Pocketbook Politics: Economic Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America

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Overview

"This is one of the most ambitious, original, and wisest books about power in twentieth-century America that I have read in years. With her narrative about the vital politics of the cost of living, Meg Jacobs has transformed the scholarship about modern liberals and their opponents on the Right."—Michael Kazin, author of The Populist Persuasion: An American History

"Meg Jacobs has produced an extraordinarily lucid analysis of how consumers allied with trade unions to influence prices and wages. In a provocative and mind-bending book, she demonstrates how the efforts of quite ordinary people led to political agendas that shaped the twentiet-century state."—Alice Kessler-Harris, author of In Pursuit of Equity: Gender and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America

"Written with unusual narrative power, Pocketbook Politics makes the political economy of purchasing power and mass consumption central to our understanding of modern America. In achieving a fresh analytical narrative of economic ideas, policymaking, and popular politics, this major book forces an engagement with issues and historical understandings long cast in other terms. It also sets a standard for the new political history its author has done so much to promote."—Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University

"Meg Jacobs has written a highly significant book that, by illuminating major transitions in twentieth-century politics, recasts our understanding of the relationship of politics, state building, economic policy, labor unions, and consumer culture."—Daniel Horowitz, author of The Anxieties of Affluence: Critiques of American Consumer Culture, 1939-1979

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Editorial Reviews

EH.NET
It is a tribute to this first-rate study that it opens up . . . fundamental issues in exciting new ways. Every serious student of modern U.S. political history and political economy will profit from reading Jacobs's path-breaking scholarship.
Reviews in American History - Jennifer Mittelstadt
Meg Jacobs strides boldly through the shards of the old, broken narrative and, with her eye on previously overlooked actors and events, constructs a new story of the rise and fall of the New Deal order. This extraordinary work offers a fresh narrative about American liberalism. . . . [O]ne of the most important pieces of political history this decade.
The Journal of American History - Liette Gidlow
Meg Jacobs offers a fresh and persuasive interpretation of major policy developments in the early twentieth century. Pocketbook Politic is a key addition to the growing literature in which the study of consumption promotes synthesis in historical scholarship.
Business History Review - Gary Cross
This unapologetic political history [is] refreshingly direct, revealing, and persuasive. It should become a standard text for students of the period.
" EH.NET ert Collins

It is a tribute to this first-rate study that it opens up . . . fundamental issues in exciting new ways. Every serious student of modern U.S. political history and political economy will profit from reading Jacobs's path-breaking scholarship.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2006 Ellis W. Hawley Prize, Organization of American Historians

Winner of the 2006 New England Historical Association Book Prize, New England Historical Association

"Meg Jacobs strides boldly through the shards of the old, broken narrative and, with her eye on previously overlooked actors and events, constructs a new story of the rise and fall of the New Deal order. This extraordinary work offers a fresh narrative about American liberalism. . . . [O]ne of the most important pieces of political history this decade."—Jennifer Mittelstadt, Reviews in American History

"Meg Jacobs offers a fresh and persuasive interpretation of major policy developments in the early twentieth century. Pocketbook Politic is a key addition to the growing literature in which the study of consumption promotes synthesis in historical scholarship."—Liette Gidlow, The Journal of American History

"It is a tribute to this first-rate study that it opens up . . . fundamental issues in exciting new ways. Every serious student of modern U.S. political history and political economy will profit from reading Jacobs's path-breaking scholarship."—Robert Collins, EH.NET

"This unapologetic political history [is] refreshingly direct, revealing, and persuasive. It should become a standard text for students of the period."—Gary Cross, Business History Review

Reviews in American History
Meg Jacobs strides boldly through the shards of the old, broken narrative and, with her eye on previously overlooked actors and events, constructs a new story of the rise and fall of the New Deal order. This extraordinary work offers a fresh narrative about American liberalism. . . . [O]ne of the most important pieces of political history this decade.
— Jennifer Mittelstadt
Business History Review
This unapologetic political history [is] refreshingly direct, revealing, and persuasive. It should become a standard text for students of the period.
— Gary Cross
The Journal of American History
Meg Jacobs offers a fresh and persuasive interpretation of major policy developments in the early twentieth century. Pocketbook Politic is a key addition to the growing literature in which the study of consumption promotes synthesis in historical scholarship.
— Liette Gidlow
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Meg Jacobs is Associate Professor of American History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, She is the co-editor of "The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History" (Princeton).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xi
Introduction
Economic Citizenship in the Twentieth Century 1

PART I. THE HIGH COST OF LIVING AND THE RISE OF POCKETBOOK POLITICS, 1900-1930

Chapter One: From the Bargain Basement to the Bargaining Table, 1900-1917 15
Chapter Two: Business without a Buyer, 1917-1930 53

PART II. PURCHASING POWER TO THE PEOPLE, 1930-1940

Chapter Three: The New Deal and the Problem of Prices, 1930-1935 95
Chapter Four: The New Deal and the Problem of Wages, 1935-1940 136

PART III. THE EVILS OF INFLATION IN WAR AND PEACE, 1940-1960

Chapter Five: The Consumer Goes to War, 1940-1946 179
Chapter Six: Pocketbook Politics in an Age of Inflation, 1946-1960 221
Epilogue: Back to Bargain Hunting 262
Notes 266
Index 327

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