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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Other Side of 'People's History', February 6, 2006
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This review is from: Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy (Paperback)
This extremely stimulating, highly cohesive collection of essays focuses on a topic underappreciated in American history--the shifts in power from one elite group to another. The idea that small groups of very wealthy men play the major role in shaping the political dynamics of the US is every bit as subversive as the idea that the US has been the site of intense class struggles (the 'people's history' view). After reading it, my sense of the trajectory of American capitalism--from the merchant-slave owner alliance to the rise of industrial capitalism to the managerial revolution of the twentieth century to the recent shift to the South-Southwest--was renewed. Its one of those books you finish and think--how did I not know this already? It all seems so central, yet so neglected. Although elite history inevitably has a strong economic focus, this book by no means neglects gender, race, culture and other social historical themes. The elites are always seen as historical actors, shaped by and shaping their contexts, rather than mechanically performing class roles. Nor is elite rule presumed to be natural, inevitable, or unchallenged. While the book perhaps could have given more attention to elites at (or engaged with) such institutions as Hollywood, the news media, academia and other spaces for 'manufacturing consent', and perhaps underrates the importance of the consolidation of space for progressives in some of these institutions since the sixties, overall this is a very engaging collection I strongly recommend.
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Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy
Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy by Steve Fraser (Paperback - April 15, 2005)
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