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Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy (American Political Thought (University Press of Kansas)) First Edition Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0700616671
ISBN-10: 0700616675
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Editorial Reviews


"Offers one of the most convincing cases for considering the Progressive Era to be a genuine age of transformation." --Political Science Quarterly

"Filled with valuable insights and engaging vignettes. An enjoyable must-read for scholars of American political development." --Choice

From the Back Cover

"Lively, timely, accessible, profound, this is a terrific book on the historic election of 1912 and, indeed, on the ideas which inspired the transformation of the American presidency in the twentieth century."--Stephen Skowronek, author of The Politics Presidents Make

"Milkis shows better than anyone else how this election marked a profound and permanent departure in American politics."--John Milton Cooper, author of The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt

"A brilliant book from one of America's foremost social thinkers. Exciting, wise, elegant, and altogether pathbreaking."--James A. Morone, author of The Democratic Wish and the Heart of Power

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Product Details

  • Series: American Political Thought (University Press of Kansas)
  • Hardcover: 378 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; First Edition edition (September 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700616675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700616671
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,642,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Hurley VINE VOICE on November 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Many people today think of the election of 1912 simply as Theodore Roosevelt's challenge of his predecessor, William Taft. However, as Milkins demonstrates in his highly detailed book, the election was the rise of the middle class, workers, union, women and black Americans in their attempt to re-establish a virtual second revolution that would attempt to limit political power from the élites in society. To think that U.S. Senators were not popularly elected until 1913, women did not have the right to vote until 1919 and the Progressive Party that reached its national peak in 1912; that it initially sowed the seeds for the New Deal makes it obvious that the election of 1912 was critical in re-establishing greater participation in the U.S government. However, as Milkins clearly establishes, this was not just the Progressive party but also the Socialist party led by Eugene Debbs that creates and atmosphere of change and greater inclusion. Robert La Follette was the most likely leader of the Progressive Party; however, he was overshadowed by TR's name and political largess. The book is fascinating in the detail of Roosevelt's initial challenge to the Taft within the Republican Party as a moderate, progressive rival, winning several primaries only to lose at the convention. Later, TR quickly re-emerges as the Progressive party's national candidate after a bitter challenge by La Follette. Within this run for the presidency, major figures are involved such as the Jane Adams, one of the foremost leaders of woman's suffrage, W.E. B. Dubois the great civil rights activist, Booker T. Washington, and of course Eugene Debs.Read more ›
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Terrence McGarty on April 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book by Milkis on Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressives is in many ways a tale of the present. The 1912 election was a turning point for American politics. It brought in Wilson and sent Teddy packing, but in many ways left the baggage that Teddy brought with him around for what seems a permanent stay.

Milkis tells a wonderful tale based on extensive research about this election. It is an historically well written piece albeit filled with consecutive facts but lacking in the interpretation and historical glue to make it a superb work, it is masterful notwithstanding.

The path of the book works back and forth on the New Freedoms of Wilson and the New Nationalism of TR. Milkis discusses these in Chapter 1 and the discussion is a somewhat back and forth discussion of the principles and the time which evoked them. The New Nationalism is best described in the TR speech of the same name in 1910. The New Freedoms is best described by the author on page 205 in a memo from Brandeis to Wilson. There is the ever presence of Brandeis in this book which is a powerful description of the great mind evolving his thoughts through the somewhat academic mind of Wilson. Brandeis states:

"The two parties (Wilson and the Democrats versus TR and the Progressives) differ fundamentally regarding economic policy....The Democratic Party insists that competition can and should be maintained in every branch of private industry...if at any future time if monopoly should appear to be desirable in any branch of industry, the monopoly should be a public one.....the New Party (Progressives) ...insists that private monopoly may be desirable...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By I. Kant on December 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
This was a good, but unfocused book. On the plus side: I thought it explained the Progressive movement fairly well, especially in the 1910-1913 period...but less so on either side of that period. It also provides wonderful insights into the 1912 presidential election, better than anything else I've read on that subject. However, the book suffers from two major weaknesses. First, it is far too redundant, and therefore too long and even tedious at times. I would have preferred that the author shorten his existing chapters, but add two chapters that more fully explain the history and trajectory of the Progressive movement on either side of the 1912 election. It currently does this a bit, but in a superficial and unfocused way. Second, the book meanders a lot, and needlessly, especially in the final chapter. There is simply much extraneous material that is unnecessary, even tangential, to the purpose of the book. In sum, it is potentially a great book, but it was published too needs a better editor and another round of revisions.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By iHappy on September 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
By far the best book I have read on TR and the Progressive Party. Milkis is a professor of politics and historians may feel a little cheated. He does not write like a historian, weaving archival data into a rich tapestry to give readers a sense of what life was like at the time. Instead, he writes to clarify political issues, explaining this period to explore its impact on the development of American politics. Although he does not discuss today's tea party movement or contemporary American liberals, readers will come to understand how both groups can trace their origins and patterns to the election of 1912. That, of course, is the ultimate goal when political science professors look to the past. Even so, the detail and depth do put the reader in the events. However, what I really enjoyed most about the book was the writing. It is not beach reading, but neither will it force you to run to the dictionary. On the other hand, Milkis assumes you know how to read a complex sentence, and can keep an idea in your head when you turn the page. It is very well organized and exceptionally well argued. I would say, if I were given to cliche, that I couldn't put it down, but it would be more correct to say that I couldn't wait to pick it back up again, and was sad when I finished it. Milkis aimed high, but the book accomplishes everything he sets it out to do. Those already familiar with the subject will not be disappointed, but I recommend it for anyone interested in TR, the Progressive Party, the Election of 1912, or just interested in a good read.
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