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A compelling history of the national conflicts that resulted from efforts to produce the first definitive American dictionary of English In The Dictionary Wars, Peter Martin recounts the patriotic fervor in the early American republic to produce a definitive national dictionary that would rival Samuel Johnson's 1755 Dictionary of the English Language. But what began as a cultural war of independence from Britain devolved into a battle among lexicographers, authors, scholars, and publishers, all vying for dictionary supremacy and shattering forever the dream of a unified American language. The overwhelming questions in the dictionary wars involved which and whose English was truly American and whether a dictionary of English should attempt to be American at all, independent from Britain. Martin tells the human story of the intense rivalry between America's first lexicographers, Noah Webster and Joseph Emerson Worcester, who fought over who could best represent the soul and identity of American culture. Webster believed an American dictionary, like the American language, ought to be informed by the nation's republican principles, but Worcester thought that such language reforms were reckless and went too far. Their conflict continued beyond Webster's death, when the ambitious Merriam brothers acquired publishing rights to Webster's American Dictionary and launched their own language wars. From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the end of the Civil War, the dictionary wars also engaged America's colleges, libraries, newspapers, religious groups, and state legislatures at a pivotal historical moment that coincided with rising literacy and the print revolution. Delving into the personal stories and national debates that arose from the conflicts surrounding America's first dictionaries, The Dictionary Wars examines the linguistic struggles that underpinned the founding and growth of a nation.
At a time when the label "conservative" is indiscriminately applied to fundamentalists, populists, libertarians, fascists, and the advocates of one or another orthodoxy, this volume offers a nuanced and historically informed presentation of what is distinctive about conservative social and political thought. It is an anthology with an argument, locating the origins of modern conservatism within the Enlightenment and distinguishing between conservatism and orthodoxy. Bringing together important specimens of European and American conservative social and political analysis from the mid-eighteenth century through our own day, Conservatism demonstrates that while the particular institutions that conservatives have sought to conserve have varied, there are characteristic features of conservative argument that recur over time and across national borders. The book proceeds chronologically through the following sections: Enlightenment Conservatism (David Hume, Edmund Burke, and Justus Möser), The Critique of Revolution (Burke, Louis de Bonald, Joseph de Maistre, James Madison, and Rufus Choate), Authority (Matthew Arnold, James Fitzjames Stephen), Inequality (W. H. Mallock, Joseph A. Schumpeter), The Critique of Good Intentions (William Graham Sumner), War (T. E. Hulme), Democracy (Carl Schmitt, Schumpeter), The Limits of Rationalism (Winston Churchill, Michael Oakeshott, Friedrich Hayek, Edward Banfield), The Critique of Social and Cultural Emancipation (Irving Kristol, Peter Berger and Richard John Neuhaus, Hermann Lübbe), and Between Social Science and Cultural Criticism (Arnold Gehlen, Philip Rieff). The book contains an afterword on recurrent tensions and dilemmas of conservative thought.