Princeton University Press

Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America

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Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America

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Americans at the Gate

The United States and Refugees during the Cold War

Carl J. Bon Tempo

Unlike the 1930s, when the United States tragically failed to open its doors to Europeans fleeing Nazism, the country admitted over three million refugees during the Cold War. This dramatic reversal gave rise to intense political and cultural battles, pitting refugee advocates against determined opponents who at times successfully slowed admissions. The first comprehensive historical exploration of American refugee affairs from the midcentury to the present, Americans at the Gate explores the reasons behind the remarkable changes to American refugee policy, laws, and programs.

Carl Bon Tempo looks at the Hungarian, Cuban, and Indochinese refugee crises, and he examines major pieces of legislation, including the Refugee Relief Act and the 1980 Refugee Act. He argues that the American commitment to refugees in the post-1945 era occurred not just because of foreign policy imperatives during the Cold War, but also because of particular domestic developments within the United States such as the Red Scare, the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of the Right, and partisan electoral politics. Using a wide variety of sources and documents, Americans at the Gate considers policy and law developments in connection with the organization and administration of refugee programs.

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Dead on Arrival

The Politics of Health Care in Twentieth-Century America

Colin Gordon

Why, alone among industrial democracies, does the United States not have national health insurance? While many books have addressed this question, Dead on Arrival is the first to do so based on original archival research for the full sweep of the twentieth century. Drawing on a wide range of political, reform, business, and labor records, Colin Gordon traces a complex and interwoven story of political failure and private response. He examines, in turn, the emergence of private, work-based benefits; the uniquely American pursuit of "social insurance"; the influence of race and gender on the health care debate; and the ongoing confrontation between reformers and powerful economic and health interests.

Dead on Arrival stands alone in accounting for the failure of national or universal health policy from the early twentieth century to the present. As importantly, it also suggests how various interests (doctors, hospitals, patients, workers, employers, labor unions, medical reformers, and political parties) confronted the question of health care--as a private responsibility, as a job-based benefit, as a political obligation, and as a fundamental right.

Using health care as a window onto the logic of American politics and American social provision, Gordon both deepens and informs the contemporary debate. Fluidly written and deftly argued, Dead on Arrival is thus not only a compelling history of the health care quandary but a fascinating exploration of the country's political economy and political culture through "the American century," of the role of private interests and private benefits in the shaping of social policy, and, ultimately, of the ways the American welfare state empowers but also imprisons its citizens.

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Don't Blame Us

Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party

Lily Geismer

Don’t Blame Us traces the reorientation of modern liberalism and the Democratic Party away from their roots in labor union halls of northern cities to white-collar professionals in postindustrial high-tech suburbs, and casts new light on the importance of suburban liberalism in modern American political culture. Focusing on the suburbs along the high-tech corridor of Route 128 around Boston, Lily Geismer challenges conventional scholarly assessments of Massachusetts exceptionalism, the decline of liberalism, and suburban politics in the wake of the rise of the New Right and the Reagan Revolution in the 1970s and 1980s. Although only a small portion of the population, knowledge professionals in Massachusetts and elsewhere have come to wield tremendous political leverage and power. By probing the possibilities and limitations of these suburban liberals, this rich and nuanced account shows that—far from being an exception to national trends—the suburbs of Massachusetts offer a model for understanding national political realignment and suburban politics in the second half of the twentieth century.

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For All These Rights

Business, Labor, and the Shaping of America's Public-Private Welfare State

Jennifer Klein

The New Deal placed security at the center of American political and economic life by establishing an explicit partnership between the state, economy, and citizens. In America, unlike anywhere else in the world, most people depend overwhelmingly on private health insurance and employee benefits. The astounding rise of this phenomenon from before World War II, however, has been largely overlooked. In this powerful history of the American reliance on employment-based benefits, Jennifer Klein examines the interwoven politics of social provision and labor relations from the 1910s to the 1960s. Through a narrative that connects the commercial life insurance industry, the politics of Social Security, organized labor's quest for economic security, and the evolution of modern health insurance, she shows how the firm-centered welfare system emerged. Moreover, the imperatives of industrial relations, Klein argues, shaped public and private social security.

Looking closely at unions and communities, Klein uncovers the wide range of alternative, community-based health plans that had begun to germinate in the 1930s and 1940s but that eventually succumbed to commercial health insurance and pensions. She also illuminates the contests to define "security"--job security, health security, and old age security--following World War II.

