Cover image for Running steel, running America : race, economic policy and the decline of Liberalism
Running steel, running America : race, economic policy and the decline of Liberalism
Stein, Judith, 1940-2017.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xvi, 410 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1380 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD9515 .S734 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The history of modern liberalism has been hotly debated in

contemporary politics and the academy. Here, Judith Stein uses

the steel industry--long considered fundamental to the U.S.

economy--to examine liberal policies and priorities after World

War II. In a provocative revision of postwar American history,

she argues that it was the primacy of foreign commitments and the

outdated economic policies of the state, more than the nation's

racial conflicts, that transformed American liberalism from the

powerful progressivism of the New Deal to the feeble policies of

the 1990s.

Stein skillfully integrates a number of narratives usually

treated in isolation--labor, civil rights, politics, business,

and foreign policy--while underscoring the state's focus on the

steel industry and its workers. By showing how those who

intervened in the industry treated such economic issues as free

trade and the globalization of steel production in isolation from

the social issues of the day--most notably civil rights and the

implementation of affirmative action--Stein advances a larger

argument about postwar liberalism. Liberal attempts to address

social inequalities without reference to the fundamental and

changing workings of the economy, she says, have led to the

foundering of the New Deal state.

Author Notes

Judith Susan Stein was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 17, 1940. She received a bachelor's degree from Vassar College in 1960 and a doctorate in history from Yale University in 1967. She taught at City College from 1966 until her retirement in 2016. She influenced the field of political economics with major studies on the collapse of the American steel industry and on the decline in traditional liberalism. She wrote several books including The World of Marcus Garvey: Race and Class in Modern Society, Running Steel, Running America: Race, Economic Policy, and the Decline of Liberalism, and Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies. She died from complications of lung cancer on May 8, 2017 at the age of 77.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

According to Stein (history, CUNY; I Tell My Heart: The Art of Horace Pippin, LJ 12/93), the American steel companies and their workers were at the center of the New Deal compact between capital and labor, as well as of the racial changes of the 1950s and 1960s and of the economic crises of the 1970s and 1980. Furthermore, government policies during the Cold War encouraged the construction of steel mills in friendly countries, even at the expense of the domestic industry. Consequently, it was global markets that largely laid down the terms of settlement of the problems of U.S. mills. Years of labor-management conflict followed. This is a detailed study with a highly ambitious premise‘to show, among other things, the long-term impact of the steel industry on postwar American liberalism‘but the book is marred by turgid writing and loose organization. Suitable for academic libraries.‘Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Stein's important book about post-WW II American politics, economics, and race is an innovative interpretation of recent US history. The author offers the definitive account of the steel industry/steelworkers' union from the New Deal era to the present. Moreover, she blends a variety of crucial topics--labor, civil rights, Cold War, business, and international trade--that are frequently examined in isolation. Her masterful synthesis moves beyond previous interpretations of the decline of liberalism and offers this assessment of postwar American society: "It was the foreign commitments and economic policies of liberalism, not the excesses of racial reformers or the racism of the culture, that transformed American politics in the postwar era." Stein's research and the depth of thought that substantiate this thesis are impressive and instructive. The crucial issue of why liberalism's commitment to civil rights failed to bring the masses of African Americans into the economic mainstream prompts Stein to suggest that just as the US dedicated itself to equal economic opportunity basic industries (e.g., steel) began to collapse. National economic and social policy failed to understand that American jobs must be preserved from predatory foreign competition. All levels. W. T. Howard; Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Table of Contents

1 The Politics Of Steel Fundamentalism: The Long 1950s
2 Birmingham Before and After King: Racial Change in Steel
3 The Strange Career of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Segregation of Racial and Economic Policies
4 Title VII in the Mills, Agencies, and Courts: Theories and Practices
5 Tales of Lackawanna and Sparrows Point: Implementing the Kerner Commission Report
6 Litigation Is Everything: The Nixon Years
7 The Limits of Fair Employment: The Consent Decrees and the Economic Crisis of the 1970s
8 U.S. Foreign and Domestic Policy in Steel: The Creation of Conflict, 1945-1974
9 The Locomotive Loses Power: Jimmy Carter's Industrial and Trade Policies
10 An Industrial Policy for Steel? The Decline of the Democratic Party
11 Steel Is Not So Fundamental: The Reagan Reconstruction and Contemporary America
Conclusion: Steel and the History of Postwar America
1 Roger M. Blough and Benjamin F. Fairless
2 Industrial Birmingham
3 Howard Strevel
4 Temper mill at the TCI tin mill
5 Bruce Thrasher
6 David J. McDonald, David Feller, and Frank "Nordy" Hoffman
7 Bayard Rustin and I. W. Abel
8 E. B. Rich
9 Virgil L. Pearson and Fred Shepherd
10 "Soaked" ingot leaving pit
11 Sparrows Point, Maryland
12 Jerome Cooper
13 USWA picket line at Newport News Shipbuilding Company
14 Charging the basic oxygen furnace
15 Auto scrap for the electric furnace
16 Continuous casting of steel
17 Meyer Bernstein addresses Japanese steelworkers
18 Lloyd McBride at unfair trade rally