Building a Democratic Political Order: Reshaping American Liberalism in the 1930s and 1940s

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Building A Democratic Political Order explores the dramatic changes in American politics that occurred during the 1930s and 1940s—including the growth of the federal government, the emergence of a new labor movement, the Cold War and domestic anti-Communism, and the opening of national political debate about civil rights. Democratic progressive liberalism recast American political institutions and discourses in ways that went well beyond what was expected in the early 1930s, and in forms strong enough to endure for several decades after Roosevelt's death.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Building a Democratic Political Order sparkles with ideas and insights....This is indeed an unusually rich and rewarding book...clearly written and cogently argued...a major interpretation of modern American liberalism. Bold in conception, rigorous in argument, and thoughtful in exposition, it offers a persuasive recasting of the familiar story of the New Deal era and its aftermath." Reviews in American History

"Plotke's treatment of this crucial period in American politics is impressive....his well documented and thoughtful work has placed in the shade those who claim that the New Deal was fashioned mainly by economic elites or social protest....Building a Democratic Political Order is essential reading for serious students of American politics." Edwin Amenta, Political Science Quarterly

"Building a Democratic Political Order stands as an impressive achievement..." Andrew J. Polsky, Polity

"Plotke's treatment of this crucial period in American poltics is impressive, Building a Democratic Political Order breaks great conceptual ground, and anyone working in this area in the future will have to confront his interpretation of New Deal politics. His argumentation is always, Plotke is never polemical, as the New Deal has been the site of some ugly academic conflicts. All the same, his well documented and thoughtful work has placed in the shade those who claim that the New Deal was fashioned mainly by economic elites or social protest." Edwin Amenta, Political Science Quarterly

"Plotke has deepened our understanding of the multifaceted elements of the 'Democratic state' that had emerged by 1936. The work's great strength lies in its effective, careful application of differeing theoretical approaches as they apply to regime establishment and maintenance. It is a work of insight and integrative power in a field increasingly characterized by compartmentalized approaches and interpretations." Clyde P. Weed, American Political Science Review

"Based on considerable archival research as well as on an impressive command of the relevant secondary literature, Building a Democratic Political Order is a major effort to reconceptualize American political history and to explain the information and character of the Democratic order forged in the 1930's....Reader's will be rewarded by its many strengths. Political historians must read Plotke's book; others will find it valuable." John W. Jeffries, The Journal of American History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521420594
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2011
  • Pages: 399
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; Introduction: the Democratic order as a political project; 1. When does politics change?; 2. Creating political orders: the logic of the Democratic experience; 3. Democratic opportunities in the crises of the 1930s; 4. Passing the Wagner Act and building a new Democratic state; 5. Party and movements in the Democratic upsurge, 1935–7; 6. Progressive liberalism as pragmatic common sense; 7. Surprising years: electing Truman and sustaining the Democratic order, 1947–9; 8. Passing Taft-Hartley: what the losers won (and what the winners lost); 9. New political fronts? Growth and civil rights in the late 1940s; 10. Democratic anti-Communism and the Cold War; 11. From Truman to Kennedy: the reach and limits of Democratic power; 12. Was the Democratic order democratic?; Index.

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