A Godly Hero : The Life of William Jennings Bryan by Michael Kazin, a review from The New Republic Online by Jackson Lears.
"Kazin, unlike his predecessors, shrewdly recognizes that Bryan's persistent failure embodied a larger triumph. Throughout his career, Bryan championed the vision of social democracy that finally (if imperfectly) became embodied in the New Deal. Far more clearly than his successful contemporaries Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Bryan understood the need for curbing concentrated corporate and government power in the name of genuine democracy. He recognized the fundamental conflict between republican tradition and imperial ambition. He was prescient on nearly every policy matter of his time, from the progressive income tax and banking regulation to union rights and federally funded social insurance. Even his critique of evolutionary thought, however embarrassing to right-thinking secularists today, focused on the dubious and repellent social applications of Darwinian theory — eugenics and similar schemes for eliminating the ethnically 'unfit.' " Read the entire New Republic review.