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When America Was Great: the Fighting Faith of Postwar Liberalism

by

When America Was Great: the Fighting Faith of Postwar Liberalism Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the midst of Eisenhower's America, at the peak of the Cold War, a movement of public intellectuals defined a pragmatic liberal vision for America that is more relevant today than ever before. <BR>A sweeping intellectual history that will make us rethink postwar politics and culture, "When America Was Great "profiles the thinkers and writers who crafted a new American liberal tradition in a conservative era — from historians Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and C. Vann Woodward, to economist John Kenneth Galbraith and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. <BR>A compelling tale that will redefine the word "liberal" for a new generation, Mattson retraces the intellectual journey of these towering figures. They served in the Second World War. They opposed communism but also wanted to make America's poor visible to the affluent society. Contrary to those who characterize liberals as naive or sentimental "bleeding hearts," they had a tough-minded and nuanced vision that stressed both human limitations and hope. They felt America should stand for something more than just a strong economy. <BR>"When America Was" "Great" envisions a bright liberal future for America grounded in the best of our past. A past that is in danger of being forgotten, but one that we would do well to remember and learn from.

Review:

"According to Mattson, Ronald Reagan's 1988 Republican Convention address crowned a long campaign to turn the word 'liberal' into a dreaded insult. In this volume, the prolific scholar of the Left defends what he views as an embattled faith under attack from both sides, with the hope that 'a better understanding of liberalism can improve current political discussion.' Mattson demonstrates the dynamism of the tradition by examining the views and trajectories of leading Cold War liberal thinkers, 'eggheads' like economist John Kenneth Galbraith, historian Arthur Schlesinger, journalist James Wechsler and Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Wedged between the Henry Wallace-led progressives on the Left and Senator Joe McCarthy on the Right, these men negotiated intellectual and practical challenges like communism, conservation, civil rights, Vietnam and the balancing of principles with power. They defined the 'Fighting Faith,' Mattson writes, during a time of great upheaval through their passionate commitment to the ideals of America and their willingness to criticize it. Mattson's thoroughly researched accounts and clear prose provide a strong sense of his protagonists, though at times extensive reporting overshadows limited analysis. He betrays his own liberal pride, but highlights his characters' weaknesses, including muddled beliefs like 'countervailing power' of labor against business interests and 'cycles of history' between conservative and liberal orientations of the polity. Mattson also cedes ground to liberalism's critics, admitting that his egghead elite 'traveled in a world of white men' and that because 'liberalism embraces complexity and nuance over simple sloganeering, it is a foreign language to the shouting world of pundits.' Yet, by failing to extrapolate his implications to the present day, Mattson falls short of his primary goal." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780415947756
Author:
Mattson, Kevin
Publisher:
Routledge
Location:
New York
Subject:
History
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Liberalism
Subject:
History & Theory - General
Subject:
Government - U.S. Government
Subject:
Political Ideologies - Conservatism & Liberalism
Subject:
Liberalism -- United States -- History.
Subject:
Politics-United States Politics
Subject:
Politics - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Series Volume:
PDP/02/12
Publication Date:
20040931
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.28x6.42x.85 in. 1.19 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » American Studies » 50s, 60s, and 70s
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General

When America Was Great: the Fighting Faith of Postwar Liberalism Used Hardcover
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$12.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Routledge - English 9780415947756 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "According to Mattson, Ronald Reagan's 1988 Republican Convention address crowned a long campaign to turn the word 'liberal' into a dreaded insult. In this volume, the prolific scholar of the Left defends what he views as an embattled faith under attack from both sides, with the hope that 'a better understanding of liberalism can improve current political discussion.' Mattson demonstrates the dynamism of the tradition by examining the views and trajectories of leading Cold War liberal thinkers, 'eggheads' like economist John Kenneth Galbraith, historian Arthur Schlesinger, journalist James Wechsler and Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Wedged between the Henry Wallace-led progressives on the Left and Senator Joe McCarthy on the Right, these men negotiated intellectual and practical challenges like communism, conservation, civil rights, Vietnam and the balancing of principles with power. They defined the 'Fighting Faith,' Mattson writes, during a time of great upheaval through their passionate commitment to the ideals of America and their willingness to criticize it. Mattson's thoroughly researched accounts and clear prose provide a strong sense of his protagonists, though at times extensive reporting overshadows limited analysis. He betrays his own liberal pride, but highlights his characters' weaknesses, including muddled beliefs like 'countervailing power' of labor against business interests and 'cycles of history' between conservative and liberal orientations of the polity. Mattson also cedes ground to liberalism's critics, admitting that his egghead elite 'traveled in a world of white men' and that because 'liberalism embraces complexity and nuance over simple sloganeering, it is a foreign language to the shouting world of pundits.' Yet, by failing to extrapolate his implications to the present day, Mattson falls short of his primary goal." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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