ADLAI STEVENSON: Patrician Among the Politicians by Bert Cochran

ADLAI STEVENSON: Patrician Among the Politicians

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Really a book and a half with its discrete essays on American politics, adding up to a very rich study. It is hard to think of another biography of a contemporary American politician with such intellectual high spirits, and as a commentary on Stevenson it is in a class by itself. The first chapter characterizes the Eisenhower era as a restoration of big-business rule which used McCarthyism in its attempt to junk the New Deal. The second chapter explores the American tradition of upper-class reform. Cochran's reconstruction of Stevenson's career emphasizes his family background and his early years through his 1948 debut. He finds Stevenson the embodiment of postwar liberalism--its virtues in opposition, its ""decadent, demoralized, inherently flawed"" approaches to action, and concludes that Stevenson's ""labors to raise an assortment of Cold War shibboleths and piecemeal reforms to the status of a moral philosophy called the entire enterprise into question for a new generation."" Noting that Stevenson remained ""a true believer"" in the Vietnam war, Cochran concludes with a chapter on intellectuals which dissects '30's failures, '50's cowardice, '60's frivolities. The writing is often undisciplined and the characterization occasionally trite (Stevenson ""cherished his integrity but wanted the prize""); where Cochran excels is in evoking and connecting social milieus, practical politics and historical dimensions.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1969
Publisher: Funk & Wagnalls