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THE END OF REFORM by Alan Brinkley


New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War

by Alan Brinkley

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1995
ISBN: 0-394-53573-1
Publisher: Knopf

The fabled first 100 days of FDR's administration in 1933 set the tone for how people would come to think of the New Deal: an aggressive attack on depression and poverty by an activist federal government willing to throw enormous sums of money at economic problems. Brinkley (History/Columbia; Voices of Protest, 1982) offers a history of New Deal liberalism that charts how the notion, and the reality, of the New Deal changed from Roosevelt's second term through the end of WW II. One of the major transformations wrought by the New Deal, argues Brinkley, is that, because of its successes, much of the American left came to an accommodation with capitalism that was unthinkable in the beginning of the 20th century. Subsequently, liberal activity in America would focus more on social issues than on economic issues. While acknowledging the justness of many social causes, particularly civil rights, Brinkley views this shift with more than a bit of sadness, writing: ``It does not seem too much to imagine the New Deal's retreat from reform as one major source of American liberalism's more recent travails.''