The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America
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The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  125 ratings  ·  17 reviews
This condensed version of Lawrence Goodwyn's Democratic Promise, the highly-acclaimed study on American Populism which the Civil Liberties Review called "a brilliant, comprehensive study," offers new political language designed to provide a fresh means of assessing both democracy and authoritarianism today.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 30th 1978 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1978)
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Ah Kansas. This is a really interesting book that traces the origins, development, and ultimate demise of the radical agrarian Populist movement on the 1890s. Goodwyn writes from both an activist and academic perspective, looking at how mass movements begin, how they become viable, how they survive or fail. He sees the Populists as the last true challenge to the two dominant political parties. They were not, as usually portrayed, unintelligent hayseeds hollering about free silver, but knew exact...more
A very detailed history of the agrarian revolution that began in the south and spread into federal politics from farm alliances to a viable American political party that challenged the two establishment parties, and the dominance of capital itself.

In explaining the evolution of this movement, Goodwyn has much to teach us about the possibility, and the daunting challenges, of another people's movement.
Scott Vann
Goodwyn details the events that lead to the formation and movement known as the Farmer’s Alliance. He examines the origins of the party in the South and how it eventually took a national stage to become the National Farmer’s Alliance. Goodwyn also examines the “system” - the crop lien system and how it started a new method of “economic organization”. The devastation from the Civil War in the South, left farmers with no economic stabilization and left very little capital in the banks (Goodwyn, pp...more
this is a good overview of the Populist movement of the 1880s and 90s in the United States, which was primarily poor farmers across the South and West being radicalized by the experience of unfair debt burdens being placed on them by the financial system. it was perhaps the largest mass movement in US history, yet today most of us barely know it existed.

the movement began through the "cooperative crusade," farmers coming together to try to sell their crops together rather than competitively, and...more
Megan Marie
This book is the last one I have to read for my Progressive and Populist class. HOORAY! Anyway it wasn't terribly interesting but it wasn't horrible either. There was good information. Goodywn really went through the Populist movement from beginning to end and integrated every persons part in its development. I didn't know until I read this what really started this movement but according to Goodwyn it was the end of the Civil War and the crop lien system in the South and the West. This system ma...more
Japhet Els
Brilliant history of the last true American revolution that ultimately failed but seriously challenged the powers that be -- i.e. Wall Street. The agrarian revolution of late 1880 stretched through the end of the century banning together millions of farmers left out in the cold by their own government. Self-organizing from the ground up, Goodwyn shares one of the most honest accounts of American grassroots revolution in a century.

Give it a read.
Sean Chick
Well, I think the trouble here is that the evidence of a true movement culture is scant, and Goodwyn relies to heavily on Texas and Kansas. Remember, the Populists are the Lost Cause of the New Left, and the election of 1896 is basically Pickett's Charge for liberals. Hofstadter may have been wrong about the racism, but he is right in that these people had no 'center" so to speak.
This was a important insight (if a little too academic for my tastes at times)into a period of American history from which not nearly enough lessons seem to have been learned. A somewhat sobering reminder of how far down the corporate rabbit-hole we've fallen.
For most of my Indiana adolescence I was in love with that William Jennings Bryan speech, "The Cross of Gold," and I pined hard for the unsettled activist Midwest of the early twentieth century. This book satisfied that part of me.
Jul 30, 2007 Donnie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like history
Shelves: history
Man, what could have been. This is a great look at the excitement and possibility of one of the most dynamic social movement in American, and how demagoguery and Southern Democratic race-baiting destroyed it.
The full version of this is probably pretty good, but they chopped it up so much it actually became hard to follow in places.
really interesting story about movement building, but too academic in style for me
Earl Brown
Epic story of small-farmer organizing and democracy building in the late 19th century.
Shonda Wilson
A very telling look at an important part of Southern history that is often overlooked.
Earl Brown
Epic story of small-farmer organizing in the late 19th century.
If only every historian had the conviction of Larry Goodwyn!
How did this not win the Pulitzer? One of the best!
Great. Maybe a little dated.
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“The problem that will doubtless interest future historians is not so much the presence, in the twentieth century, of mass political alienation, but the passivity with which the citizenry accepted that condition. It may well become known as the century of sophisticated deference.” 1 likes
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