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Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, & the Great Depression 1st Vintage Books ed Edition
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Long was not just a Louisiana or southern phenomenon. In 1936, when he was shot, he had created a national organization with the apparent intention of running for President. Brinkley has unearthed a poll commissioned by the Democratic National Committee that year that showed Long drawing as large a percentage of the vote as George Wallace or Ross Perot did in more recent elections. And the support was not limited to southern states. In Massachusetts, the DNC poll showed Long getting more than 13% of the vote.
Coughlin turned to fascism and overt anti-semetism only after his popularity began to wane when he split openly with Roosevelt. In his heyday he sounded like a socialist, proposing to replace the federal reserve with a true central bank and the nationalizing of the energy industry.
Brinkley thinks that Long, Coughlin and the California radical, Dr Townsend, pushed Roosevelt and the Congress into enacting a more comprehensive Social Security law than they would have otherwise.
Brinkley doesn't try to gloss over the dark side of Long's totalitarian rule in Louisiana or Father Coughlin's bloated ego and slide into ugly racism. But he does present a economic reformist aspect to their movements that is no longer known -- even among historians. It is more fashionable now to talk about the reform movements headed LaFollette and Norman Thomas as the sources of New Deal economic reform. While those may have been more highminded reformers, they never approached Long and Coughlin in mass appeal or in their power to frighten a President.
The first 142 pages of "Voices of Protest" summarizes the life, rise, and various activities of Louisiana politician Huey Long and Catholic priest and radio personality Charles Coughlin. If you know a great deal about these two fascinating figures, you could probably skip these sections and not miss out on a great deal. Brinkley discusses Long's early life in Winn Parish, a Louisiana county with a long history of radical dissent dating back to the era of Populism. Arguing that this background imbued Long with a fondness for the common man, Brinkley outlines Huey's rise to power through the governorship of Louisiana and his eventual move into the United States Senate.Read more ›
Hofstadter's works, most notably The Age of Reform, were pretty critical of the causes of the American attraction to radical politics, such as it was -- that attraction was fostered by emotional anxieties that all too often morphed into nostalgic, irresponsible, politically conservative, anti-Semitic, racist movements.
Alan Brinkley clearly relies of Hofstadter quite a bit, but with a much more sympathetic treatment of American mass politics and its causes. For him, the anxieties were fully justified. He focuses on the alternative visions offered by Huey Long and Father Charles Coughlin in the 1930s to President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Brinkley argues both men attracted large followings accross the nation by the use of the radio and mass-circulation print publications.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fine overview of two largely forgotten but decidedly relevant political demagogues from the 1930s. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Tom Diaz
My opinion of Father Coughlin has improved, I will have to say, I was wrong Coughlin was nothing like Limbaugh. Read morePublished on August 10, 2013 by Glenn Gammell
Read a narrative history, this is a terrific work on two fascinating individuals. I learned a lot about Coughlin and Long from Brinkley's pages. Read morePublished on November 22, 2011 by J. Smallridge
The 1930s was one of the greatest periods of social change and economic dislocation. Presiding over this was FDR, unshakeable and always victorious, or at least that is the tale... Read morePublished on September 25, 2011 by M. A Newman
An unusually thoughtful and well written analysis of the 2 major dissident figures of the Great Depression; the Southern politician Huey Long and the Catholic broadcaster Father... Read morePublished on June 5, 2011 by R. Albin
I found this book interesting for several reasons. My Dad lived through the Great Depression and thought highly of FDR. Read morePublished on May 11, 2011 by Kevin M Quigg
I've read other books by Brinkley, and his recent stuff (he's a professor at Columbia) is very well written, and has tons of wonderful detail. Read morePublished on April 13, 2011 by Dr. John A. C. Greppin
Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression by Alan Brinkley describes the story of two well-known figures during the 1920's and 30's. Read morePublished on April 14, 2010 by Jason Tanner