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Rendezvous with Destiny: A History of Modern American Reform (1952)

by Eric F. Goldman

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2011133,270 (3.25)1
Here, back in print in paperback, is one of the most brilliant and dramatic historical narratives ever written about the American experience. Eric Goldman tells a story of the wise and the shortsighted, the bold and the timid, the generous and the grasping men and women who are the stuff of American reform. He begins in the years after the Civil War, when our tradition of dissent was fueled by industrialization and urbanization. He deals not with theories, alien or native, but with the lives of the dissenters, Populist and Progressive, with their political organizations and schemes, their popular support, the newspapers and newspapermen who controlled them or followed them, the several dramatic flood tides of reform, and the subsequent ebbing. Mr. Goldman has the gift of personal portraiture; by returning directly to men and events, he shows that reform groups have often been patched-up alliances of planners and libertarians, centralizers and decentralizers. The tradition of freedom and the tradition of welfare--both passing as liberal--haphazardly merged in the New Deal, where only Franklin Roosevelt's political skill held them together. They began to revert to their natural opposition during the administration of Harry Truman."One of the most learned, one of the most enlightening, and one of the best-written historical works in a long time."--New York Times. "A continuous narrative....The author stops the action occasionally to insert significant and brilliant sketches of the leading actors...and illuminates his story with anecdotes. He has wit and erudition."--New Yorker.… (more)
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4551. Rendezvous With Destiny, by Eric F. Goldman (read 29 Mar 2009) (Bancroft Prize in 1953) I read this book because it was a co-winner of the 1953 Bancroft Prize. It is a survey of liberalism's ups and downs since Grant's time. Some of it is pretty dry, and pretty academic, but the account of the time after World War One up to 1952 (the date it was first published) is attention-holding. As a liberal I did not disagree with most of what the author said, though I found some of the positions of liberals during and after World War II not in accord with my liberal views. For instance, I did not think Truman's loyalty program was to be deprecated. But I of course agreed with the liberals' view of Henry Wallace in 1948, and gloried anew over the sweetness of Harry Truman's 1948 victory. The book does not foresee how Truman's stock has risen in the years since. An old book, but pleasant to read for a guy like me who calls himself a 1948 liberal. Also noteworthy on how little attention is paid to civil rights of Negroes--to become so prominent after Brown v. Board of Education. ( )
2 vote Schmerguls | Mar 29, 2009 |
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Here, back in print in paperback, is one of the most brilliant and dramatic historical narratives ever written about the American experience. Eric Goldman tells a story of the wise and the shortsighted, the bold and the timid, the generous and the grasping men and women who are the stuff of American reform. He begins in the years after the Civil War, when our tradition of dissent was fueled by industrialization and urbanization. He deals not with theories, alien or native, but with the lives of the dissenters, Populist and Progressive, with their political organizations and schemes, their popular support, the newspapers and newspapermen who controlled them or followed them, the several dramatic flood tides of reform, and the subsequent ebbing. Mr. Goldman has the gift of personal portraiture; by returning directly to men and events, he shows that reform groups have often been patched-up alliances of planners and libertarians, centralizers and decentralizers. The tradition of freedom and the tradition of welfare--both passing as liberal--haphazardly merged in the New Deal, where only Franklin Roosevelt's political skill held them together. They began to revert to their natural opposition during the administration of Harry Truman."One of the most learned, one of the most enlightening, and one of the best-written historical works in a long time."--New York Times. "A continuous narrative....The author stops the action occasionally to insert significant and brilliant sketches of the leading actors...and illuminates his story with anecdotes. He has wit and erudition."--New Yorker.

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