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The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Length: 576 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


 “The story Alterman tells is . . . worth restating given the strenuous . . . campaign by conservatives to rewrite the entire history of liberalism. . . . Alterman works hard to correct the record.” — New York Times Book Review

“Alterman’s magnum opus… All aspects of liberalism are surveyed, from the culture of Hollywood movies to the civil rights movement to intellectual debates.… In this way, Alterman’s book stands as the definitive work on its subject.”  — San Francisco Chronicle

 “What a relief it is…to read Eric Alterman’s superb new book, THE CAUSE: The Fight for American Liberalism From Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama. [I]f your goal is to learn about, and understand, one of this country’s most potent political forces, this book belongs in your hands.”  — Boston Globe

“…an intellectual (and actual) history of liberalism that even [Lionel] Trilling would approve of…coherent and excellent….”  — Daily Beast

“…an impressive history, with profiles of leaders both famous and unfamiliar, and detailing legislative and cultural battles that highlight the advancement of the cause. Readers interested in liberal politics and sociopolitical history will most appreciate the authors’ extensive research.”  — Library Journal

“…an illuminating history of postwar politics, international relations, culture, and philosophy—all in one scrupulously researched volume.”  — Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Eric Alterman is the author of eight previous books, including the New York Times bestseller The Book on Bush and What Liberal Media? He lives in New York City.
Kevin Mattson is the Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Ohio. He lives in Athens, Ohio.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2806 KB
  • Print Length: 576 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0670023434
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (April 12, 2012)
  • Publication Date: April 12, 2012
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006LU1PQG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #862,864 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is about the rise and fall of liberalism during the 20th century, and its spurting, Clinton/Obama constrained, reemergence. This is a great book on the history of American politics. It has its bias, but a welcome breath of fresh air from Rachel Maddow and Michael Moore. My review is not necessarily defending (or critiquing) the authors' bias, but attempting to articulate it.

Alterman (with the assistance of historical "raw material" and drafting from Kevin Mattson) is very interested to document and defend the triumphs of liberalism in the last century. He is deeply concerned with how liberalism has lost it way since 1970s. To this Alterman's book is a brilliant success. It is history that will make liberals proud and carry great interest for conservatives, because not only is this book a history of the heroics of liberalism as movement, but its greatest contribution may be documenting the failures of liberalism.

According to Alterman the main feat of 20th century liberalism was not its cultural agenda, but the liberal economics that dominated policy for nearly 50 years in the 20th century (1937 - 1973). Alterman believes that current Democrats have lost touch with the economic basis of liberalism, consequently have a difficult time defending liberalism as a political and economic position.

Liberalism as a successful movement is the populism of Andrew Jackson (see Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s
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Format: Hardcover
This is a political history of liberalism from Roosevelt to Obama, its successes, its internal struggles, its failures, its changes and modifications, its war with a new breed of opponent-- the modern tea party influenced conservative, whose only political goal is to win regardless of the cost in human terms. Alterman's focus is always on the figures who have tried to turn liberalism into political action: Franklin Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and on its major thinkers, Richard Hofstadter and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., each in his own way and with varying degrees of success, rather than on trying to explain or justify the underlying philosophies.

Liberalism's great strength is that it is not an ideology, but that is also its greatest weakness. It's a philosophy, a way of viewing and understanding the world and taking action to make a better world for all of us. Because it is a way of understanding, it invites differences of opinions, even when those differences are destructive to the main thrust of current liberal political policies. Because it is not ideological, it "has few emotional rewards; the liberal state is not a home for its citizens; it lacks warmth and intimacy" (p. 471), whereas the catchphrases and taglines of the opposition, combined of libertarianism, jingoism, fear mongering, and distortions, racism (and in the south, romantic evocations of the "lost cause"), and other easily pushed buttons provide emotional release and a sense of tribal belonging. The emotional appeal of the opposition's ideology has created voting patterns in which voters end up voting against their own best interests.
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Format: Hardcover
I can think of no book that better recounts the achievements and failures of American liberalism than this book. The authors take as their period of analysis the decades from Roosevelt's New Deal to Obama's "Yes we can." Filled with cultural markers as well as expected political changes, the book develops a picture of American liberalism that has sometimes over-reached, sometimes promised more than it could deliver, but nevertheless has changed America into a more just, equal, and compassionate nation. The authors remain gloomy for the future. With checks written by billionaires and multinational corporations to an increasingly irrational Republican Party and an increasingly pusillanimous Democratic Party, the warning of Louis Brandeis, "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. But we can't have both," is ignored by politicians and the public alike. With humility, the authors remind us, people who consider themselves children of the Enlightenment can bring liberalism back from the state of distrust and disrespect that it now owns. But to do so, liberals must regain confidence in the ability of free men and women to build through trial and error social arrangements that are more just, equal, and free; and at the same time they must travel beyond mercenary individualism to build a more compassionate social fabric.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I have read a number of books this year about conservatism, including John Dean's "Conservatives without Conscience" & Corey Robin's "The Reactionary Mind:Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin," so I was ready to read about liberalism.

This book logically chronicles the history of mid - late 20th century liberalism starting with Franklin Roosevelt & ending with Barack Obama. Through this book, we read about the influential thinkers of liberalism; Eleanor Roosevelt, Lionel Trilling, Reinhold Niebuhr, Harry Truman, Arthur Schlesinger Jr, John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King Jr, Ted Kennedy, and Barack Obama.

The writer has a narrative style rather than academic making for an interesting & fairly easy read.

I do recommend this book for those interested in the influential thinkers of the 20th century that shaped policies such as Social Security, Civil Rights, & Medicare that have become fabrics of our society.
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