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THE POLARIZERS

POSTWAR ARCHITECTS OF OUR PARTISAN ERA

A delight for policy wonks and politicos, Rosenfeld’s insightful study of the development of political parties since World...

An analysis of mid-20th-century American political movements and the rise of an ideology-based party system that paved the way for the current state of partisan dysfunction.

It is generally understood that American political discourse is more partisan than ever: left vs. right, blue vs. red, liberal vs. conservative, Democrat vs. Republican. Pundits often wistfully recall a bygone era when the divisiveness between parties was less caustic, political ideologies were harder to distinguish, and bipartisanship was routine business in Washington, D.C. However, the degradation of civility between parties was by no means an accident. As Rosenfeld (Political Science/Colgate Univ.) points out in his well-researched and fascinating study of our partisan era, the development of strict party lines along ideological beliefs was initially a product of the Democratic revolution led by President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. After World War II, political operatives began to flesh out the concept of “responsible party doctrine,” which first codified the idea of more noticeable boundaries between Democrats and Republicans in a 1950 study entitled “Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System.” Moving chronologically in sections divided by eras—e.g., 1945-1952, 1980-2000—the author expertly traces the development of this more parliamentary style of political organization through the postwar years and its defining moments, such as the Republican Goldwater insurgency of 1964 and the work of activist Michael Harrington to instill social consciousness into policymaking. In a scholarly but accessible text, Rosenfeld tackles the complex issues surrounding party identity, though, somewhat surprisingly, he pays little attention to contemporary politics. With an emphasis on “how we got here” rather “what do we do next,” the author’s analysis proves that the paralyzing political environment was created for a reason and can be changed.

A delight for policy wonks and politicos, Rosenfeld’s insightful study of the development of political parties since World War II is highly instructive for our current moment.

Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-226-40725-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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