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The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Greatby Harvey J. Kaye
Synopses & Reviews
An inspiring call to redeem the progressive legacy of the greatest generation, now under threat as never before.
For decades conservative and corporate interests have worked to obscure the greatest achievement of the Greatest Generation: securing Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms for all Americans. Freedom from want and fear; Freedom of speech and religion. These were the democratic aims that helped beat the Great Depression, defeat the Axis Powers in World War II, and turn the United States into the strongest and richest nation in history—and they remain the most significant legacy of America’s most progressive generation. This generation of Americans, often in the face of fierce conservative opposition, advanced freedom, equality, and democracy for all. Since the 1970s, the political right has fought to contain or reverse middle class prosperity and democratic rights for workers, women, and minorities.
In this eye-opening account, scholar and advocate Harvey Kaye recalls the full story of this generation’s extraordinary struggles and accomplishments. By making America, in FDR’s words, “fairly radical for a generation,” the Greatest Generation had their true rendezvous with destiny. And Kaye convinces that to honor them, it is time for another generation of Americans to do the same, before it is too late.
"In his latest history of American democracy, Kaye (Thomas Paine and the Promise of America) traces the repercussions that followed in the wake of one of our country's most influential presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He effectively details how F.D.R. and his Four Freedoms rhetoric — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear — fostered a more open and equal American populace. These freedoms, explicitly or not, shaped the 12 years in which F.D.R. and his generation combated an economic depression, a world war, and a plethora of civil injustices. Kaye is attuned to the power of F.D.R.'s speeches, using powerful and eloquent quotes to further his stance that F.D.R. and the generation of Americans who fought in WWII mobilized to spread these ideals worldwide. Kaye's story goes further, illustrating how subsequent presidencies misunderstood, manipulated, or failed to uphold F.D.R.'s four freedoms. Though Kaye hopes to inspire readers to again believe in the American democratic system, the implication that this greatest generation failed in their attempts to achieve a fully democratic way of life leaves one pessimistic about such possibilities. Regardless, the book offers insight into the path that led to the politics and democracy of modern-day America." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
On January 6, 1941, the Greatest Generation gave voice to its founding principles, the Four Freedoms: Freedom from want and from fear. Freedom of speech and religion. In the name of the Four Freedoms they fought the Great Depression. In the name of the Four Freedoms they defeated the Axis powers.
In the process they made the United States the richest and most powerful country on Earth. And, despite a powerful, reactionary opposition, the men and women of the Greatest Generation made America freer, more equal, and more democratic than ever before.
Now, when all they fought for is under siege, we need to remember their full achievement, and, so armed, take up again the fight for the Four Freedoms.
About the Author
Harvey J. Kaye is the Ben & Joyce Rosenberg Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the author of numerous books, including Thomas Paine and the Promise of America and Are We Good Citizens?
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History and Social Science » American Studies » General