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  Sunday  February 24  2008    09: 59 AM

book recommendations

The Age of Roosevelt
by Aurthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

I was prompted to read this series by this post:

"Plus ça change, Plus c'est la même chose"

This excerpt is from Schlesinger's The Age of Roosevelt: The Politics of Upheaval. The whole trilogy, I think, should be read by all serious liberals and progressives. The New Deal set the stage for modern liberalism, and conservatives understand very well what was done (and hate it) while liberals appear clueless.

The excerpt refers to Roosevelt's thoughts on the 36 election.

His (Roosevelt's) main problem, as he saw it, was the business domination of the media of opinion. "If the Republicans should win or make enormous gains," he wrot, "it would prove that an 85% control of the Press and a very definite campaign of misinformation can be effective here just as it was in the early days of the Hitler rise to power. Democracy is verily on trial." But he had one great weapon to counter the opposition of the newspapers. That was his own capacity as President to make news, and this he proposed to use to the utmost....

...Roosevelt's main fear about the election had been the press. His own estimate that 85 per cent of newspapers were against him was an exaggeration. Study of 150 leading newspapers showed that Landon had a combined circulation of about 15 million as against slightly under 7 million for Roosevelt. Of the smaller circulation newspapers, Roosevelt may have even had something close to a majority. But in the larger cities he fell badly behind. Of the big dailies, about 75% were for Landon, about 20% for Roosevelt. In the Chicago Tribune, days went by at the height of the campaign in which Roosevelt did not make the front page (one day he did not even make the paper at all). A typical Tribune lead: "Governor Alfred M. Landon tonight brought his great crusade for the preservation of the American form of government into Los Angeles." A Tribune headline: Roosevelt Area in Wisconsin is Hotbed of Vice.

Though the President complained a good deal about this situation privately, he did little to dramatize it as an issue. Yet the people themselves seemed to understand and resent the attitude of newspapers. During the great demonstration in Chicago, for example, the crowd shouted eptithets at the Tribune and Hearts's Herald-Examiner as the press cars drove by ("Where's the Tribune! Down with the Tribune! To hell with the Tribune!"). "These people no longer had any respect for the press, or confidence in it," commented Jon Stokes, watching the scene. "The press had finally overreached itself."


All liberals and progressives should read this trilogy. So many things that we take for granted, like Social Security, unemployment compensation, labor rights, and public works simply didn't exist before FDR. His government was for the people, not the rich. And the people loved him, enought to elect him four times. The Republicans have been dismantling what Roosevelt created. It's important to see how it all came into being in the first place because there sure as shit isn't much left.

The Crisis of the Old Order:
1919-1933, The Age of Roosevelt, Volume I

by Aurthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

From Amazon:

The Crisis of the Old Order, 1919-1933, volume one of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and biographer Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.'s Age of Roosevelt series, is the first of three books that interpret the political, economic, social, and intellectual history of the early twentieth century in terms of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the spokesman and symbol of the period. Portraying the United States from the Great War to the Great Depression, The Crisis of the Old Order covers the Jazz Age and the rise and fall of the cult of business. For a season, prosperity seemed permanent, but the illusion came to an end when Wall Street crashed in October 1929. Public trust in the wisdom of business leadership crashed too. With a dramatist's eye for vivid detail and a scholar's respect for accuracy, Schlesinger brings to life the era that gave rise to FDR and his New Deal and changed the public face of the United States forever.

The Coming of the New Deal:
1933-1935, The Age of Roosevelt, Volume II

by Aurthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

From Amazon:

The Coming of the New Deal, 1933-1935, volume two of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and biographer Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.'s Age of Roosevelt series, describes Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first tumultuous years in the White House. Coming into office at the bottom of the Great Depression, FDR told the American people that they have nothing to fear but fear itself. The conventional wisdom having failed, he tried unorthodox remedies to avert economic collapse. His first hundred days restored national morale, and his New Dealers filled Washington with new approaches to recovery and reform. Combining idealistic ends with realistic means, Roosevelt proposed to humanize, redeem, and rescue capitalism. The Coming of the New Deal, written with Schlesinger's customary verve, is a gripping account of critical years in the history of the republic.

The Politics of Upheaval:
1935-1936, The Age of Roosevelt, Volume III

by Aurthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

From Amazon:

The Politics of Upheaval, 1935-1936, volume three of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and biographer Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.'s Age of Roosevelt series, concentrates on the turbulent concluding years of Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term. A measure of economic recovery revived political conflict and emboldened FDR's critics to denounce "that man in the White house." To his left were demagogues — Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and Dr. Townsend. To his right were the champions of the old order — ex-president Herbert Hoover, the American Liberty League, and the august Supreme Court. For a time, the New Deal seemed to lose its momentum. But in 1935 FDR rallied and produced a legislative record even more impressive than the Hundred Days of 1933 — a set of statutes that transformed the social and economic landscape of American life. In 1936 FDR coasted to reelection on a landslide. Schlesinger has his usual touch with colorful personalities and draws a warmly sympathetic portrait of Alf M. Landon, the Republican candidate of 1936.