The Inheritanceby Samuel G. Freedman
Through the prism of three working-class families, Samuel Freedman illuminates the political history of 20th-century America, commencing with the immigrant foundation that laid the foundation for FDR's New Deal, taking readers through the 1960's era of political activism and ending with today's conservatism. 464 pp.
Working backwards from three Republican party activistsTim Carey, Leslie Maeby, and Frank TrottaFreedman (Upon this Rock, 1992; Small Victories, 1990) deconstructs their family trees to explain their third-generation mutation away from Depression-era, New Deal Democratic roots. He offers richly detailed portraits of dirt-poor, working-class immigrant patriarchs and matriarchs, their children and grandchildren, and many of the people among whom they live and lived. Freedman presents these families as paradigms of America's shift to the right; he writes that this "historic realignment depended extensively, even disproportionately, on families like those of Tim Carey, Leslie Maeby, and Frank TrottaCatholics with Democratic pasts." Freedman offers no simple explanations for this realignment. Some family members shifted allegiance from Democratic machines to Republican ones in their move from the city to the suburbs; others resented the welfare system and minority demands, comparing them unfavorably to their own by-the-bootstraps experiences. And someincluding the three contemporary subjectsturned to conservatism as idealists, in opposition to the perceived failures of liberalism, especially as it affects their class and kind. Freedman deserves credit for not attempting simplistic explanations for this rightward realignment. At the same time, however, he lets the wealth of information he accumulated in his research get away from him, telling us more than we need to know about the inner workings of Montgomery Ward (in connection with the Maeby family) or the tactics employed by Maeby and Carey in recent election campaigns.
A book of great value as a manual to Democratic and Republican operatives, and of great interest, as autobiograpy, to the Republican descendants of ethnic New Deal Democrats. A hundred pages shorter, it would appeal to an even broader audience.
- Simon & Schuster
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- 1.04(w) x 5.50(h) x 8.50(d)
Meet the Author
Samuel G. Freedman is a columnist for The New York Times and a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of six acclaimed books, four of which have been New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Freedman also has written frequently for USA TODAY, New York magazine, Rolling Stone, The Jerusalem Post, Tablet, The Forward, and Salon.com. He lives in Manhattan with his fiance and his children.
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