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THE NEW DEAL: THE COLLAPSE OF THE LIBERAL CONSENSUS John Bracman Peri E. Arnold. MaJdngthe ManagerialPresidency:Comprehensiw!ReorganizationPlanning 1905-1980.Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.xiv + 374 pp. Ining Bernstein. A CaringSociety:The New Dea~ the U--'cJrker, and the Gn•atDepression.Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985. xiv+ 338 pp. Roger Biles. Memphis in the GreatDepression.Knonille: University of Tennessee Press, 1986. x + 174pp. George T. Blakey. Hard Times and New Deal in Kentuckij1929-1939.Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1986.viii + 252 pp. William R Childs. Trnckingand the Public Interest:The Emergenceof Federal Regulation 19141940 . Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985.xiv+ 243pp. James A. Hodges. New Deal Labor Policvand theSouthern Cotton TextileIndustrv 1933-1941. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1986.xii + 252 pp. # Alexander Keyssar. Out of Work:TheFirstCenturyof Unemploymentin Massachusetts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.xviii + 469 pp. Richard Lowitt. TheNew Deal and the West.Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.xx + 283 pp. George McJimsey. Hany Hopkins:Ally of thePoorand Defenderof Democracy.Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987.xvi + 474 pp. Chester M. Morgan. Redneck Liberal: TheodoreG.Bilbo and theNew Deal. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985.xiv + 274pp. John Kennedy Ohl. Hugh S. Jolmson and theNew Deal. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1985.xii + 374 pp. A. L. Riesch Owen. ConservationUnderF. D.R. New York: Praeger, 1983.xviii+ 268pp. Janet Poppendieck. BreadlinesKnee-Deepin ·wheat: Food Assistance in the GreatDepression. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1986.xx + 306pp. Bonnie Fox Schwartz. The Civil WorksAdministration, 1933-1934: The Business of Emergency Employment in the New Deal. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.xviii + 300pp. Richard W. Steele. Propagandain an OpenSociety:TheRooset•eJt Adminirtmtion and the Media, 1933-1941. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1985.x + 231 pp. Christopher L. Tomlins. The State and the Unions:Labor Relations,LaH-~ amt the Organized Labor Movement in Amen·ca, J&S0-19(,(), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.xvi + 348pp. 42 John Braeman There appears no slowdown in the scholarly output on the New Deal. One has no difficulty in explaining this continuing interest. A broad consensus prevails that the 1930srepresented a watershed in American history--one of those divides that reshaped the nation's future direction. \\'hat has generated controversy, at the time and since, is whether the changes associated with the New Deal were for good or ill. Its supporters won not simply the contemporary political battle, but the first phase of the historiographical debate. The Roosevelt years were assimilated into the dominant Progressive synthesis as the latest round in the ongoing conflict in American history of the people versus the "interests"--with the "interests" defined as business and its political allies.1 More important, here was a round where the people triumphed, and so decisively that there was no going back to the bad old days. In his influential contribution to the New American Nation Series, William E. Leuchtenburg summed up the orthodox liberal view. The New Deal, Leuchtenburg eulogized, "almost revolutionized the agenda of American politics," "displayed striking ingenuity in meeting problems of governing,"and "assumed the responsibility for guaranteeing every American a minimum standard of subsistence . . . . Roosevelt and his aides fashioned a government which consciously sought to make the industrial system more humane .... Heirs of the Enlightenment, they felt themselves part of a broadly humanistic movement to make man's life on earth more tolerable, a movement that might someday even achieve a co-operative commonwealth."2 Leuchtenburg's book appeared in 1963, at the same time as a major challenge to liberal orthodoxy from the left was beginning to emerge. A group of mostly younger historians sympathetic with what has been labeled the New Left denied that the Roosevelt administration had significantly restructured American society, economy, or even politics. On the contrary, they assailed the New Deal for failing to take advantage of the opportunity for radical change opened by the Depression, for saving capitalism through public subsidization, and for diverting Americans from the promise of socialism by no more than limited welfare programs.3 A more sophisticated reconceptualization of this indictment has come out of the so-called corporatist interpretation of American history. The corporatist interpretation sees as the dominant theme in twentieth-century America the emergence of a new basis...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 41-80
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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