Liberty in America, 1600 to the Present

Oscar Handlin, Author, Lillian Handlin, Author, Lilian Handlin, With
Oscar Handlin, Author, Lillian Handlin, Author, Lilian Handlin, With HarperCollins Publishers $30 (0p) ISBN 978-0-06-017153-7
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From Prohibition and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s through the Depression and New Deal to the present, the Handlins gauge historical events and social trends by the yardstick of whether they expanded or contracted the scope of human freedom. Despite WWII and economic upheaval, they argue, the U.S. resisted authoritarian solutions of the left or right, and significantly expanded liberty and equality for ever-widening circles of its populace. President Nixon, they maintain, was a ``moderate Republican'' who could have remedied the flaws in LBJ's paternalistic ``Great Society'' through his proposal for a guaranteed annual income, which would have helped the underprivileged. The Handlins, who attack affirmative action, believe minorities and those claiming victim status now demand ``equality of results'' instead of equal opportunity. This stirring fourth and final volume of ``Liberty in America: 1600 to the Present'' bristles with unfashionable opinions and hard-won insights. Regrettably, the study concludes with a simplistic, scattershot diatribe at ``elitist'' environmentalists, ``extremist groups'' such as ACT-UP, and politically engaged scientists who ``fulminated'' against Star Wars weaponry. (Oct.)
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