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The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s
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The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  72 ratings  ·  13 reviews
A vibrant, revelatory history of the liberal moment of the 60s, one which argues that Washington wasn't simply a target of reform but was actually the era's most effective engine of change. In many accounts of the 60s, Washington is portrayed as a target of reform: a reluctant group of politicians coaxed into accepting the radical spirit the day demanded. In this volume of ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published July 10th 2008 by Penguin Press (NYC) (first published 2008)
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Kevin Scott
This did not turn out to be the book it claims to be. Most fundamentally, the authors frame this as a book about how the elites, Congress, the President (and his staff), and the Supreme Court, issued in so much of the social change of the 1960s that is typically attributed to broader social movements. But I guess, to me, the story of the Court and of LBJ's big push in 1964 and 1965 is a well-told story. I was looking for, and thought I would get, the story of how Congress was so remarkably produ ...more
Apr 04, 2010 Daniel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Daniel by: Stephanie Fitch
Shelves: non-fiction, research
This book was a slow read for me, most likely because I hadn't read an honest-to-God political science text since I switched majors from political science to theater ten years ago. However, it was remarkably cogent and easy to read for all that it required the exercise of mental muscles long left dormant. There are parts that are repetitious, but each chapter goes over the decade with a new focus and some things invariably need repeating.

I picked this up as a recommendation to help me submerse m
Erik Graff
Oct 16, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: US citizens
Recommended to Erik by: no one
This book reviews the spate of progressive legislation initiated by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and passed by the Congress during the period spanning 1962-67. Covered also are rulings by the Supreme Court under Justice Earl Warren. The thesis propounded by the authors is that the political initiative during these years was primarily with legislators and the courts, spurred in some cases by popular demands, but often anticipatory of public sentiment. This liberal direction in public policy was ...more
I'm a total failure as a son for taking this long to finish my own father's Pulitzer-finalist magnum opus. But I'm so glad to have finally gotten around to it and so proud of my Dad and our dear family friend Rob Weisbrot. They cover so much ground in this book, it's amazing that it's less than 400 pages long. It throws the decade of the 1960s into a whole new light, showing that much of the progress made in that era happened not because of social revolutions and street protests, but because of ...more
Cal Mackenzie and Rob Weisbrot are professors at Colby. Both impressive scholars. The book was up for the Pulitzer. It's a fascinating thesis on the 60s when government, ie., Congress, worked, when chairman ruled but compromised, and when innovation was prized. This is the best book for putting the 1960s in perspective.
Andrew Klein
Get yer lib-ruhl bona fides in order. One thing to take away: liberals provided a lot of the rational for massive military spending as a way to stimulate American industry. Oh yeah, and Vietnam. That, too.
Craig Werner
Coin flip between this and Allen Matusow's The Unraveling of America as the best place to start reading about the (mostly mainstream) political culture of the 1960s. Matusow published his study in 1985, when some of the longer term patterns in the historiography and post-60s political culture hadn't yet come into focus; Mackenzie and Weisbrot have done a good job taking more recent scholarship into account in their synthetic history. They write clearly and keep the main narrative concerning the ...more
The 1960's are often a blip on the screen of popular historical perception: a quick burst of hair, hippies and getting high. Mackenzie and Weisbrot reveal that the liberal attitudes of the hippie movement were reflected in the establishment to no small degree, despite the former's antipathy to the latter, across a much broader spectrum than is often thought. The usual liberal causes are examined, including civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, and anti-militarism. This is a work of synthesis ...more
Joe Rodeck
There's a good, if worshipful, LBJ bio buried inside these pages. But this book is so disorderly that it's hardly worth the time. With its cast of thousands, this would be mostly of interest to hard core elderly Democrats.

Lesson of the Day: Beware of books written by professors: brilliant babble; mostly "So what else is new?"
Emily Bragg
not bad for a book picked up off the streets. only annoying thing was that when they kept going back to the start of the decade, it was hard to keep track sometimes of whether Johnson was VP or president when he comes up.
This is a fascinating and very timely book that tackles the question of why there was such an outpouring of liberal legislation in the mid-1960s, and why that outpouring stopped. Definitely a must-read for anyone who is interested in how legislation gets passed or how political consensus is built, although if you really want details of the inner workings of Congress, you'll have to go elsewhere.
Good book to read prior election and still a good book. Mackenzie is a good speaker, too. Professor at Colby College in Maine.
Trinity School Summer Reading
How Washington–Congress and the President—led the movement that resulted in the great legislative reforms of the 1960s.
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