Backlash: The Killing of the New Deal

Overview

On election night 1936, Franklin D. Roosevelt was sitting on top of the political world. Within a year, two seismic events would transform the political landscape. A nationwide outbreak of labor unrest, particularly the spread of a new and potent union weapon, the sit-down strike, and FDR's launching of a scheme to overhaul the Supreme Court would combine to generate a fierce public backlash that tarnished Roosevelt's mystique and drained the lifeblood from the New Deal. This is the engrossing story that Robert ...

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Overview

On election night 1936, Franklin D. Roosevelt was sitting on top of the political world. Within a year, two seismic events would transform the political landscape. A nationwide outbreak of labor unrest, particularly the spread of a new and potent union weapon, the sit-down strike, and FDR's launching of a scheme to overhaul the Supreme Court would combine to generate a fierce public backlash that tarnished Roosevelt's mystique and drained the lifeblood from the New Deal. This is the engrossing story that Robert Shogan relates so compellingly in Backlash.

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Editorial Reviews

California Bookwatch
Required reading. . . . American history and underlying political influences come to life in a vivid account.
Booklist
Long on evidence, short and sweet on analysis, this is excellent narrative history.
Stanley Kutler
Shogan offers a fresh perspective. . . . [His] book succinctly reminds us of what was, and what might have been.
Patrick Maney
Shogan's probing narrative demonstrates that the tumultuous events of the Roosevelt presidency had consequences that are still felt today.
Nick Kotz
Every aspiring politician, historian, and journalist should read this book.
Alonzo L. Hamby
Robert Shogan recaptures a pivotal moment in the history of American liberalism. . . . A fast-paced and thoughtful account.
Mark Shields
Shogan's compelling narrative is politically as timely as tomorrow's headlines.
Publishers Weekly
Former Newsweek and L.A. Times political correspondent Shogan (The Double-Edged Sword), delivers an insightful though not innovative account of how two key events put an end to New Deal advances during F.D.R.'s second term. Election day, 1936, found Roosevelt at the height of his powers and popularity, and contemplating grand strategies for advancing the domestic programs launched during his first administration. But as Shogan clearly shows, militant unionism gained ground nationwide, upsetting industrial output and slowing the rehabilitation of the Depression-plagued American economy. Second, F.D.R.'s ill-starred and widely unpopular attempt to overhaul the Supreme Court cost him precious political capital in Congress. This same misadventure also cost the president vital PR capital with the electorate, hobbling his ability to rally support for other programs. Although Roosevelt was re-elected for two more terms, his capacity for creating, inspiring and passing the type of social programs set in place during his first term remained diminished, some would argue fatally so. Shogan does a good job of painting the times and the men: Roosevelt himself, labor leader John L. Lewis, Roosevelt's aide Tommy Corcoran and his prickly and unpredictable vice-president, "Cactus Jack" Garner, all of whom played vital roles as the New Deal sputtered and stopped. (Sept. 1) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Former political journalist Shogan (The Fate of the Union) examines FDR's second term by analyzing two almost simultaneous factors that put the skids on proposed legislation aimed at expanding the New Deal programs he had pushed through Congress during his first term. These were labor union sit-down strikes and FDR's attempt to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court. Shogan argues that the increased militancy of labor unions alienated most of the electorate that had heretofore supported FDR's federal programs to help labor. He characterizes Roosevelt's unsuccessful scheme to pack the court (so that it would reverse previous decisions that had declared New Deal legislation unconstitutional) as a debacle that offended even his staunchest supporters. He is also critical of Roosevelt for trying to rationalize his error in political judgment by saying that Congress rejected the Court-packing proposal because it wasn't necessary once the Supreme Court had come to support some New Deal legislation. Yet Shogan makes clear that while labor unrest and FDR's political mistakes in 1937 and 1938 sparked the "backlash" that killed the New Deal, the middle-class ethic of "reverence for individualism and property rights" was the overarching reason why New Deal legislation effectively ended in 1936. Unfortunately, his chapter on labor leader John L. Lewis fragments the narrative unnecessarily, but Shogan's study is lively, fair-minded, well documented, and unusually accessible. For public and academic libraries. Jack Forman, Mesa Coll. Lib., San Diego Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566636742
  • Publisher: Ivan R Dee
  • Publication date: 9/25/2006
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 7.04 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Shogan has also written The Double-Edged Sword, The Fate of the Union, Hard Bargain, Riddle of Power, Bad News, Constant Conflict, and The Battle of Blair Mountain. A former prizewinning national political correspondent for Newsweek and Los Angeles Times, he now lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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