Cover image for The achievement of American liberalism : the New Deal and its legacies
The achievement of American liberalism : the New Deal and its legacies
Chafe, William H., 1942-
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xviii, 346 pages ; 24 cm
-- New Deal experiments / -- Alan Brinkley -- High tide : Roosevelt, Truman, and the Democratic party, 1932-1952 / -- Alonzo L. Hamby -- Roosevelt court / -- Melvin I. Urofsky -- -- Voting against the hammer and sickle : Communism as an issue in American politics / -- Richard M. Fried -- Ethical responsibilities of the scientist : the case of J. Robert Oppenheimer / -- Richard Polenberg -- Race in America : the ultimate test of liberalism / -- William H. Chafe -- African Americans, American Jews, and the Holocaust / -- Harvard Sitkoff -- Race, rock and roll, and the rigged society : the payola scandal and the political culture of the 1950s / -- Steven F. Lawson -- "A revolution but half accomplished" : the twentieth century's engagement with child-raising, women's work, and feminism / -- Cynthia Harrison -- Race, class, and gender in southern history : forces that unite, forces that divide / -- William H. Chafe -- Liberalism after the sixties : a reconnaissance / -- Otis L. Graham Jr.
Reading Level:
1510 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E806 .M63 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The New Deal established the contours and character of modern American democracy. It created an anchor and a reference point for American liberal politics through the struggles for racial, gender, and economic equality in the five decades that followed it. Indeed, the ways that liberalism has changed in meaning since the New Deal provide a critical prism through which to understand twentieth-century politics. From the consensus liberalism of the war years to the strident liberalism of the sixties to the besieged liberalism of the eighties and through the more recent national debates about welfare reform and Social Security privatization, the prominent historians gathered here explore the convoluted history of the complex legacy of the New Deal and its continuing effect on the present.

In its scope and variety of subjects, this book reflects the protean quality of American liberalism. Alan Brinkley focuses on the range of choices New Dealers faced. Alonzo Hamby traces the Democratic Party's evolving effort to incorporate New Deal traditions in the Cold War era. Richard Fried offers a fresh look at the impact of McCarthyism. Richard Polenberg situates Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, in a tradition of liberal thought. And Melvin Urosfsky shows how the Roosevelt Court set the legal dimensions within which the debate about the meaning of liberalism would be conducted for decades. Other subjects include the effect of the Holocaust on relations between American Jews and African Americans; the limiting effects of racial and gender attitudes on the potential for meaningful reform; and the lasting repercussions of the tumultuous 1960s.

Provocative, illuminating and sure to raise questions for future study, The Achievement of American Liberalism testifies to a vibrant and vital field of inquiry.

Author Notes

William H. Chafe is dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences and Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History at Duke University. He is the author of many books including The Unfinished Journey: America Since World War II.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

With this volume, editor Chafe (history, Duke), a prominent historian of postwar America, honors William Leuchtenburg, perhaps the leading New Deal historian, with a collection of 11 new essays assessing the course of American liberalism from the 1930s to date. Chafe, most recently editor of Remembering Jim Crow, is joined in this effort by an impressive list of contributors, including Alan Brinkley, Alonzo Hamby, Melvin Urofsky, and others. While the chapters are uneven, as is often said of Festschriften, it is not the quality that varies; indeed, the pieces range from good to excellent. Instead, the focus is not sharp, as broad views of traditional topics, such as fine analyses of New Deal reform programs and of Democratic politics, by Brinkley and Hamby, respectively, fail to meld with more narrowly conceived studies, such as those on J. Robert Oppenheimer and on payola in the 1950s music industry. Still, the volume is well worth acquiring by any academic library for the names in the table of contents alone, not to mention the contributions from Chafe himself on the liberal fault lines of race, class, and gender. For academic libraries.-Robert F. Nardini, Chichester, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This book comprises 11 chapters that explore the achievements of the New Deal and the trials of US liberalism since the 1930s. Alan Brinkley sets the tone with the first essay, "The New Deal Experiments." Otis Graham concludes the volume with "Liberalism after the Sixties." In between, various authors explore liberalism's accomplishments in diverse areas. Together, the essays explore significant aspects of the contradictory features and evolving definition of the liberal consensus that affected US society during the decades following WW II. That consensus included the ideas that capitalism was superior to communism, capitalism and democracy were each indispensable to the other, US society had no organic flaws and therefore needed only incremental reform, and Americans were united by anticommunism. A unifying theme is that each essayist benefited from the academic legacy of William E. Leuchtenburg, whose original thinking explored questions about the origins and reform nature of the New Deal and shaped the debate about liberalism for a generation. This book will be useful for those seeking an understanding of US politics over the last decades of the 20th century. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Undergraduate collections and up. J. P. Sanson Louisiana State University at Alexandria

Table of Contents

IntroductionWilliam H. Chafe
1 The New Deal ExperimentsAlan Brinkley
2 High Tide: Roosevelt, Truman, and the Democratic Party, 1932-1952Alonzo L. Hamby
3 The Roosevelt CourtMelvin I. Urofsky
4 Voting Against the Hammer and Sickle: Communism as an Issue in American PoliticsRichard M. Fried
5 The Ethical Responsibilities of the Scientist: The Case of J. Robert OppenheimerRichard Polenberg
6 Race in America: The Ultimate Test of LiberalismWilliam H. Chafe
7 African Americans, American Jews, and the HolocaustHarvard Sitkoff
8 Race, Rock and Roll, and the Rigged Society: The Payola Scandal and the Political Culture of the 1950sSteven F. Lawson
9 "A Revolution But Half Accomplished": The Twentieth Century's Engagement with Child-Raising, Women's Work, and FeminismCynthia Harrison
10 Race, Class, and Gender in Southern History: Forces That Unite, Forces That DivideWilliam H. Chafe
11 Liberalism After the Sixties: A ReconnaissanceOtis L. Graham Jr