Thursday, June 16, 2011
A panoramic yet intimate history of the American left—of the reformers, radicals, and idealists who have fought for a more just and human society, from the abolitionists to Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore—that gives us a revelatory new way of looking at two centuries of American politics and culture.
Michael Kazin—one of today’s most respected historians of American politics—takes us from abolitionism and early feminism to the labor struggles of the industrial age, as well as to the emergence of anarchists and socialists and, later, the communists of the twentieth century; he shows how, in the sixties and seventies, the New Left fell short politically but transformed the cultural landscape. While few of these movements achieved success on their own terms, Kazin shows how they also did much to bring about significant changes: equal opportunity for all; the celebration of sexual pleasure; multiculturalism in the media and schools; the popularity of books and films with altruistic and anti-authoritarian messages.
Deeply informed, at once judicious and impassioned, and superbly written, American Dreamers is an essential book for our time and for an enlarged understanding of our political history. Michael Kazin is a professor of history at Georgetown University.