For All These Rights traces the fate of the New Deal emphasis on social entitlement as the private sector competed with and emulated Roosevelt's Social Security program. Through the story of struggles over health security and old age security, social rights and the welfare state, it traces the fate of New Deal liberalism--as a set of ideas about the state, security, and labor rights--in the 1950s, the 1960s, and beyond.

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Labor Rights Are Civil Rights

Mexican American Workers in Twentieth-Century America

Zaragosa Vargas

In 1937, Mexican workers were among the strikers and supporters beaten, arrested, and murdered by Chicago policemen in the now infamous Republic Steel Mill Strike. Using this event as a springboard, Zaragosa Vargas embarks on the first full-scale history of the Mexican-American labor movement in twentieth-century America. Absorbing and meticulously researched, Labor Rights Are Civil Rightspaints a multifaceted portrait of the complexities and contours of the Mexican American struggle for equality from the 1930s to the postwar era.

Drawing on extensive archival research, Vargas focuses on the large Mexican American communities in Texas, Colorado, and California. As he explains, the Great Depression heightened the struggles of Spanish speaking blue-collar workers, and employers began to define citizenship to exclude Mexicans from political rights and erect barriers to resistance. Mexican Americans faced hostility and repatriation.

The mounting strife resulted in strikes by Mexican fruit and vegetable farmers. This collective action, combined with involvement in the Communist party, led Mexican workers to unionize. Vargas carefully illustrates how union mobilization in agriculture, tobacco, garment, and other industries became an important vehicle for achieving Mexican American labor and civil rights.

He details how interracial unionism proved successful in cross-border alliances, in fighting discriminatory hiring practices, in building local unions, in mobilizing against fascism and in fighting brutal racism. No longer willing to accept their inferior status, a rising Mexican American grassroots movement would utilize direct action to achieve equality.

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Little Rock

Race and Resistance at Central High School

Karen Anderson

The desegregation crisis in Little Rock is a landmark of American history: on September 4, 1957, after the Supreme Court struck down racial segregation in public schools, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called up the National Guard to surround Little Rock Central High School, preventing black students from going in. On September 25, 1957, nine black students, escorted by federal troops, gained entrance. With grace and depth, Little Rock provides fresh perspectives on the individuals, especially the activists and policymakers, involved in these dramatic events. Looking at a wide variety of evidence and sources, Karen Anderson examines American racial politics in relation to changes in youth culture, sexuality, gender relations, and economics, and she locates the conflicts of Little Rock within the larger political and historical context.

Anderson considers how white groups at the time, including middle class women and the working class, shaped American race and class relations. She documents white women's political mobilizations and, exploring political resentments, sexual fears, and religious affiliations, illuminates the reasons behind segregationists' missteps and blunders. Anderson explains how the business elite in Little Rock retained power in the face of opposition, and identifies the moral failures of business leaders and moderates who sought the appearance of federal compliance rather than actual racial justice, leaving behind a legacy of white flight, poor urban schools, and institutional racism.

Probing the conflicts of school desegregation in the mid-century South, Little Rock casts new light on connections between social inequality and the culture wars of modern America.

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The Loneliness of the Black Republican

Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power

Leah Wright Rigueur

Covering more than four decades of American social and political history, The Loneliness of the Black Republican examines the ideas and actions of black Republican activists, officials, and politicians, from the era of the New Deal to Ronald Reagan’s presidential ascent in 1980. Their unique stories reveal African Americans fighting for an alternative economic and civil rights movement—even as the Republican Party appeared increasingly hostile to that very idea. Black party members attempted to influence the direction of conservatism—not to destroy it, but rather to expand the ideology to include black needs and interests.

As racial minorities in their political party and as political minorities within their community, black Republicans occupied an irreconcilable position—they were shunned by African American communities and subordinated by the GOP. In response, black Republicans vocally, and at times viciously, critiqued members of their race and party, in an effort to shape the attitudes and public images of black citizens and the GOP. And yet, there was also a measure of irony to black Republicans’ “loneliness”: at various points, factions of the Republican Party, such as the Nixon administration, instituted some of the policies and programs offered by black party members. What’s more, black Republican initiatives, such as the fair housing legislation of senator Edward Brooke, sometimes garnered support from outside the Republican Party, especially among the black press, Democratic officials, and constituents of all races. Moving beyond traditional liberalism and conservatism, black Republicans sought to address African American racial experiences in a distinctly Republican way.

