Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time
In political conversations with progressives, I have often heard the complaint that President Obama should have instituted another New Deal. Today, the New Deal is held up as a triumph of liberalism and reformist politics, and a major contribu ...more
But he also examines America's place in the world at a time when it was less clear that democracy was the way. Fascism, co ...more
The fear portion, though, is weaker and doesn't always blend as well with the "dirty hands" theme. I think the book would have been stronger had the author focused on one or the other.
The first dirty hand we learn about is the relian ...more
The book focuses on the New Deal, defined rather broadly as lasting until the Eisenhower Presidency. Roosevelt is not mentioned much however and this book is actually a congressional history more than anything else. It is a rich argument and at times it is hard to tell the author's feelings towards Roosevelt and his legacy. The basic premise is that the New ...more
Katznelson brings all kinds of new perspectives into this non-linear history of the New Deal. Two of them are particularly worthy of mention. The first is Katznelson's global framing of the New Deal. The Great Depression and the interwar period were probably the lowest point in 20th century history for liberal democracy and liberal ideas of progress. The fascists and communists had their own answers to the ...more
The advantage any student of history has over the objects of her study is that she already knows how their story ends. The actors under scrutiny, however, are operating blind. This lack of precognition provides a critical context for Fear Itself, Ira Katznelson’s sprawling account of the United States during the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S Truman presidencies.
“The only thing we have to fear”, in Roosevelt’s inaugural formulation, was fear itself, and it’s tempt...more
This was an interesting read. I had heard a bit about how the political platforms of the two major parties in the US used to be pretty ...more
Ira Katznelson hopes to give us a new view of the New Deal, one that is both vast and intimate. And he succeeds.
Katznelson wants us to understand the New Deal as on par with the French Revolution in redefining the powers and objectives of a modern state—The New Deal saved capitalism from itself, and also saved liberal democracy, even while having to make compromises with illiberal forces, compromises that also went in to the redefinition of the state. We are still livi ...more
Katznelson defines the New Deal as the period bookended by the onset of the Great Depression and the beginning of the Roosevelt administration on the one side and the dawn of the Cold War and the end of the Truman ...more
This book traces the long and difficult path to creating a better America. It was a path marked with horrendous trade-offs — with Stalin, with racist southern politicians, and with backwards Republicans who lacked an understanding of the role of the state in a modern economy. It helped me understand how we arrived in our absurd political moment, but also what’s possible when we think beyond the narrow confines of dominant political norms.
Katznelson takes us through the story by theme: from what was going on in other places around the ...more