A young scholar's diligent excavation of a relatively obscure topic in American history: what the Democratic Party was and did during these years of Republican ascendancy. The topic involves long side glances at the period itself, since the Democrats' fortunes weren't determined by internal upheavals alone. There were a great many, however, as the party transformed itself from a rural-based regional coalition to the ""embodiment"" of the second-generation city dweller. Burner discusses three divisive themes: religious fundamentalism, nativism, and temperance. They run through his detailed analyses of the election of 1924, the interim emergence of FDR, the 1928 election when ""a provincial Protestant ruralism and a provincial Catholic urbanism stared at each other in uncomprehending hostility."" In addition to value conflicts, Burner reconstructs congressional politics, the ideologies of major figures (Al Smith emerges a conservative) and Depression echoes. The book offers no remarkable intellectual excitement but it is clear, thorough and interesting. Appropriate for general readers in political history as well as the research-bound.