Social historian Tichi makes the case that there are widespread parallels between the excesses and inequities of the country's first Gilded Age over a century ago and the lopsided social and economic landscape of our day. In a lively spur to reform-minded discussion, Tichi offers profiles of seven Victorian-era reformers—including an industrial health advocate (Alice Hamilton), antilynching crusader (Ida B. Wells-Barnett), consumer advocate (Florence Kelley), jurist (Louis Brandeis) and child welfare advocate (Julia Lathrop)—selected for how they typified a generational commitment to fresh thinking and action. And their deeds—eloquently channeled here—do resound with renewed import now. Often from the privileged middle classes themselves—Wells-Barnett being a notable exception—these men and women fought tirelessly to better the lives of working people in a country revamped by sprawling corporate might, industrial organization, endemic prejudice and the concomitant intellectual rationales of Social Darwinism. Many lives were saved and improved as a result, though the system arguably remained fundamentally unchanged. Hamilton, at the end of her long and distinguished life—a few months shy of the passage of OSHA—nevertheless pessimistically bemoaned an instinctive American lawlessness. (Nov.)
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A passion for the progressives . . . Cecelia Tichi's new book dramatizes a chapter in America's history.--The Chronicle of Higher Education
In a lively spur to reform-minded discussion, Tichi offers profiles of seven Victorian-era reformers. . . . Their deeds, eloquently channeled here, do resound with renewed import now.--Publishers Weekly
Highly readable. . . . As much an intervention in modern political debates as it is a contribution to historiography. . . . In each of the book's seven main chapters, Tichi presents a sensitive, contextualized portrait of an individual whose life work confronted, and changed, the circumstances of a rapidly modernizing America.--Tennessee Historical Quarterly
Beautifully written . . . each chapter succeeds in gripping readers by plunging them into the middle of the subject's stream of life, generally at a pivotal moment in his or her career.--Indiana Magazine of History
Remind[s] readers that the legacies of century-old struggles are woven deeply into the fabric of life today. . . . Tichi's writing is always clear; and she invests Civic Passions with narrative brio.--Bookforum