A lucid overview for students of American history and politics.



A highly accessible survey of the Progressive Era, linking its reformist movements to their fruition—or, sometimes, repudiation—in the decades that followed.

“We live in a politically disappointing time,” writes McGerr (History/Indiana Univ.), and certainly as compared to the tumultuous half-century when progressive movements of various stripes worked to rein in corporate power and make the nation safe for democracy. McGerr elaborates: the Progressive Era inaugurated the “American Century,” a period that was resolutely liberal and that ended early in the racial backlash, social upheaval, and sour economy of the late 1960s and the conservative counterrevolution that ensued. At its origin, McGerr holds, progressivism was an economic movement, a reaction against the “upper ten”—the percentage of society as measured by wealth, that is, which really turns out to have been a mere one or two percent of the population who controlled “fortunes with few parallels in history.” Through campaigns for graduated taxation on income and inheritances, workers’ rights, a humane workday, and other measures, progressives such as Jane Addams managed to curb some of the power of this superclass, always stopping short of calling for pure socialism—for most progressives of the time mistrusted the deterministic, Marxist view of the class struggle, and in any event European socialism clashed with nativist sensibilities, which, as McGerr does not hesitate to acknowledge, lent progressivism a racist edge. (“The progressives’ . . . political weakness,” he writes, “was their willingness to segregate the ballot box, and thereby keep so many Americans out of the battle against privilege.”) The fundamental goal of progressivism, he suggests, was to end the battle between labor and capital, but the struggle spilled out in other directions, such as Carrie Nation’s campaign to rid America of the evils of alcohol (which, she argued, contributed to crime, prostitution, and the oppression of women) and Sherwood Anderson’s mission to bed as many women as he could in the name of sexual liberation—quests that would be replayed by others in the years to come.

A lucid overview for students of American history and politics.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-684-85975-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2003

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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