The Strange Death of American Liberalism Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 19 ratings
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ISBN-13: 978-0300090215
ISBN-10: 0300090218
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Defining liberalism somewhat simplistically as "a prevailing confidence in the ability of government preeminently the federal government to accomplish substantial good on behalf of the American people," Brands argues that Americans have always been oppositely inclined and that only wartime exigencies in both WWII and the Cold War allowed for a period when the liberal expansion of government could triumph. (His similarly truncated view of conservatism renders "family values" and Joseph McCarthy as "pseudo-conservative.") A skilled biographer (T.R.: The Last Romantic; etc.) and professor of history and liberal arts at Texas A&M University, Brands makes this argument primarily through a string of engaging presidential narratives, but he sets them against a background of public opinion (though offering only broad generalizations, for instance, based on sporadic reference to specific polls) on the role of government. He's deft at presenting complexities in concise form, as in his exquisite contrast of JFK and LBJ, but offers some questionable judgments as well (such as that Nixon was a liberal). Though it's not a Great-Man view of history, this approach suffers from a profound neglect of broader historical considerations, such as the role of race in American politics, party dealignment after 1968, a renewed elite hostility to the welfare state after the 1973-1974 recession and a host of other factors necessary to clarify the rise and fall of American liberalism. By concentrating on Americans' general loss of trust in government and ignoring continued strong support for specific programs (substantiated by numerous studies), Brands perpetuates the illusion that no such complexities need be considered.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

From Booklist

Texas A & M historian Brands ponders "the unsolved mystery of American politics . . . : Who killed liberalism?" Brands' conviction that the U.S. has been "a nation of skeptics" about the federal government throughout its history is central to his answer. Brands' first two chapters trace that skepticism, attributing all exceptions--periods of expanding federal power--to the nation's wars. But after World War II, Brands argues, the cold war demanded that Americans continue to empower the federal government, and concern about national security justified a wide spectrum of "liberal" programs, from highway construction and education funding to civil rights legislation and the War on Poverty. When this cold war consensus supporting federal action collapsed in the face of Vietnam, Watergate, and political lies, Americans' traditional skepticism about government reasserted control of the political arena. Other historians--Garry Wills in A Necessary Evil (1999) comes to mind--may question Brands' fundamental premise, suggesting skepticism has been just one of many American attitudes toward government, but they will appreciate his crisp, accessible argument. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0016O9RQW
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Yale University Press (November 1, 2001)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ November 1, 2001
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1530 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 192 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.7 out of 5 stars 19 ratings

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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was looking for.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 23, 2014
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