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The Age of Reform Mass Market Paperback – February 12, 1960
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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
Top Customer Reviews
Hofstadter is at his best in revealing that the populist movement played -- and preyed -- on the longing of Americans for a pastoral, agrarian past that was ironically little more than myth by the end of Reconstruction. In an increasingly industrial, urban America, the populists were able to set themselves up as downtrodden victims of various villians, chief among them the railroads and the banks.
Yet Hofstadter convincingly argues that the farmers of the West were eager to become businessmen in the boom years following the Civil War, when land and capital were cheap. It was not until they were battered by the economic slumps that are an inevitable part of a market economy that the agrarian movement began demanding government intervention to reign in capital and portraying agriculture as especially worthy of special attention.
The populist's appeal to the little man, dwarfed by powers beyond his control, played well in some segments of the U.S., but Hofstadter portrays a darker side of populism, exposing its anti-foreign and anti-Semitic leanings. Reading about the populist's railings against foreigners and their dark hints of conspiracy by vast economic and political powers, I heard echoes of the speeches of Pat Buchanan.Read more ›
Hofstadter's thoughts on the early 20th century Progressives and New Dealers conform with the writings of most other historians. It is Hofstadter's section on the Populists that has always generated the most controversy, both in the past and still today. In the first third of the book, Hofstadter writes of the American "agrarian myth" and how the Populist farmers sought the "lost agrarian ideals" of Jefferson and Jackson. He emphasizes how the Populists were basically reactionary whiners who impetuously thought themselves deserving of some special privelage, simply because they were farmers, the supposed "All-American" profession. Hofstadter goes further by describing the Populists as jingoistic proto-facists. By use of effective documentation, he shows this "dark side" of Populism, with its demagogic rants against politicians, urbanites, Britons, Jews, and immigrants.
Although Hofstadter indeed is very effective in his writing and documentation, he fails in the aspect of fair historical analysis. When one reads AGE OF REFORM, one should always remember the Populists from a broader perspective than Hofstadter's biased urban views.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Had read this book 2 to 3 times before. The author's method and insights are still valid in my opinion. Valuable to assess current and recurrent themes in American politics.Published 16 days ago by duke ponick
It's a wonderful book on the history of the transformation of the US. The book itself is short and concise. As one of the reviewers commented, it is not an easy read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Knowledge Bee
Another great Hofstadter book: interesting, well written, impeccably organized. You'll find out what a Populist was, but more importantly, what a "progressive" was, and... Read morePublished 6 months ago by JTR
History is complicated. That is one thing that one takes from this magnificent piece of American history. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Stuart Shapiro
Hofstadter is always a great writer to read and has a great number of insights about what people do and why they do it. I highly recommend this work.Published on November 16, 2013 by Robert Allen
This book deserves its status as a classic: written more than 55 years ago, it remains highly relevant to today, not just in his critique of the left-leaning from 1890s to the end... Read morePublished on May 7, 2012 by Robert J. Crawford
A class I'm taking requires me to read the first 150 pages of the book. I intended to do about a third of that, but ended up reading all 326 pages. Read morePublished on February 24, 2012 by free super saver shipping
It was just what I needed!! The shipping was expedient and arrived just in time before my next class session. Read morePublished on October 8, 2011 by College_Student