In Subversive Genealogy: The Politics and Art of Herman Melville,[1] Michael Paul Rogin attempts to show how Melville’s artistic efforts were a vehicle for expressing opinions on the political issues that preoccupied nineteenth-century America. In Rogin’s view, the most important issues were capitalism, imperialism, and slavery, and the appropriate response to them at the time would have been a radical one. It is from this perspective that he judges the adequacy of Melville’s politics and art. Rogin is a professor of political science at Berkeley. He has previously written on intellectuals and the phenomenon of McCarthyism and on the subjugation of the American Indian during the Jacksonian period. He now tries his hand at literary criticism as a means of writing a revisionist political history of nineteenth-century America.

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