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The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (January 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594036985
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594036989
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


“The roots of American liberalism are not compassion but snobbery. So argues historian Fred Siegel in The Revolt Against the Masses. Siegel traces the development of liberalism from the cultural critics of the post WWI years to the gentry liberals today, and he shows how the common thread is scorn for middle-class Americans and for America itself. This is a stunningly original—and convincing—book.”

Michael Barone, senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics

“Fred Siegel’s superb The Revolt Against the Masses should be required reading for those who wonder how liberal elites came to dominate our culture, overriding the will of the people. Siegel’s book is history at its best and most relevant.”

Roger L. Simon, Academy Award–nominated screenwriter, author, and founder of PJ Media

“In The Revolt Against the Masses, Fred Siegel reveals the intellectual underpinnings of today’s ascendant gentry liberalism, which leaves old-fashioned liberals, including, I suspect, Siegel himself, politically homeless. The increasingly anti-democratic character of liberalism also undermines much of the reason we became progressives in the first place, which was to help the middle and working classes. The gentry’s stridency and hypocrisy—what’s OK for them is not for everyone else—is utterly transforming liberalism today. The progressives portrayed in this book are not so much the heirs of Jefferson or Jackson or even Roosevelt, as they are the American heirs of the worst high-toned Tories.”

Joel Kotkin, author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050

About the Author

Fred Siegel is the author most recently of The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York and the Genius of American Life (2005), which received the cover review in the NY Times Book Review.

His previous book The Future Once Happened Here: New York, D.C., L.A. and the Fate of America’s Big Cities was named by Peter Jennings as one of the 100 most important books about the United States in the 20th century.

Mr. Siegel, who has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and has taught at the Sorbonne, is also a former Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington. A professor at The Cooper Union for Science and Art from 1983-2009, he is currently both a scholar in residence at St Francis College in Brooklyn and a senior fellow at The Manhattan Institute.

The former editor of The City Journal, he has written for The New Republic, The Atlantic, The Public Interest, Commentary, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Dissent, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Post’s Outlook section and The Times Literary Supplement as well as numerous academic publications. He also appeared widely on television and radio including the PBS News Hour, the CBS and ABC Evening News, CNN, MSNBC and The O’Reilly Factor.

Mr. Siegel, who was a senior advisor to Rudy Giuliani’s 1993 mayoral campaign and wrote the candidate’s path breaking quality of life speech, gave the 2000 and 2011 Bradley Lectures at the American Enterprise Institute., In addition to three earlier books, he has written widely on American and European politics and was described as “the historian of the American City” in a November 2011 profile in The Wall Street Journal.

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Customer Reviews

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By JackBluegrass on March 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If the terms Liberal, neo-liberal, gentry liberal, neo-con, Progressive, and Conservative confuse you, you’re not alone. Siegel describes when, why and how those terms came into use in the United States. If you’re curious about all the variations of liberal and conservative we have today in the US, Fred tells you in this short book.

His main thesis is that the highest and the lowest classes of society today have joined together in a struggle against the middle class ("a top/bottom coalition"). That idea may seem crazy to you. However, he lays out enough facts to convince you, if you’re really willing to consider them, while comparing them to your own political beliefs.

My one complaint is that the author doesn’t list specific references for all the statements and books he quotes. The vague name and year given for a person or group’s writings, speeches, or books on politics makes deeper searches harder for us, but not impossible.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peter Cohee on March 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderful book, with some deficiencies. Fred Siegel has obliterated the conceit of today's liberals, now self-styled as "Progressives," namely that they derive their ideology from the first generation of the great progressives, filtered through the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the Kennedys, and the Great Society. No, today's liberals are in fact but present links in a long chain of writers and thinkers, especially after WWI, who loathed and detested the middle class of shopkeepers and enterprisers ("Rotarians" and "Babbitts" being the most common pejorative epithets for Americans), who continue to strive to place American government in the hands of an elite corps of We Know Best technocrats, and who yearn for a European decayed aristocracy and welfare statism. It details, step by step, how the Democratic party, far more than the Republican, has lost its respect for, need of, and interest in the American middle class, clinging to guns and religion. The book is thus an exposé; the exposed will not much like it. But you will. It follows a chronological development, with many illustrative examples.

It is witty, sharp, and lucid. But it needed better editing. There a numerous repetitions, typographical errors, and mixed or inapt metaphors. Reaching back to Plato's Republic would have provided greater historical depth, for his "Guardians" are the antecedents to Wells's "samurai," as is the whole notion of utopian central planning by a trained elite. Of course, for Plato, it was only a thought experiment. Siegel does trace throughout a thin thread of the free love movement that began with some of the original progressives, but I think it should be made a much larger part of the whole fabric.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rc Whalen on April 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism has Undermined the Middle Class is one of the most important books written about American politics in the past fifty years.

The author, Fred Siegel, is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a think tank that focuses on urban policy and politics. He also serves as a professor of history and the humanities at Cooper Union and is a contributor to numerous publications, including the New York Post (where he has a weekly column), The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, Commonwealth, Tikkun, and TELOS.

The Revolt Against the Masses tells the story of how what some think of as liberalism is, in fact, a form of arrogant elitism modeled on an American form of aristocracy long associated with European statism.

“Today’s brand of liberalism, led by Barack Obama, has displaced the old Main Street private-sector middle class with a new middle class composed of public-sector workers allied with crony capitalists and the country’s arbiters of elite style and taste,” the book reveals.

Siegel describes how the American left turned away from its progressive roots between WWI and WWII, espousing a cynical and anti-American attitude that embraced experts and despised democracy and the average man. Siegel writes that the liberalism that emerged from 1919, taking its cue from H.L. Mencken, who sided with Germany in WWI and labeled Americans who supported “Wilson’s War” as “boobs” and “peasants" was "contemptuous of American culture and politics." He added:

For the liberals, the war years had revealed that American society and democracy were themselves agents of repression. These sentiments deepened during the 1920s and have been an ongoing undercurrent in liberalism ever since. ...
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40 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Majority Member on February 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Siegel has hit the nail squarely on the head. There is so much truth in this book that it ought to be required reading.
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72 of 102 people found the following review helpful By J. reilly on February 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover
the first three reviewers have far more of an agenda than Siegel, and tip their hands in their review mainly of conservatism , but NOT the book.
Really not reviews at all , but diatribes.
Read the book, decide for yourself; don't accept a review with an agenda
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book started out strong but weakened a little toward the end, I suppose from having to do with material which was just too contemporary. I read a lot but had to keep a dictionary nearby for such words as "clerisy".

The book brought back lots of college memories of smug professors in my midwest home town who felt we were a set of rubes thrown at their feet who might or might not benefit from enlightenment.
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