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Young Radicals: In the War for American…
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Young Radicals: In the War for American Ideals

by Jeremy McCarter

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Love the material, not. so much the way it was written. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
A fun read! ( )
  gregdehler | Apr 29, 2018 |
Fresh New Voices – of 1910

Every decade seems to have its bright fresh new voices. My own favorite was the 20s, when The Algonquin Roundtable brought together such minds as Edna Ferber, Ruth Hale, Dorothy Parker and a bunch of young men who all made their mark in the media, like Harold Ross founding The New Yorker. Just across the street at the Royalton, George Jean Nathan, HL Mencken and James Thurber hung out. It was the peak of literary creativity. Jeremy McCarter has gone back one further decade, and assembled five fresh young minds to guide us through their era. Their efforts were political; their goals much loftier. Most hung out in Greenwich Village, where it was cheap. It’s a great way to view the state of the nation. And it gives life to dimly recognized names.

Walter Lippmann, Jack Reed, Max Eastman, Alice Paul, and Randolph Bourne are the protagonists of The Young Radicals. We hardly know the names today, but in their time they made their marks, landed hard punches and racked up real achievements. They only had one common trait – drive. And America before WWI was the perfect environment for it. Their focus was equality, in women’s suffrage or workers’ rights, or arts and letters. It’s hard to imagine them getting anywhere today.

The first section gives a lightning round chapter to each of them and how they came to be those radicals. With the basics out of the way quickly, McCarter develops their stories and the connections between them. It continues to move rapidly; the whole 310 pages is over well before you want it to be.

It was an era with promise and change just ahead. The future looked brighter than the present. There were ideas about. They flowed freely, and got rational consideration. Woodrow Wilson proposed to end all wars with a League of Nations. Bourne praised America’s acceptance and encouragement of every kind of immigrant. Lippmann saw equality as reachable, and Paul saw women voting and running for office.

McCarter writes as much as possible in the present tense. It gives the book a more tentative feel and a stronger presence. It makes everything more real. The lives he follows are up and down and never far from disaster. Even when they win, they lose. Even flat out victories are disappointing. The world moved past them, ignoring their ideals. There is constant suspense, constant reversals, and numerous rebounds. It is an exciting time and life is hectic. And it is made worse by highly developed minds, frustrated. It’s a gripping book, giving bright life and style to a seemingly bland time.

McCarter has done a great service in rehabilitating this era and these characters. They are all sympathetic, subject to criticism, and very much alive. They risk all, every day. He looks to them for inspiration in our uncertain political and social climate. He takes solace in seeing Americans protesting today, when for decades they seemed to just accept everything taken from them. His five protagonists are an inspiration for everyone.

David Wineberg ( )
1 vote DavidWineberg | Apr 17, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812993055, Hardcover)

From the co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Hamilton: The Revolution, a stunning group portrait of five American radicals fighting for their ideals as the country goes mad around them

Where do we find our ideals? What does it mean to live for them—and to risk dying for them? For Americans during World War I, these weren’t abstract questions. Young Radicals tells the story of five activists, intellectuals and troublemakers who agitated for freedom and equality in the hopeful years before the war, then fought to defend those values in a country pitching into violence and chaos.
       
Based on six years of extensive archival research, Jeremy McCarter’s dramatic narrative brings to life the exploits of Randolph Bourne, the bold social critic who strove for a dream of America that was decades ahead of its time; Max Eastman, the charismatic poet-propagandist of Greenwich Village, whose magazine The Masses fought the government for the right to oppose the war; Walter Lippmann, a boy wonder of socialism who forged a new path to seize new opportunities; Alice Paul, a suffragist leader who risked everything to win women the right to vote; and John Reed, the swashbuckling journalist and impresario who was an eyewitness to—and a key player in—the Russian Revolution.
               
Each of these figures sensed a moment of unprecedented promise for American life—politically, socially, culturally—and struggled to bring it about, only to see a cataclysmic war and reactionary fervor sweep it away. A century later, we are still fighting for the ideals these five championed: peace, women’s rights, economic equality, freedom of speech—all aspects of a vibrant American democracy. The story of their struggles brings new light and fresh inspiration to our own.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:46:55 -0400)

"From the co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Hamilton : The Revolution, a stunning group portrait of five American radicals fighting for their ideals as the country goes mad around them. Where do we find our ideals? What does it mean to live for them--and to risk dying for them? For Americans during World War I, these weren't abstract questions. Young Radicals tells the story of five activists, intellectuals and troublemakers who agitated for freedom and equality in the hopeful years before the war, then fought to defend those values in a country pitching into violence and chaos. Based on six years of extensive archival research, Jeremy McCarter's dramatic narrative brings to life the exploits of Randolph Bourne, the bold social critic who strove for a dream of America that was decades ahead of its time; Max Eastman, the charismatic poet-propagandist of Greenwich Village, whose magazine The Masses fought the government for the right to oppose the war; Walter Lippmann, a boy wonder of socialism who forged a new path to seize new opportunities; Alice Paul, a suffragist leader who risked everything to win women the right to vote; and John Reed, the swashbuckling journalist and impresario who was an eyewitness to--and a key player in--the Russian Revolution. Each of these figures sensed a moment of unprecedented promise for American life--politically, socially, culturally--and struggled to bring it about, only to see a cataclysmic war and reactionary fervor sweep it away. A century later, we are still fighting for the ideals these five championed: peace, women's rights, economic equality, freedom of speech--all aspects of a vibrant American democracy. The story of their struggles brings new light and fresh inspiration to our own"-- "What does it mean to live for your ideals ... and to risk dying for them? This book tells the story of young American radicals who sensed a moment of unprecedented promise for American life--politically, socially, culturally--and struggled to bring it about, only to see a cataclysmic war sweep it away. Based on six years of extensive archival research, Jeremy McCarter's dramatic narrative brings to life the adventures of Randolph Bourne, a cerebral hunchbacked writer, Max Eastman, an activist editor, Walter Lippmann, a slippery political operative, Alice Paul, a trailblazing suffragette, and John Reed, a Communist journalist. It evokes the America they fought to create in the early 20th century, one that young radicals are still fighting to create in the 21st, through movements such as Occupy and Black Lives Matter"--… (more)

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