The La Follettes of Wisconsin: Love and Politics in Progressive America

Overview

The La Follettes of Wisconsin—Robert, Belle, and their children, Bob Jr., Phil, Fola, and Mary—are vividly brought to life in this collective biography of an American political family. As governor of Wisconsin (1901–06) and U.S. Senator (1906–25), "Fighting Bob" battled relentlessly for his Progressive vision of democracy—an idealistic mixture of informed citizenry and enlightened egalitarianism.
            By contrast, the...

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The La Follettes of Wisconsin: Love and Politics in Progressive America

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Overview

The La Follettes of Wisconsin—Robert, Belle, and their children, Bob Jr., Phil, Fola, and Mary—are vividly brought to life in this collective biography of an American political family. As governor of Wisconsin (1901–06) and U.S. Senator (1906–25), "Fighting Bob" battled relentlessly for his Progressive vision of democracy—an idealistic mixture of informed citizenry and enlightened egalitarianism.
            By contrast, the private man suffered from intense, isolated periods of depression and relied heavily on his family for survival. Together, "Old Bob" and his beloved wife, Belle Case La Follette—a lawyer, journalist, and Progressive leader in her own right—raised their children in the distinctly uncompromising La Follette tradition of challenging social and political ills. Fola became a campaigner for women's suffrage, Phil was governor of Wisconsin, and "Young Bob" became a U.S. senator.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Focusing on the intense personal relationships that bound the state's first family together in the pursuit of the public good, Weisberger's account breaks fresh ground in its analysis of the origins and development of Wisconsin Progressivism and enhances our understanding of Midwestern insurgency."—James J. Lorence, Journal of American History

“Highly readable, judicious in tone, aware of the La Follettes’ limitations while insistent upon their manifest accomplishments, committed in its admiration of reform values and goals, and long overdue. Its attention to love and affection within the [La Follette] family demonstrates how important these values and relationships can be to any family, including political ones.”—John E. Miller, Reviews in American History

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Weisberger ( From Sea to Shining Sea: A History of the United States ) here presents a carefully researched biography of the La Follettes, leaders in the Midwest Progressive movement that flourished in the late 1800s. Charismatic Robert (1855-1925) and his wife Bell (1859-1931) shared a commitment to democratic government and dedicated themselves to fighting corporate monopolies and corrupt politicians. As governor of Wisconsin (1901-1906) and a U.S. Senator (1906-1925), Robert sponsored many civic reforms. Opposed to WW I, he was denounced publicly by President Wilson. The La Follettes' three children, raised in an atmosphere of political idealism, were also activists. Their son Robert, who committed suicide in 1953, succeeded his father to the Senate; Phil, too, followed his father's path by becoming governor of Wisconsin; Fola, an actress, worked for women's suffrage. Weisberger's study is most successful as a family portrait; it is less compelling as a chronicle of the Progressive movement. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Apr.)
Booknews
An intimate portrait of one of America's dynastic political families. The La Follettes were steeped in a commitment to challenge (and cure) society's ills, led by family patriarch "Fighting Bob" who was governor of Wisconsin (1901-1906) and US Senator (1906-1925). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299141349
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Bernard A. Weisberger is a contributing editor for American Heritage. In his distinguished career, he has published seventeen books and countless articles on Americana. His television and film credentials include collaborations with Bill Moyers and Ken Burns.
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Table of Contents

Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
 
1. Belle and Bob (1879–1905)
2. Bob: On the Road and on the Rise (1906–1911)
3. Belle: A “New Woman” and Her Family (1891–1911)
4. Fola: From Art to Activism (1904–1911)
5. Transition Time: The Family Completed (1912–1916)
6. The Catastrophe: Alone and at Bay (1917–1919)
7. In Another Country: Old Bob’s Last Campaigns (1919–1925)
8. The Succession That Wasn’t (1925–1941)
Epilogue: The War and After
 
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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