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A Godly Hero

The Life of William Jennings Bryan

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Description

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: THE WASHINGTON POST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, LOS ANGELES TIMES, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. 

Politician, evangelist, and reformer William Jennings Bryan was the most popular public speaker of his time. In this acclaimed biography—the first major reconsideration of Bryan’s life in forty years–award-winning historian Michael Kazin illuminates his astonishing career and the richly diverse and volatile landscape of religion and politics in which he rose to fame.

Kazin vividly re-creates Bryan’s tremendous appeal, showing how he won a passionate following among both rural and urban Americans, who saw in him not only the practical vision of a reform politician but also the righteousness of a pastor. Bryan did more than anyone to transform the Democratic Party from a bulwark of laissez-faire to the citadel of liberalism we identify with Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1896, 1900, and 1908, Bryan was nominated for president, and though he fell short each time, his legacy–a subject of great debate after his death–remains monumental. This nuanced and brilliantly crafted portrait restores Bryan to an esteemed place in American history.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Dec 12, 2005 – Kazin (Barons of Labor) attempts a revisionist portrait of Bryan (1860 1925), whom scholars have long dismissed as a rabid white supremacist, bullying fundamentalist and braying pacifist/isolationist. But Kazin errs in downplaying such popular characterizations of Bryan as a closed-minded Bible-thumper and bigot. In a speech delivered, ironically, on July 4, 1906, Bryan argued that "blacks carried away into slavery have been improved by contact with the whites." Clarence Darrow referred to his Scopes trial nemesis as "the idol of all Morondom." And H.L. Mencken, after observing Bryan at the Scopes trial, wrote: "He seemed... deluded by a childish theology, full of an almost pathological hatred of all learning, all human dignity, all beauty...." In the place of these popular negative images of Bryan, Kazin argues without much success for appreciation of the attorney, orator, congressman, presidential candidate and secretary of state as 20th-century America's first great Christian liberal: an eloquent voice and leading force in the fields of anti-imperialism, consumer protection, regulation of trusts and campaign finance reform. But the fundamentalist bigot in Bryan trumps the earnest populist at every turn. In sum, Kazin's heroic Bryan is simply not to be believed.
A Godly Hero
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Feb 07, 2006
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 432 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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