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American Dreamers

How the Left Changed a Nation

Michael Kazin

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Description

A panoramic yet intimate history of the American left—of the reformers, radicals, and idealists who have fought for a more just and humane society, from the abolitionists to Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky—that gives us a revelatory new way of looking at two centuries of American politics and culture.

Michael Kazin—one of the most respected historians of the American left working today—takes us from abolitionism and early feminism to the labor struggles of the industrial age, through the emergence of anarchists, socialists, and communists, right up to the New Left in the 1960s and ’70s. While the history of the left is a long story of idealism and determination, it has also been, in the traditional view, a story of movements that failed to gain support from mainstream America. In American Dreamers, Kazin tells a new history: one in which many of these movements, although they did not fully succeed on their own terms, nonetheless made lasting contributions to American society that led to equal opportunity for women, racial minorities, and homosexuals; the celebration of sexual pleasure; multiculturalism in the media and the schools; and the popularity of books and films with altruistic and antiauthoritarian messages.

Deeply informed, at once judicious and impassioned, and superbly written, American Dreamers is an essential book for our times and for anyone seeking to understand our political history and the people who made it.

Publishers Weekly Review

Mar 28, 2011 – Feminists, labor militants, civil rights stalwarts, and socialists have captured America’s heart—though rarely its votes—according to this perceptive history of the radical left. Kazin (The Populist Persuasion), editor of Dissent magazine, surveys visionaries, organizers, and rabble-rousers, including abolitionists and free-love communards of the 1830s, Gilded Age utopian novelists and temperance crusaders, feisty Wobblies and avant-garde bohemians, patriotic Popular Front Communists and ’60s firebrands. From this tumult of movements and personalities—everyone from John Brown to Naomi Klein, Dr. Seuss to Noam Chomsky—Kazin discerns continuities: radicals, he contends, succeed by influencing liberals rather than winning power, and by championing individual freedom and self-fulfillment; they fail when they attack religion and nationalism, advocate economic leveling, or advance sectarian purity and Marxist dogmas. Kazin’s argument that the socialist economic program was always "stillborn" while the Left’s cultural project—social equality, identity politics, artistic freedom, sexual liberation, and antiauthoritarianism—has triumphed is not new, and it lends the book a tone more of eulogy than of celebration; still this is a lively and lucid synthesis of a vital political tradition. Photos.
American Dreamers
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Aug 23, 2011
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 352 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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