Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Timeby Ira Katznelson
“A powerful argument, swept along by Katznelson’s robust prose and the imposing scholarship that lies behind it.”—Kevin Boyle, New York Times Book ReviewA work that “deeply reconceptualizes the New Deal and raises countless provocative questions” (David Kennedy), Fear Itself changes the ground rules for our/em>/p>/em>
“A powerful argument, swept along by Katznelson’s robust prose and the imposing scholarship that lies behind it.”—Kevin Boyle, New York Times Book ReviewA work that “deeply reconceptualizes the New Deal and raises countless provocative questions” (David Kennedy), Fear Itself changes the ground rules for our understanding of this pivotal era in American history. Ira Katznelson examines the New Deal through the lens of a pervasive, almost existential fear that gripped a world defined by the collapse of capitalism and the rise of competing dictatorships, as well as a fear created by the ruinous racial divisions in American society. Katznelson argues that American democracy was both saved and distorted by a Faustian collaboration that guarded racial segregation as it built a new national state to manage capitalism and assert global power. Fear Itself charts the creation of the modern American state and “how a belief in the common good gave way to a central government dominated by interest-group politics and obsessed with national security” (Louis Menand, The New Yorker).
Verdict A significant contribution to New Deal historiography and, more important, a useful guide to a better understanding of our present-day societal and political discordance. Highly recommended.—John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland
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Meet the Author
Ira Katznelson is Columbia University's Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History. Having served as president of the American Political Science Association, he is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is also the author of Fear Itself and When Affirmative Action Was White.
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Fantastic historical perspective on the evolution of the New Deal, particularly the role of southern legislators. Makes you better realize the poignancy of LBJ's statement that the south would reject the democratic party for a generation or more after the passage of the civil rights bill. The south was not alone in discriminatory pratices, but the ingrained nature in the belief of racial superiority of southerners is brought out in this scholarly tome. One can easily see echoes of the old south in today's unified southern voting bloc stressing state's rights, promoting voter ID hurtles, anti-unionism, etc. See Paula Dean and Trent Lott's recent comments in recent years. Great historical read. Some of the language is 'high falutin', but the degree of scholarship displayed is impressively thorough and enlightening.