Bell makes a convincing case that will influence historians' interpretations of the political implications of the early Cold War... Recommended. All Academic levels.
The Liberal State on Trial: The Cold War and American Politics in the Truman Yearsby Jonathan Bell
What was left, in both senses of the word, of liberalism after the death of Franklin Roosevelt? This question has aroused considerable historical debate because it raises the question of why the United States, during the Truman years, developed a much less state-centered orthodoxy than other comparable, powerful liberal states. What were the consequences of this… See more details below
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What was left, in both senses of the word, of liberalism after the death of Franklin Roosevelt? This question has aroused considerable historical debate because it raises the question of why the United States, during the Truman years, developed a much less state-centered orthodoxy than other comparable, powerful liberal states. What were the consequences of this fundamental choice that would shape the character and direction of American society during the second half of the twentieth century? This book explores the role of the Cold War in shifting the center of gravity in American politics sharply to the right in the years immediately following World War II. Jonathan Bell demonstrates that there was far more active and vibrant debate about the potential for liberal ideas before they become submerged in Cold War anti-state rhetoric than has generally been recognized.
Using case studies from Senate and House races from 1946 to 1952, Bell shows how the anti-statist imagery that defined the Cold War in political debate became the key weapon among right-wing and business interest groups and their political representatives with which to discredit political figures who wanted to expand political liberalism beyond existing New Deal measures. He depicts how this process implicitly endorsed socioeconomic inequality.
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Jonathan Bell has written a breakthrough book. Bell has done tremendous archival work to unravel the political meaning of state and local races across at least four election cycles: 1946, 1948, 1950, and 1952. Bell's enormous research and insightful feel for the politics of the first postwar decade give him the authority to recast for our time the essential insight that foreign policy-and in particular the liberal anti-communist internationalism that eventually came to dominate both parties-was a weapon used not only against external enemies but against that generation of social reformers who had sought to use the power of the modern state to organize the working class, ameliorate inequality, eliminate Jim Crow, and build a European-style welfare state. These were the stakes in 1948 and 1950, and they remain the stakes today, which is why Bell's book will have a wide audience and an enthusiastic reception. I cannot think of any book in the last decade that does more to explain the domestic side of the Cold War.
Jonathan Bell's, The Liberal State on Trial, argues that responses to the Cold War greatly advanced "anti-statism" in the United States during the Truman years, thereby reorienting and damaging the goals of American liberalism. His boldly presented, deeply researched book will appeal to scholars and others interested in the course of American politics during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
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