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The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s Hardcover – July 10, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; First Edition edition (July 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594201706
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594201707
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #563,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

" This is a terrific and timely book-a riveting narrative of one of the most fascinating decades in American history."
-Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals

"A valuable corrective to a lot of hackneyed thinking about the significance of the '60s."
-The New York Times



--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

G. Calvin Mackenzie is the Goldfarb Family Professor of Government at Colby College. He has written or edited more than a dozen books on American government and public policy.

Robert Weisbrot is the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at Colby College. Both authors live in Waterville, Maine. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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This is an excellent summary of the sixties.
Mark Town
There is also the problem of the authors' listing three great eras in American politics when liberal agendas were able to advance "the cause of mankind."
David M. Dougherty
The authors specifically say they found no grand plan for this to occur; unfortunately this is wrong.
Newton Ooi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Town on August 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent summary of the sixties. It has all the hope and the large vision of the many who meant so well and dreamed so big. It reminds us of how optimistic we were back then. And it makes you feel the pain of how it all came crashing down so quickly and with so many lasting reprocussions for the future of American politics. It depicts the many out-sized characters fairly and is particularly on target with LBJ. It is generous without holding back blame. The authors have a large story to tell and they certainly have to scrimp on many matters that could have used more coverage, but that is a small price to pay for getting so much right in under 400 pages!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Vose on September 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although I lived through much of what MacKenzie and Weisbrot cover in this book, I needed the background and analysis they provide to fully appreciate the historical impact of these events. Their meticulous research backs up their cogent argument about the true reasons for the recent rise and fall of American liberalism, and forced me to correct several misconceptions I held about Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey, Muskie, Nixon and others. This title offered me a chance to look back on the upheaval of the 1960s, and early 1970s, from a new, deeper perspective.
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By dpete on June 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Liberal Hour offers another view of a presidency that has been long-remembered for its unpopular foriegn policies, as one that provided a strong domestic agenda and a mastery of understanding the legislature in order to enact it.
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Format: Paperback
This fairly short book tries to summarize the origins and manifestations of all the key progressive movements in America during the 1960s. These include the women's rights movement, war on poverty, civil rights, environmentalism, and the growth of the federal welfare state. The book covers many of the key leaders of this era, such as JFK, RFK, LBJ, Adlai Stevenson, Betty Friedan, Nixon, MLK Jr. and Rachel Carson. The book also includes many of the lesser known, but still important figures of this decade, figures such as Bayard Rustin of the civil rights movement, John Kenneth Galbraith on the Council of Economic Advisors during JFK's presidency, and Earl Warren of the US Supreme Court. The book examines the progress of liberalism from multiple angles, including studies from academic circles, changes in grassroots politics, major court cases, etc... However, given the breadth of this book, it pays scant attention to the murders of JFK, RFK and MLK Junior. A closer look at their deaths would reveal the initial counters to liberalism. The book's authors also make some incorrect statements. One example is when they explore the suburbanization of America, and how this was partially driven by the reduction in rail use and increase in freeway construction. The authors specifically say they found no grand plan for this to occur; unfortunately this is wrong. Yes, there was a plan, and it was led by General Motors and oil companies. This conspiracy is first mentioned in David Halberstam's classic work, "The Fifties", and is more fully explored in Edwin Black's "Internal Combustion". All told, a good, but incomplete book with occasional errors.
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By Rodney on April 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have not read a whole lot about the 60s other than what I have studied in the classroom of a small town community college. Despite my handicap, this book makes very clear and understandable perhaps the greatest era of American policy reform. It tells with captivating narration America's ability to perpetuate and increase economic wealth and political and cultural influence in one of the most infamous times in international history. From the fragile postwar world to the legislation that brought a growing America exactly what it asked for, this book covers it in unique perspective.
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Format: Hardcover
The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s
Forty plus years later it is possible (and helpful) to think of the 1960s as genuine "history." One can sort out what events and policies had impacts, judge them, and frame interpretations. This book does that. If you were born prior to about 1955 it will likely refresh your memory.

The authors believe that the changes of the 1960s could not have occurred without the activists, but that it was the struggles within institutions (Congress, the Supreme Court, etc.) that ultimately mattered. "Government transformed American life in the 1960s, and politicians led the change," they write. "What distinguishes the 1960s is the mysterious and momentous convergence of a public ready for change and a government poised to act." They make a strong case for how impressive the legislative achievements were in the early Johnson presidency, how the constellations had aligned to make much possible then that was not possible before and otherwise would not have been so until much later, if at all.

If you are looking for lessons helpful in our present predicament you need not reach all the way back to the Depression or the Lincoln presidency; you can find some here. Mackenzie and Weisbrot conclude that the tide against the liberal wave had begun to turn by 1966. The course of the Vietnam War and the cost of the Great Society programs led to growing doubts about the ability of the federal government to fulfill its promises. "[B]y the end of the 1960s the liberal hour was over," they say. Windows of opportunity for big political transformations - toward either the left or the right - are seldom open long.
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