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The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War

The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War

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"Alan Brinkley brings his magnificent skills as a writer, historian, and original thinker to bear on a fascinating story -- the transformation of New Deal liberalism from the late '(3)os to the end of World War II. No one has a finer grasp of the intellectual, social, and political currents of this transforming era than Alan Brinkley. His book is a triumph." -- Doris Kearns Goodwin

When Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Democratic party won a landslide victory in the 1936 elections, the way seemed open forthe New Deal to complete the restructuring of American government it had begun in 1933. But, as Alan Brinkley makes clear, no sooner were the votes counted than the New Deal began to encounter a series of crippling political and economic problems that stalled its agenda and forced an agonizing reappraisal of the liberal ideas that had shaped it -- a reappraisal still in progress when the United States entered World War II.

The wartime experience helped complete the transformation of New Deal liberalism. It muted Washington's hostility to the corporate world and diminished liberal faith in the capacity of government to reform capitalism. But it also helped legitimize Keynesian fiscal policies, reinforce commitments to social welfare, and create broad support for "full employment" as the centerpiece of postwar liberal hopes. By the end of the war, New Deal liberalism had transformed itself and assumed its modem form -- a form that is faring much less well today than almost anyone would have imagined a generation ago.

The End of Reform is a study of ideas and of the people who shaped them: Franklin Roosevelt, Henry Wallace, Harold Ickes, Henry Morgenthau, Jesse Jones, Tommy Corcoran, Leon Henderson, Marriner Eccles, Thurman Arnold, Alvin Hansen. It chronicles a critical moment in the history of modem American politics, and it speculates that the New Deal's retreat from issues of wealth, class, and economic power has contributed to present-day liberalism's travails.