C. Wright Mills: Letters and Autobiographical Writings

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University of California Press, May 31, 2000 - Literary Collections - 300 pages
One of the leading public intellectuals of twentieth-century America and a pioneering and brilliant social scientist, C. Wright Mills left a legacy of interdisciplinary and hard-hitting work including two books that changed the way many people viewed their lives and the structure of power in the United States: White Collar (1951) and The Power Elite (1956). Mills persistently challenged the status quo within his profession--as in The Sociological Imagination (1959)--and within his country, until his untimely death in 1962. This collection of letters and writings, edited by his daughters, allows readers to see behind Mills's public persona for the first time.

Mills's letters to prominent figures--including Saul Alinsky, Daniel Bell, Lewis Coser, Carlos Fuentes, Hans Gerth, Irving Howe, Dwight MacDonald, Robert K. Merton, Ralph Miliband, William Miller, David Riesman, and Harvey Swados--are joined by his letters to family members, letter-essays to an imaginary friend in Russia, personal narratives by his daughters, and annotations drawing on published and unpublished material, including the FBI file on Mills.

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Letters and autobiographical writings

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This book marks an important contribution to our understanding of the provocative work of eminent sociologist Mills, author of White Collar, The Power Elite, and The Sociological Imagination. Mills ... Read full review

Selected pages


GRADUATE STUDIES Madison Wisconsin 19391941
STARTING OUT College Park Maryland 19411945
TAKING IT BIG New York New York 19451956
Braxton Bragg Wright a cattle rancher whose family had been in America for several generations and his wife Elizabeth Gallagher Wright Biggy the ...
From New York to Europe and Mexico 19561960
THE LAST TWO YEARS New York and Cuba 19601962

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Page vii - ... individual life. Know that the problems of social science, when adequately formulated, must include both troubles and issues, both biography and history, and the range of their intricate relations. Within that range the life of the individual and the making of societies occur; and within that range, the sociological imagination has its chance to make a difference in the quality of human life in our time.
Page 5 - So, Fidel Castro, I announce to the City of New York that you gave all of us who are alone in this country, and usually not speaking to one another, some sense that there were heroes left in the world.
Page 18 - As a social scientist, you have to control this rather elaborate interplay, to capture what you experience and sort it out; only in this way can you hope to use it to guide and test your reflection, and in the process shape yourself as an intellectual craftsman. But how can you do this? One answer is: you must set up a file, which is, I suppose, a sociologist's way of saying: keep a journal.
Page 18 - I think, by reminding you, the beginning student, that the most admirable thinkers within the scholarly community you have chosen to join do not split their work from their lives. They seem to take both too seriously to allow such dissociation, and they want to use each for the enrichment of the other.
Page 2 - Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.
Page 18 - Before you are through with any piece of work, no matter how indirectly on occasion, orient it to the central and continuing task of understanding the structure and the drift, the shaping and the meanings, of your own period, the terrible and magnificent world of human society in the second half of the twentieth century.

About the author (2000)

C. Wright Mills was a maverick social scientist who taught in Copenhagen, London, and Mexico City in addition to the United States. His work has been translated into twenty-three languages. Kathryn Mills works for a book publisher in Boston. Pamela Mills teaches American literature and composition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Dan Wakefield is the author of New York in the Fifties (1992), which is the basis for a documentary film, Island in the City: The World of Spanish Harlem (1959), and many other works, including the best-selling novels Going All the Way (1970) and Selling Out (1985).

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