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When the Old Left Was Young: Student Radicals and America's First Mass Student Movement, 1929-1941

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American college students during the Age of Roosevelt confronted two of the gravest crises in the twentieth century: the Great Depression and the growing international tensions that ultimately led to World War II. These crises generated more idealism than despair, politicizing undergraduates, who built the first mass student movement in American history. Led by leftists, this movement responded to the crisis in international relations by organizing national student strikes against war and fascism - which at their...
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Overview

American college students during the Age of Roosevelt confronted two of the gravest crises in the twentieth century: the Great Depression and the growing international tensions that ultimately led to World War II. These crises generated more idealism than despair, politicizing undergraduates, who built the first mass student movement in American history. Led by leftists, this movement responded to the crisis in international relations by organizing national student strikes against war and fascism - which at their height in the mid-1930s mobilized almost half of the undergraduate population in the United States. While battling for peace in the international arena, the student movement responded to the Depression in America by waging a war on poverty. The movement championed a broader and more egalitarian vision of the welfare state than that of the New Dealers. Demanding "scholarships not battleships," Depression-era student activists pushed for federal educational funding and job programs for all needy young Americans. The student movement tested the limits of free speech on campus. Anti-radical college administrators sought to suppress the movement, provoking major battles over political expression. Though Depression-era student protests were almost always nonviolent and lawful, college administrators nonetheless turned over confidential information about their activist students to the Federal Bureau of Investigation - abrogating the First Amendment rights of these young activists. When the Old Left Was Young offers the first comprehensive history of the Depression-era student movement and its activism on behalf of peace, social justice, and free speech. The study explores the role that radicals - and particularly Communists - played in launching and leading the movement. Avoiding the polemics of Cold War-era historiography, When the Old Left Was Young presents Communist students in all their complexity; they emerge on these pages as idealistic champions of eg
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195060997
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/1/1939
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 456
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Cohen is Assistant Professor of Social Sciences Education at the University of Georgia, Athens.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1 Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano 3
2 Cafeteria Commies 22
3 Springtime of Revolt 42
4 The Making of a Mass Movement 73
5 Spies, Suppression, and Free Speech on Campus 98
6 The Popular Front on Campus 134
7 Beyond the New Deal? Egalitarian Dreams and Communist Schemes 188
8 Activist Impulses 238
9 From Popular Front to Unpopular Sect 278
Appendix. The FBI Goes to College 323
Abbreviations 341
Notes 343
Index 419
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