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The End Of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War Paperback – January 30, 1996

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 30, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679753141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679753148
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #251,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A central tenet of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, at least through 1937, was the belief that government's mission is to counterbalance the structural flaws and inequalities of modern industrial capitalism. But in FDR's second term, argues Columbia professor of American history Brinkley (Voices of Protest), this goal was abandoned, and after 1945 liberals turned away from the early New Deal's experiments in statist planning and antimonopoly crusades. Instead, a new liberalism that has since dominated much of American political life embraced the belief that the key to a successful society is economic growth through high consumption. Brinkley identifies the hallmarks of this new liberalism as commitment to a compensatory welfare system, Keynesian fiscal policies for increasing public spending and a "rights-based" emphasis on personal liberties and entitlements for various groups. The author provides a revealing look at FDR's inner circle, weighing its members' rhetoric against their accomplishments and against the ideological attenuation of New Deal philosophy.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Brinkley's latest book complements his earlier Voices of Protest (LJ 4/1/82), a celebrated study of popular 1930s movements led by Huey Long and Father Coughlin. As in Voices, Brinkley is concerned with a lost tradition in American reform, but now he examines the altogether different milieu of the economists and officials who shaped federal economic policy during the latter period of the New Deal and World War II. This was a period, he argues, when liberals abandoned any real interest in restructuring U.S. political economy as liberalism gave up its quarrel with concentrated economic power and instead embraced a more constructed concept of reform based upon Keynesian ideas and attention to consumption rather than production. This is a major reinterpretation of the New Deal; a graceful, careful, and accessible study of difficult terrain in economic history and a timely historical backdrop to the position of liberalism in the 1990s. This book will receive wide attention among historians and beyond and should be an automatic purchase for all academic and most public libraries.
Robert F. Nardini, North Chichester, N.H.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
The title of this book refers to 2 famous volumes on related topics, Richard Hofstader's The Age of Reform and Theodore Lowi's The End of Liberalism. Hofstader covered the period of reforming politics from the late 19th century to FDR and Lowi analyzed the more recent disintegration of post-war liberalism. Brinkley aims to complete a trilogy of works by characterizing how the policies and political thought of the FDR period and its immediate successors became the liberal orthodoxy. Brinkley takes pains to demonstrate that the essential feature of this orthodoxy was an attempt to rescue capitalism from its irrationalities and excesses. Rather than a disguised socialist attack on the free market, as claimed hysterically by many contemporaries, the Roosevelt administrations attempted to build up a regulatory and social meliorist framework that would preserve the essential features of capitalism. This was accompanied by an interest in Keynesian macroeconomic management rather than more direct government interventions. In these respects, Brinkley distinguishes this triumphant form of liberalism from prior generations of reformers who were more skeptical of the claims of capitalim. To Brinkley, liberalism represents an interesting hybrid dedicated to taming both capitalism and radical attacks on capitalism. This book is documented well and written gracefully. Brinkley's basic thesis rings true and this book is a worthy successor to Hofstader's The Age of Reform, high praise indeed. One curious aspect is that Brinkley seems nostalgic for the earlier, and more radical (at least in principle)age of reformers. He implicitly criticizes the liberal founders and their successors for their failure to promote or discuss alternatives to capitalism. I am curious as to how he would pursue this project.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is really fundamental for understanding both the New Deal and the Liberal tradition it engendered. The book's title evokes two prior famous books; Hofstader's The Age of Reform and Lowi's End of Liberalism. Brinkley positioned this book as a bridge between Hofstader's description and analysis of the Progressive movement and Lowi's analysis of the disintegration of Liberalism. Brinkley begins by emphasizing the Progressive heritage of the New Deal. After the conservative reaction accompanying the First World War and the 20s, the election of Roosevelt and the crisis of the Depression brought Progressive influenced Democrats (some former Progressive Republicans)to power at a time when the American electorate was willing to try more radical and statist measures. The New Deal, however, was an improvisation and what evolved was a gradual diminution of Progressive skepticism about the institutions of capitalism. The interest in somehow reforming capitalism in any fundamental way gave way to an essentially meliorist framework with (by European standards at any rate) a modest social welfare system, Keynesian macroeconomic management, some regulation of important markets such as the activities of the SEC, an empahsis on civil rights in the legal and political sense, and a basic acceptance of the importance of consumerism and large corporations. This book is written unusually well and documented superbly. As commented by a prior reviewer, this book is a worthy successor to Hofstader's Age of Reform and that is high praise indeed.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By estudiar on January 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
Professor Brinkley attempts to answer this question in this excellent recapitulation of liberalism's development from the late 1930s to the end of World War II. That period began with the so-called "Roosevelt Recession," an unwelcome development for liberals and progressives who had, despite other differences, put their unwavering faith in the political and economic leadership of President Roosevelt.

Brinkley borrows from Ellis Hawley's The New Deal and the Problem of Monopoly and other first-rate treatments of the New Deal to show how previous splits in liberal thought were further aggravated by Roosevelt's recession. Liberals wanting statist control of the economy; liberals wanting governmental-corporate-labor "associational" agreements on production and pricing; liberals stressing anti-monopoly governmental efforts as a way to increase consumption --- all these guys fought for Roosevelt's ear as the President vacillated maddingly on the proper response. The upshot was a decision by FDR to mix anti-monopoly policy with modest Keynsian fiscal pump-priming as a hopeful solution to the recession.

Keynsianism represented the triumph in liberal thought of concerns over the consumer (governmental spending increases jobs and wages, which fattens the wallet and pocketbook) over systemic changes in capitalistic production. The latter, Professor Brinkley argues, would represent a true attempt to reform the economy. Brinkley shows that during and after World War II, with a booming economy and the defeat (or proved moral bankruptcy) of threats to our capitalistic way of life, the consumer ethic established further beachheads in liberal thought.
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