Packer has produced a fascinating personal history while examining why people become liberals even though their efforts frequently seem extremely futile. The author describes the life and times of his Alabama-born maternal grandfather, Congressman George Huddleston, whose brand of liberalism was rooted in Southern agrarian populism and who often opposed FDR's New Deal. Packer also tells of his father, Herbert, whose Jewish American background placed him squarely in the urban liberal tradition of the mid-20th century. His father's life and career ultimately came to a turbulent climax as an administrator at Stanford University during the late 1960s. Finally, in a brief, informative, and moving autobiographical section, Packer recounts the development of his own social and political views following his father's stroke and suicide. The author attempts to demonstrate the ongoing relevance to today's world of a political philosophy that many believe has little future. Packer's combination of personal and historical perspectives, as well as his considerable skill at conveying them, make this work both challenging and enjoyable. Written for the lay reader, it nonetheless avoids oversimplification. Highly recommended.DCharles K. Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Family saga and the history of a political idea blend in this thoughtful, gracefully written reflection. Journalist and novelist Packer traces three generations of his own family and the shifting meaning of liberalism over the past century. Packer's maternal grandfather, George Huddleston, represented Birmingham, Alabama, in Congress from 1915 to 1937. A Southern Progressive, a "Thomas Jefferson Democrat," he started out arguing for universal suffrage and unions; he quickly learned to avoid race and gender, but his class-based radicalism was firm until the New Deal's elitist tinkering made him a "state's rights" conservative. Nancy Huddleston married Herbert Packer, a Yale-educated Jewish lawyer who taught at Stanford University; both were "Adlai Stevenson Democrats" and "New Deal liberals." But Packer took on administrative duties at Stanford just as a new generation challenged the rational liberalism he championed; he suffered a stroke and, three years later, committed suicide. Twelve when his father died in 1972, George Packer pursued his own vision of liberalism: at Yale, in the Peace Corps, in volunteerism and political activism. A fascinating, thought-provoking narrative. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A little bit of the soul of a world class non -fiction writer. Explains his generation of skepticism that is needed for one to be an exceptional reporter of which George Packer is... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Michael Dowling
A biography both of a family and of an institution, Stanford Univeristy, and of government. Brilliant writing, fine character delineation, impressive insights into all. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Wanda H. Giles
I admire the liberalism of Franklin Roosevelt and company as much as the next person. I admire politicians who speak up for the common man. Read morePublished on December 15, 2006 by Lily Bart
What a grand legacy was left to author George Parker by his father and grandfather.
This is not light or easy reading, but is worth your time because it gives you a real sense... Read more
Let me start by saying this is the kind of book that the reader will just fly through. The prose flows. The story is also compelling. Read morePublished on November 19, 2000