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End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War
     

End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War

by Alan Brinkley
 

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At a time when liberalism is in disarray, this vastly illuminating book locates the origins of its crisis. Those origins, says Alan Brinkley, are paradoxically situated during the second term of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose New Deal had made liberalism a fixture of American politics and society. The End of Reform shows how the liberalism of the early New

Overview

At a time when liberalism is in disarray, this vastly illuminating book locates the origins of its crisis. Those origins, says Alan Brinkley, are paradoxically situated during the second term of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose New Deal had made liberalism a fixture of American politics and society. The End of Reform shows how the liberalism of the early New Deal—which set out to repair and, if necessary, restructure America’s economy—gave way to its contemporary counterpart, which is less hostile to corporate capitalism and more solicitous of individual rights. Clearly and dramatically, Brinkley identifies the personalities and events responsible for this transformation while pointing to the broader trends in American society that made the politics of reform increasingly popular. It is both a major reinterpretation of the New Deal and a crucial map of the road to today’s political landscape.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A central tenet of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, at least through 1937, was the belief that government's mission is to counterbalance the structural flaws and inequalities of modern industrial capitalism. But in FDR's second term, argues Columbia professor of American history Brinkley (Voices of Protest), this goal was abandoned, and after 1945 liberals turned away from the early New Deal's experiments in statist planning and antimonopoly crusades. Instead, a new liberalism that has since dominated much of American political life embraced the belief that the key to a successful society is economic growth through high consumption. Brinkley identifies the hallmarks of this new liberalism as commitment to a compensatory welfare system, Keynesian fiscal policies for increasing public spending and a ``rights-based'' emphasis on personal liberties and entitlements for various groups. The author provides a revealing look at FDR's inner circle, weighing its members' rhetoric against their accomplishments and against the ideological attenuation of New Deal philosophy. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Brinkley's latest book complements his earlier Voices of Protest (LJ 4/1/82), a celebrated study of popular 1930s movements led by Huey Long and Father Coughlin. As in Voices, Brinkley is concerned with a lost tradition in American reform, but now he examines the altogether different milieu of the economists and officials who shaped federal economic policy during the latter period of the New Deal and World War II. This was a period, he argues, when liberals abandoned any real interest in restructuring U.S. political economy as liberalism gave up its quarrel with concentrated economic power and instead embraced a more constructed concept of reform based upon Keynesian ideas and attention to consumption rather than production. This is a major reinterpretation of the New Deal; a graceful, careful, and accessible study of difficult terrain in economic history and a timely historical backdrop to the position of liberalism in the 1990s. This book will receive wide attention among historians and beyond and should be an automatic purchase for all academic and most public libraries.-Robert F. Nardini, North Chichester, N.H.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679753148
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/1996
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
371
Sales rank:
546,837
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Alan Brinkley is a professor of American History at Columbia University. His previous books include Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression, which won the American Book Award for History, and The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People. His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in the American Historical Review, the Journal of American History, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, The New Republic, and other publications. He lives with his wife and daughter in New York City.

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