Jedediah Purdy is a native of Calhoun County, West Virginia, where he was home schooled until attending high shool at Phillips Exter Academy, a prestigious boarding school near Boston. Now a professor of law at Duke University, Purdy has published four books - his first when he was only 25. He writes about how law interacts with and embodies ideas about freedom, social order, and the human relationship with the natural world, and how these ideas arise and change. His 2009 book, A Tolerable Anarchy: Rebels, Reactionaries, and the Making of American Freedom, "is a book of history that speaks plainly to our lives today, urging us to explore our understanding of our country and ourselves, and to make real our own ideals of freedom." According to the publisher:
Jedediah Purdy works from the stories of individuals: Frederick Douglass urging Americans to extend freedom to slaves; Ralph Waldo Emerson arguing for self-fulfillment as an essential part of liberty; reformers and presidents struggling to redefine citizenship in a fast-changing world. He asks crucial questions: Does capitalism perfect or destroy freedom? Does freedom mean following tradition, God’s word, or one’s own heart? Can a nation of individualists also be a community of citizens?
In the video below, Purdy reads excerpts from A Tolerable Anarchy, a book praised by critics, politicians and educators. Purdy is another lesser-known bright mind from The Mountain State who is likely to do great things in the future. I look forward to reading his work.