The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War

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9780394535739: The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War

"Alan Brinkley brings his magnificent skills as a writer, historian, and original thinker to bear on a fascinating story -- the transformation of New Deal liberalism from the late '(3)os to the end of World War II. No one has a finer grasp of the intellectual, social, and political currents of this transforming era than Alan Brinkley. His book is a triumph." -- Doris Kearns Goodwin

When Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Democratic party won a landslide victory in the 1936 elections, the way seemed open for the New Deal to complete the restructuring of American government it had begun in 1933. But, as Alan Brinkley makes clear, no sooner were the votes counted than the New Deal began to encounter a series of crippling political and economic problems that stalled its agenda and forced an agonizing reappraisal of the liberal ideas that had shaped it -- a reappraisal still in progress when the United States entered World War II.

The wartime experience helped complete the transformation of New Deal liberalism. It muted Washington's hostility to the corporate world and diminished liberal faith in the capacity of government to reform capitalism. But it also helped legitimize Keynesian fiscal policies, reinforce commitments to social welfare, and create broad support for "full employment" as the centerpiece of postwar liberal hopes. By the end of the war, New Deal liberalism had transformed itself and assumed its modem form -- a form that is faring much less well today than almost anyone would have imagined a generation ago.

The End of Reform is a study of ideas and of the people who shaped them: Franklin Roosevelt, Henry Wallace, Harold Ickes, Henry Morgenthau, Jesse Jones, Tommy Corcoran, Leon Henderson, Marriner Eccles, Thurman Arnold, Alvin Hansen. It chronicles a critical moment in the history of modem American politics, and it speculates that the New Deal's retreat from issues of wealth, class, and economic power has contributed to present-day liberalism's travails.

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From the Back Cover:

Advance comments on The End Of Reform

"An eloquent book that will transform our understanding of what the New Deal did and did not accomplish -- and how its fate continues to shape our politics. This is a landmark history of liberalism by the most perceptive liberal historian since Richard Hofstadter."

-- Michael Kazin, author of The Populist Persuasion

"We commonly think of today's American liberal as the ideological heir of the New Deal. But Alan Brinkley shows that contemporary liberalism, largely concerned with rights and entitlements, is actually a distant and diminished cousin of New Deal reform. Those who would rejuvenate liberalism in our time have much to learn from this superb reconstruction of our recent political past."

-- Michael J. Sandel, author of Liberalism and the Limits of Justice

"Alan Brinkley's probing, thoughtful, elegantly written analysis of what happened to liberalism in Franklin D. Roosevelt's second term and in World War II challenges readers to recast their thinking not only of the New Deal but also of the entire modern age."

-- William E. Leuchtenburg, author of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal

In praise of Alan Brinkley's Voices Of Protest

"It is not often that we get a book as good as this one about demagogic public figures like Huey Long and Father Coughlin...a sensitive and subtle work moderated by grace and restraint."

-- C. Vann Woodward, The New York Review of Books

"This uncommonly good book helps to mark the maturation of twentieth-century American historiography."

-- David M. Kennedy, The New Republic

About the Author:

Alan Brinkley is a professor of American History at Columbia University. His previous books include Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression, which won the American Book Award for History, and The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People. His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in the American Historical Review, the Journal of American History, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, The New Republic, and other publications. He lives with his wife and daughter in New York City.

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