C. Wright Mills (1916--1962) was a pathbreaking intellectual who
transformed the independent American Left in the 1940s and 1950s.
Often challenging the established ideologies and approaches of
fellow leftist thinkers, Mills was central to creating and
developing the idea of the "public intellectual" in postwar America
and laid the political foundations for the rise of the New Left in
the 1960s. Written by Stanley Aronowitz, a leading sociologist and
critic of American culture and politics, Taking It Big reconstructs
this icon's formation and the new dimension of American political
life that followed his work.
Aronowitz revisits Mills's education and its role in shaping his
outlook and intellectual restlessness. Mills defined himself as a
maverick, and Aronowitz tests this claim (which has been challenged
in recent years) against the work and thought of his
contemporaries. Aronowitz describes Mills's growing circle of
contacts among the New York Intellectuals and his efforts to
reenergize the Left by encouraging a fundamentally new theoretical
orientation centered on more ambitious critiques of U.S. society.
Blurring the rigid boundaries among philosophy, history, and social
theory and between traditional orthodoxies and the radical
imagination, Mills became one of the most admired and controversial
thinkers of his time and was instrumental in inspiring the student
and antiwar movements of the 1960s. In this book, Aronowitz not
only reclaims this critical thinker's reputation but also
emphasizes his ongoing significance to debates on power in American
Subjects: History, Political Science, Sociology
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