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The S Word: A Short History of an American Tradition...Socialism [Kindle Edition]

John Nichols
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A few months before the 2010 midterms, Newt Gingrich described the socialist infiltration of American government and media as “even more disturbing than the threats from foreign terrorists.” John Nichols offers an unapologetic retort to the return of red-baiting in American political life—arguing that socialism has a long, proud, American history. Tom Paine was enamored of early socialists, Horace Greeley employed Karl Marx as a correspondent, and Helen Keller was an avowed socialist. The “S” Word gives Americans back a crucial aspect of their past and makes a forthright case for socialist ideas today.


Editorial Reviews

Review

A chilling reminder of how much rich American history has been erased by shallow messaging. A crucial book.

About the Author

John Nichols is a columnist for the The Wisconsin State Journal and Madison.Com, Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine, a contributing writer for the Progressive and In These Times, and the associate editor of Madison, Wisconsin’s Capital Times. He’s the author of several books, including The Death and Life of American Journalism, The Genius of Impeachment and The "S" Word.

Product Details

  • File Size: 569 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; 1 edition (March 21, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004RI1ZUA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,722 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
138 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cure for Decades of Cable News April 17, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
On Friday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, congress members spoke in defense of Medicare, Social Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other programs that by almost anyone's definition are socialist, programs that were denounced as socialist by opponents of their passage in decades past, programs that would not have been created without the efforts of socialists and the Socialist Party.

The debate screeched to a halt, however, because an opponent of the Congressional Progressive Caucus's "People's Budget" then under discussion suggested that its supporters might be socialists. Congressman Keith Ellison, co-chair of that caucus, protested the vicious accusation and demanded that the words of his accuser be transcribed for the record (and possible legal action?). The Republican congress member guilty of the horrible slander announced that he was retracting it. Rep. Raul Grijalva, the other co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, thanked him sincerely for the retraction. Although polls show socialism to be far more popular than Congress, neither Ellison nor Grijalva insisted on being cleared of the label "congress member."

"Socialism," remarked Frank Zeidler, former socialist mayor of Milwaukee, "believes that people working together for a common good can produce a greater benefit, both for society and for the individual, than can a society in which everyone is shrewdly seeking their own self-interest." Missing from Washington, D.C., is not just a single individual who would hurl the term "capitalist" with the strength to have a retraction demanded.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read for a "basically" conservative September 20, 2011
By Enigma
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have recently joined the ranks of political "independents" having spent many years as a registered republican. I am a CPA, hold a graduate business degree and have profited from entrepreneurial and business related opportunities for decades. I am happy that the U.S. economic system provides such an option to "prosper". I have, though, come to the conclusion that the system is not working for everyone and that disturbs my sense of comfort.

I feel as though it is time to re-evaluate the american love of capitalism and free-markets. This nation has provided great opportunities for many, but in its rush to individualism and "winner-take-all capitalism" it has run roughshod over the hopes and aspirations of multitudes that have not been born into privilege. Though there are moments in reading this book which set my teeth on edge (mostly because some labels carry so much visceral meaning - I still have an aversion to calling someone "comrade") the intellectual journey has been good medicine for my mind. I grew up during the early stages of the cold war and lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation. It was a time when neighbors were actively building bomb shelters on my block. So the words communism and socialism have a particular negative connotation for me.

That being said, John Nichols has helped bridge a gap that brings out a richer meaning to the term "socialism" and has helped americanize this experience. In my observation of our nation's current economic crisis, the capitalist economic system has fallen down in many respects. I believe that a little seasoning of "socialism" makes an economic recipe that can contribute true prosperity for everyone in our nation.
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36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Socialism is as American as...well, you know. July 1, 2011
Format:Paperback
John Nichols' new book, The "S" Word, is a history of Socialism in America. While other history books on the same topic often paint a picture in which Socialism was never really able to take root in the United States, Nichols' has written a thought-provoking and well written history which explains why it's impossible to talk about the U.S without discussing Socialism. In Nichols's telling, the two are intertwined and Socialist ideas have been integrated into America almost since the founding of the nation. It is part of our culture, economy and everyday life.

For most of the 20th & 21st century, the word Socialism has been a loaded term. Detractors from the Right often use it as an insult meant to taint an opponent as unAmerican and extreme. Today, those on the Left for whom the insult is directed usually respond by dodging the label as a grievous insult. As Barack Obama began his term in office with a $700 Billion stimulus, a government bailout of failing banks begun under President Bush and the beginning of a debate about health care reform, it became clear that his opponents favorite attack on him would be the dreaded "S" word. Obama's reaction was not to embrace the term, as Harry Truman had once done, or to use this attack on him as-in Obama's favorite phrase-a teachable moment about the real meaning of Socialism. Instead, the President bristled at the charge, reiterated his commitment to the Free Market and accused the previous administration of using Socialism to rescue Wall Street.

This book looks to clear away the fog caused by a dumbed down news media and a more extreme Right Wing, and is largely about why Socialism is very much an American tradition.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, A Must Read
When I chose this book, for a class report, I fully expected to read and write about how socialism does not work, could not work and so on. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Dispels the "truthiness" about socialism in America
Although the prose risks circumlocution from page to page, Nichol's account of the prominent and respectable role of socialism in America is a dramatic, compelling story that... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Steven Woods
5.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Nichols' guide to curing America's political and social...
America's roots are firmly planted in socialism. In The "S" Word, John Nichols helps remove the scales from our eyes so we can recognize the significance of actual historical... Read more
Published 14 months ago by AZ Rocky
5.0 out of 5 stars America has been a Social Democracy in all but name since WW2 and the...
We've had most of the tenants of a social democracy, but we won't admit it. We are backsliding on most of it though. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Steve Ley
5.0 out of 5 stars Smile when you say Socialism
Socialism: The "S" word?
Shameful? No.
Suspicious? Uh, no.
Subversive? Hell, no!

Mr. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Martha Humphreys
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read on American socialism
John Nichols has written a persuasive case that socialism is as American as apple pie. From the forgotten radical economics of founding father Thomas Paine and the utopian... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Stuart C Elliott
1.0 out of 5 stars national socialism, communism, the state and the deaths of hundreds...
russia, germany, italy, china, north korea, vietnam, cambodia, ethiopia etc, all fell under the sway of the power of the state (socialism/progressivism) over the people. Read more
Published 21 months ago by EAJ
2.0 out of 5 stars Good but has some weaknesses
Such a topic of Socialism and how it truly relates to American politics is often omitted from popular discourse. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mandy
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting topic, poorly footnoted.
The author makes some really interesting points, but fails to back them up with the proper footnotes. The chapter on Marx and Lincoln was especially lacking.
Published 22 months ago by Babysan
5.0 out of 5 stars Socialism in America
As always Nichols displays a crisp, engaging and thorough analysis of his subject. I learned a lot and recommend it highly.
Published on December 21, 2012 by Bruce
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