The Revolutionary Ascetic: Evolution of a Political Type, by Bruce Mazlish. New York: Basic Books. 261 pp.
Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America, by Herbert G. Gutman. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 343 pp.
Recoiling from the lack of analytical focus in traditional narrative history, many historians have attempted in the last few decades to develop new angles of vision on previously neglected aspects of the past. Among these new approaches, psychohistory and the new social history assume pride of place; and Mazlish’s and Gutman’s works, respectively, are apt illustrations. Yet only Gutman seems to me to have succeeded in convincing the reader.
Mazlish’s thesis is highly suggestive. Through Freudian concepts, and with major assists from the work of Max Weber, he attempts to show that most modern revolutionaries, though not necessarily all of them, had an ascetic character structure, that they were austere “pur...
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $35 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.