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A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920
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A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  173 ratings  ·  10 reviews
With America's current and ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor and the constant threat of the disappearance of the middle class, the Progressive Era stands out as a time when the middle class had enough influence on the country to start its own revolution. Before the Progressive Era most Americans lived on farms, working from before sunrise to after sundown eve ...more
Paperback, 424 pages
Published July 7th 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published September 15th 2003)
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This is a fantastic survey of an important historical era, as well as a remarkable synthesis - interesting, informative, and easy to read. The resonance of this time in American history with our contemporary political, economic, and social situations is both striking and useful. I would highly recommend this book.
This book read like a college student's thesis in my mind. It started out fairly well but increasingly felt like simply a one-sided presentation of the Progressive Movement. Great overview of the movement and its ideals, but not an in-depth look at the era.
Megan Marie
This is the second book I had to read for my seminar on the progressive and populist movements in America. Compared to the Hofstadter book I read last week this one is leaps and bounds ahead of that. I am not a huge fan of non-fiction as anyone who knows me can tell you, but this book was actually decent. The author really drug you into the story whether you wanted him to or not. He portrayed famous faces of the progressive movement as well as people who were simply affected by it. This book rea ...more
Caitlin Marineau
The early twentieth century was a period of great social upheaval. More and more people began questioning the power of big business in the country, questions about morality increasingly came to the forefront, and issues relating to immigration and segregation affected the entire country. In the midst of all these issues, progressives sought to remake the country into a “middle-class paradise,” and attempted to mold society in their image. In A Fierce Discontent McGerr demonstrates the radical ch ...more
History is often about a series of wars, so American history focuses on the Revolution, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, etc. To get a handle on the 19th Century (outside of the Civil War) I recommend 2 books. "The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln" by Sean Wilentz which is an excellent history of the 1st 1/2 of 19th century America. And this book, "A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920" to cover the period between Reconstruction and WWI ...more
A good read, and pretty enjoyable considering it was one that was used for an upper level history course on the time frame(those readings are often quite dull). For what it contains, the book could be 4 stars. However, it shows a heavy bias towards unions, which is alright in the abstract but not as a work for historical learning and such. Also, it doesn't present the non-McGerr view on just about anything, so if a reader doesn't have a background in the subject, it can lead to a very skewed vie ...more
Lauren Albert
A good basic introduction to the era. I found interesting his discussion of the way WWI aided progressivism by giving the federal government unprecedented powers to regulate society and business. I thought McGerr had some unusual (to me anyway) perspectives that I don't recall reading about elsewhere. He believes that progressives promoted segregation.

“True to their mission to create a safe society for themselves and their children, the progressives turned to segregation as a way to halt danger
Geared towards an undergraduate audience, I found his use of anecdotes and simplifications tedious. I wish he didn't try to cover so much, and instead focused on covering the actual movement and different types of people that may have been involved (i.e. not just white, middle-class people).
McGerr is a Fierce Pessimist but makes some good points. He does leave out some important perspective regarding the Gilded Age and key Progressive characters but otherwise it was a good read and provided a different but interesting perspective on the legacy of the Progressive Era.
I think I would have liked this book better if it wasn't so pro-union.
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A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in A The Promise of American Life Of the People: A History of the United States, Concise, Volume II: Since 1865 Of the People: A History of the United States Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume I: To 1877

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