Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics

Michael Wolraich. Palgrave Macmillan, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-230-34223-1
From 1904-1912, the American political system underwent enormous growing pains, and political writer Wolraich (Blowing Smoke) gives this decade an exhaustive, detailed examination, from the first “creeping sense” of a new political body into a “war with only two sides” that birthed America’s enduring bipartisan identities. He chronicles the mobilization of a group behind a unified ideology and the book’s massive cast provides the means to deliver a character-driven historical narrative. It a story of change, with larger societal shifts traced back to individual transformations, embodied in Roosevelt’s initially pragmatic middle-ground political stance giving way to an embrace of a divisive progressivism that articulated a “historic conflict between privilege and democracy.” The pressing issues of this first progressive era became ongoing touchstones for inter-party debate and lasting national concerns, including environmental conservation, overhaul of tariff systems, centralization of banking, modification of Congressional responsibilities, and the introduction of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments. Wolraich probes this historic moment in light of an American political reawakening to the idea of the interests of the citizens as separate from, and potentially victim to, the interests of corporations and capital holders; it is a mighty and relevant insight into the cyclical nature of history. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/19/2014
Release date: 07/22/2014
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-137-43808-9
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