Gertrude Himmelfarb, like so many Americans, is appalled by crime, drug addiction, illiteracy, juvenile delinquency, illegitimacy and welfare dependency. The solution she proposes, in this follow-up to her much-praised On Looking into the Abyss, is as simple as it is radical - and has the further advantage of solid historical substantiation. We must look back on the Victorians with open minds; they must cease to irk us. And then, Himmelfarb hopes, we can begin to learn from them.
Gertrude Himmelfarb taught for 23 years at Brooklyn College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York, where she was named distinguished professor of history in 1978. Now professor emeritus, she lives with her husband, Irving Kristol, in Washington, DC. Her books include The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values; On Looking into the Abyss: Untimely Thoughts on Culture and Society; Poverty and Compassion: The Moral Imagination of the Late Victorians; The New History and the Old; Marriage and Morals Among the Victorians; The Idea of Poverty: England in the Early Industrial Age; On Liberty and Liberalism: The Case of John Stuart Mill; Victorian Minds (nominated for a National Book Award); Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution; and Lord Acton: A Study in Conscience and Politics.