Running Steel, Running America: Race, Economic Policy, and the Decline of Liberalism / Edition 1

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The history of modern liberalism has been hotly debated in
contemporary politics and the academy. Here, Judith Stein uses
the steel industry--long considered fundamental to the U.S.
economy--to examine liberal policies and priorities after World
War II. In a provocative revision of postwar American history,
she argues that it was the primacy of foreign commitments and the
outdated economic policies of the state, more than the nation's
racial conflicts, that transformed American liberalism from the
powerful progressivism of the New Deal to the feeble policies of
the 1990s.
Stein skillfully integrates a number of narratives usually
treated in isolation--labor, civil rights, politics, business,
and foreign policy--while underscoring the state's focus on the
steel industry and its workers. By showing how those who
intervened in the industry treated such economic issues as free
trade and the globalization of steel production in isolation from
the social issues of the day--most notably civil rights and the
implementation of affirmative action--Stein advances a larger
argument about postwar liberalism. Liberal attempts to address
social inequalities without reference to the fundamental and
changing workings of the economy, she says, have led to the
foundering of the New Deal state.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Few serious historians of the postwar United States can afford not to read [this book].

Law and History Review

An original, well-argued, and thought-provoking account of the American steel industry in the post-World War II world.

Labor History

This is a marvelous and important book, an immaculately researched, powerfully written analysis.

Business History

[A] passionate book.

Reviews in American History

[A] triumph of heroic research and clear thinking, and essential reading for anyone who cares about this country's festering race problems.

David Brody, author of In Labor's Cause: Main Themes on the History of the American Worker

Library Journal
According to Stein, the American steel companies and their workers were at the center of the New Deal compact between capital and labor, as well as of the racial changes of the '50s and '60s and of the economic crises of the '70s and 1980. Furthermore, government policies during the Cold War encouraged the construction of steel mills in friendly countries, even at the expense of the domestic industry. Consequently, it was global markets that largely laid down the terms of settlement of the problems of U.S. mills. Years of labor-management conflict followed. This is a detailed study with a highly ambitious premise -- to show, among other things, the long-term impact of the steel industry on postwar American liberalism -- but the book is marred by turgid writing and loose organization. -- Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter College, New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807847275
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 10/5/1998
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 0.96 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Stein, professor of history at the Graduate School and City College of the City University of New York, is author of The World of Marcus Garvey: Race and Class in Modern Society.
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Table of Contents


1. The Politics Of Steel Fundamentalism: The Long 1950s
2. Birmingham Before and After King: Racial Change in Steel
3. The Strange Career of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Segregation of Racial and Economic Policies
4. Title VII in the Mills, Agencies, and Courts: Theories and Practices
5. Tales of Lackawanna and Sparrows Point: Implementing the Kerner Commission Report
6. Litigation Is Everything: The Nixon Years
7. The Limits of Fair Employment: The Consent Decrees and the Economic Crisis of the 1970s
8. U.S. Foreign and Domestic Policy in Steel: The Creation of Conflict, 1945-1974
9. The Locomotive Loses Power: Jimmy Carter's Industrial and Trade Policies
10. An Industrial Policy for Steel? The Decline of the Democratic Party
11. Steel Is Not So Fundamental: The Reagan Reconstruction and Contemporary America
Conclusion: Steel and the History of Postwar America


1. Roger M. Blough and Benjamin F. Fairless
2. Industrial Birmingham
3. Howard Strevel
4. Temper mill at the TCI tin mill
5. Bruce Thrasher
6. David J. McDonald, David Feller, and Frank "Nordy" Hoffman
7. Bayard Rustin and I. W. Abel
8. E. B. Rich
9. Virgil L. Pearson and Fred Shepherd
10. "Soaked" ingot leaving pit
11. Sparrows Point, Maryland
12. Jerome Cooper
13. USWA picket line at Newport News Shipbuilding Company
14. Charging the basic oxygen furnace
15. Auto scrap for the electric furnace
16. Continuous casting of steel
17. Meyer Bernstein addresses Japanese steelworkers
18. Lloyd McBride at unfair trade rally

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