The first book of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy, ECLIPSED BY SHADOW, won the 2009 Eric Hoffer Book Award for best Young Adult Fiction.
The Eric Hoffer Book Award was founded with permission from the Eric Hoffer Estate, “to honor freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit.” Personally, my excitement and respect for the award’s purpose increased even more as I learned more about Hoffer’s work.
Eric Hoffer (1898–1983) was a quintessential American, a working-class philosopher, whose clear voice was grounded in the practical experience of the common worker. His most famous book is The True Believer (1951) which helped advance the study of mass-movements and fanaticism. Hoffer continued to write on a wide range of subjects:
“Vaguely at first then more distinctly I realized that man is an eternal stranger on this planet. He became a stranger when he cut himself off from the rest of Creation and became human. From this incurable strangeness stems our incurable insecurity, our unfulfillable craving for roots, our passion to cover the planet with man-made compounds, our need for the city—a citadel against the encroachment of nature.”“—Eric Hoffer, Between the Devil and the Dragon
I am especially thrilled to receive this award. It still offers inspiration because the controversies of Eric Hoffer’s day are ongoing … ‘true believers’ everywhere still remain a threat. We have, in fact, come to a place of being at war with that very phenomenon. Hoffer’s original ideas have been expanded and built upon, and to be recognized by those in the path of such motivating ideas is a great honor.
“It is the individual only who is timeless. Societies, cultures, and civilizations — past and present — are often incomprehensible to outsiders, but the individual’s hungers, anxieties, dreams, and preoccupations have remained unchanged through the millennia.”
Eric Hoffer’s writings are a reminder of America’s post-war promise … his stance is decidedly pro-civilization, and he was himself a champion of the city; this often makes his work rather startling to read against current culture.
Though it may seem his work is sometimes overlooked in current cultural narratives, America’s working-class philosopher has been a seminal influence on modern understanding. His ideas remain an inspirational source of American thought.
Hoffer’s writing is grounded in the tradition of an America proud of its working class, building and progressing to a better world for all: his strong views and observations in celebration of civilization and the common man are still bracing ideas in the world. Which is quite hopeful, really.