The Loneliness of the Black Republican provides a new understanding of the interaction between African Americans and the Republican Party, and the seemingly incongruous intersection of civil rights and American conservatism.

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More Equal Than Others

America from Nixon to the New Century

Godfrey Hodgson

During the past quarter century, free-market capitalism was recognized not merely as a successful system of wealth creation, but as the key determinant of the health of political and cultural democracy. Now, renowned British journalist and historian Godfrey Hodgson takes aim at this popular view in a book that promises to become one of the most important political histories of our time. More Equal Than Others looks back on twenty-five years of what Hodgson calls "the conservative ascendancy" in America, demonstrating how it has come to dominate American politics.

Hodgson disputes the notion that the rise of conservatism has spread affluence and equality to the American people. Quite the contrary, he writes, the most distinctive feature of American society in the closing years of the twentieth century was its great and growing inequality. He argues that the combination of conservative ideology and corporate power and dominance by mass media obsessed with lifestyle and celebrity have caused America to abandon much of what was best in its past. In fact, he writes, income and wealth inequality have become so extreme that America now resembles the class-stratified societies of early twentieth-century Europe.

More Equal Than Others addresses a broad range of issues, with chapters on politics, the new economy, immigration, technology, women, race, and foreign policy, among others. A fitting sequel to the author's critically acclaimed America In Our Time, More Equal Than Others is not only an outstanding synthesis of history, but a trenchant commentary on the state of the American Dream.

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Morning in America

How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980's

Gil Troy

Did America's fortieth president lead a conservative counterrevolution that left liberalism gasping for air? The answer, for both his admirers and his detractors, is often "yes." In Morning in America, Gil Troy argues that the Great Communicator was also the Great Conciliator. His pioneering and lively reassessment of Ronald Reagan's legacy takes us through the 1980s in ten year-by-year chapters, integrating the story of the Reagan presidency with stories of the decade's cultural icons and watershed moments-from personalities to popular television shows.

One such watershed moment was the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. With the trauma of Vietnam fading, the triumph of America's 1983 invasion of tiny Grenada still fresh, and a reviving economy, Americans geared up for a festival of international harmony that-spurred on by an entertainment-focused news media, corporate sponsors, and the President himself-became a celebration of the good old U.S.A. At the Games' opening, Reagan presided over a thousand-voice choir, a 750-member marching band, and a 90,000-strong teary-eyed audience singing "America the Beautiful!" while waving thousands of flags.

Reagan emerges more as happy warrior than angry ideologue, as a big-picture man better at setting America's mood than implementing his program. With a vigorous Democratic opposition, Reagan's own affability, and other limiting factors, the eighties were less counterrevolutionary than many believe. Many sixties' innovations went mainstream, from civil rights to feminism. Reagan fostered a political culture centered on individualism and consumption-finding common ground between the right and the left.

Written with verve, Morning in America is both a major new look at one of America's most influential modern-day presidents and the definitive story of a decade that continues to shape our times.

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The Other Women's Movement

Workplace Justice and Social Rights in Modern America

Dorothy Sue Cobble

American feminism has always been about more than the struggle for individual rights and equal treatment with men. There's also a vital and continuing tradition of women's reform that sought social as well as individual rights and argued for the dismantling of the masculine standard. In this much anticipated book, Dorothy Sue Cobble retrieves the forgotten feminism of the previous generations of working women, illuminating the ideas that inspired them and the reforms they secured from employers and the state. This socially and ethnically diverse movement for change emerged first from union halls and factory floors and spread to the "pink collar" domain of telephone operators, secretaries, and airline hostesses. From the 1930s to the 1980s, these women pursued answers to problems that are increasingly pressing today: how to balance work and family and how to address the growing economic inequalities that confront us. The Other Women's Movement traces their impact from the 1940s into the feminist movement of the present.

The labor reformers whose stories are told in The Other Women's Movement wanted equality and "special benefits," and they did not see the two as incompatible. They argued that gender differences must be accommodated and that "equality" could not always be achieved by applying an identical standard of treatment to men and women. The reform agenda they championed--an end to unfair sex discrimination, just compensation for their waged labor, and the right to care for their families and communities--launched a revolution in employment practices that carries on today.

Unique in its range and perspective, this is the first book to link the continuous tradition of social feminism to the leadership of labor women within that movement.

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