Herbert Agar

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Herbert Sebastian Agar (29 September 1897 in New Rochelle, New York - 24 November 1980 in Sussex, England) was an American journalist and historian, and an editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal. He won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1934 for his 1933 book The People's Choice, a critical look at the American presidency. Agar was associated with the Southern Agrarians and edited, with Allen Tate, Who Owns America? (1936).[1] He was also a strong proponent of an Americanized version of the British distributist socioeconomic system.[2]

Agar's 1950 book The Price of Union was one of John F. Kennedy's favorite books,[3] and he kept a copy of it on his desk.[4] A passage from The Price of Union about an act of courage by John Quincy Adams gave Kennedy the idea of writing an article about senatorial courage. He showed the passage to his speechwriter Ted Sorensen and asked him to see if he could find some more examples. This Sorensen did, and eventually they had enough for a book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Profiles in Courage (1956).[5]


  • “The truth which makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.”
  • “Civilization rests on a set of promises; if the promises are broken too often, the civilization dies, no matter how rich it may be, or how mechanically clever. Hope and faith depend on the promises; if hope and faith go, everything goes.”
  • “This is the affirmation on which democracy rests … [W]e can all be responsible … We become what we do. So does the world we live in, if enough of us do it - whether “it” be good or detestable. This is the burden of freedom: that it is all our fault or our credit, (“The Perils of Democracy”; Dufour Editions; 1966, at p11)”


  • Milton and Plato (1928)
  • The People's Choice: From Washington to Harding — A Study in Democracy (1933) ISBN 978-0-9665734-0-4[6]
  • Land of the Free (1935)[7]
  • Who Owns America? A New Declaration of Independence (contributor and co-editor with Allen Tate) (1936) ISBN 978-1-882926-37-4[8]
  • The Pursuit of Happiness: The Story of American Democracy (1938)[9]
  • A Time for Greatness (1942)[10]
  • The Price of Union: The Influence of the American Temper on the Course of History (1950)[11]
  • Abraham Lincoln (1952)[12]
  • The Unquiet Years: U.S.A. 1945-1955 (1957)[13]
  • The Price of Power: America Since 1945 (1957) ISBN 978-0-226-00937-7[14]
  • The Saving Remnant: An Account of Jewish Survival Since 1914 (1960)[15]
  • The Perils of Democracy (1965)[16]
  • The Darkest Year: Britain Alone, June 1940 - June 1941 (1972)[17]