A Commonwealth of Hope: The New Deal Response to Crisis (The American Moment)

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9780801884078: A Commonwealth of Hope: The New Deal Response to Crisis (The American Moment)
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Did the New Deal represent the true American way or was it an aberration that would last only until the old order could reassert itself? This original and thoughtful study tells the story of the New Deal, explains its origins, and assesses its legacy. Alan Lawson explores how the circumstances of the Great Depression and the distinctive leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt combined to bring about unprecedented economic and policy reform. Challenging conventional wisdom, he argues that the New Deal was not an improvised response to an unexpected crisis, but the realization of a unique opportunity to put into practice Roosevelt’s long-developed progressive thought.

Lawson focuses on where the impetus and plans for the New Deal originated, how Roosevelt and those closest to him sought to fashion a cooperative commonwealth, and what happened when the impulse for collective unity was thwarted. He describes the impact of the Great Depression on the prevailing system and traces the fortunes of several major social sectors as the drive to create a cohesive plan for reconstruction unfolded. He continues the story of these main sectors through the last half of the 1930s and traces their legacy down to the present as crucial challenges to the New Deal have arisen.

Drawing from a wide variety of scholarly texts, records of the Roosevelt administration, Depression-era newspapers and periodicals, and biographies and reflections of the New Dealers, Lawson offers a comprehensive conceptual base for a crucial aspect of American history.

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About the Author:

Alan Lawson is a professor emeritus of history and honors at Boston College.

Review:

"The most refreshing, insightful, and extraordinarily well-written history of its kind in the last generation. Lawson’s work manifests a new view of the New Deal as representing that latest chapter in the reform tradition of what he terms ‘the cooperative commonwealth.’ His key interpretive points center on the cooperative commonwealth tradition, the significance of ideas, and the planned institutional response of the reformer and New Deal agencies."

(Patrick D. Reagan, Tennessee Technological University, author of Designing a New America: The Origins of New Deal Planning, 1890–1943)

"Recommended."

(Choice)

"Every so often a book comes along in the academic world that is truly refreshing in the sense that the author makes a good case for his ideas and does so without any political ideology or political correctness lurking in the background... A Commonwealth of Hope: The New Deal Response to Crisis, is one of those rare books."

(Michael V. Namorato Journal of Economic History)

"Sparkling and engagingly written... Scholars interested in the histories of the New Deal, the federal government, and the Great Depression must read this provocative and elegant book. "

(Jason Scott Smith Business History Review)

"Optimistic, lively and exceptionally well-written synthesis."

(Daniel Scroop Journal of American Studies)

"Elegantly written contribution... Specialists in the period and in American political development will want to read and ponder it, and teachers in those fields might well consider it for class adoption."

(Ellis Hawley Annals of Iowa)

"An original and valuable contribution to New Deal literature."

(Maria Mazzenga Enterprise and Society)

"A welcome addition to the literature on the New Deal. All academic libraries should acquire this book, and it is suitable for the general public as well."

(Richard E. Holl Register of the Kentucky Historical Society)

"A Commonwealth of Hope provides a highly readable and illuminating synthesis of some of the best scholarship on the New Deal."

(John F. Bauman Indiana Magazine of History)

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