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The Future of Liberalism

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  86 ratings  ·  14 reviews
A compelling and deeply felt exploration and defense of liberalism: what it actually is, why it is relevant today, and how it can help our society chart a forward course.

The Future of Liberalism represents the culmination of four decades of thinking and writing about contemporary politics by Alan Wolfe, one of America’s leading scholars, hailed by one critic as “one of
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2009)
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Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, politics
A good summary on liberalism, but do not touch much about the social economic precondition of our time.
Apr 28, 2010 rated it liked it
More than anything else, this book is a primer in the truest sense - Wolfe touches on just about every significant theorist in the canon but can’t spend much time with any of them, so you’re left primed to do the more important reading on the original sources on your own time. In this, The Future of Liberalism doesn’t wander far from any number of basic polisci overviews. The only difference is that Wolfe is trying for popular topicality and a wide audience, so he can’t leave off at merely ...more
Feb 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-book-a-week
This book absolutely took me forever to get through, but it was totally worth it. It's really dense and academic and really written more for political philosophers, but, for the parts I could stay with it at least, I still really enjoyed it.

Wolfe sets out to define what is really meant by "Liberalism," and then to defend it, arguing that Liberalism is, although imperfect, still superior to any other political theory or philosophy of governance you can think to mention (conservatism, nationalism,
Nov 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
A great example of one moderate, reasonable liberal's efforts to wrestle with the tension between classical and modern liberalism. While AW's attempt to graft the classical onto the modern is admirable, it ultimately fails. Liberalism as defined by AW is unsatisfyingly overbroad in scope: in his struggle to steer a coherent middle path between what he sees as "the left" and "the right," his targets are depicted in such a weak and sometimes condescending light that the result is in many respects ...more
Ldrutman Drutman
Jun 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book would better be called liberalism and its critics, except that's already been taken as a title. What Wolfe does here is defendliberalism from critics on both left and right, using various critiques to bolster the foundation of liberalism. Wolfe's liberalism is in many ways an odorless, colorless substance, a procedural bedrock that we take for granted. It's the idea of equal opportunity, of freedom of speech, of a political process that's open to everyone. It's the idea of civilization ...more
Joseph Gravellese
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Be aware, going into it, that it's extremely academic, so it's not exactly what I would call leisure reading or something to take on the train with you. It ended up taking me about a year to get through after various stops and starts. But it's worth the mental investment - this is about as complete and clear a picture that can be painted of liberalism and all its branches, from past to present. And as someone who would describe himself as a Wolfe Liberal, I find this book to be infused with a ...more
Mark Grannis
Feb 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
Wolfe skips around the last three centuries and strings together snippets of various books (some classics, and some fairly obscure) to create a picture of what he considers liberalism. I think that no liberal who wrote prior to 1930 would recognize his ideas in this book. Wolfe is trying to lay an intellectual foundation for socialist welfare liberalism, the bastard child of the prosperity that true liberalism created. Because welfare liberalism is self-contradictory in many ways, the result ...more
Marvin Soroos
This is an excellent, challenging, but readible, book that explores in some depth the history of liberal thinking back to the Enlightment, while offering a useful overview of the various streams of liberal thought in contemporary America and why it is important that liberalism prevail in the America's contentious and polarized political culture. I strongly recommend it for those with in interest in political philosophy and its application to contemporary politics in the United States.
Paul Heidebrecht
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
At last someone stands up to defend liberalism and honor its tradition and its contribution to our political life. Of particular note is Wolfe's determination to respect and include religion and religious people in the debate. In the end, Wolfe really challenges other liberals to live up to their heritage.
Oct 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly researched, eloquently written, and argued quite reasonably, Wolfe has almost convinced me that I am a liberal!

This is definitely a must-read, no matter what your political bent.
Mar 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
This sucked. Didn't finish it.
Mar 26, 2009 rated it liked it
interesting philosophy, however the book dealt 70% with the HISTORY of liberalism. still, overall interesting background to our policy and cultural wars.
Joe Miller
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
There is actually some pretty good groundwork in here for a liberal/libertarian fusion -- despite what Wolfe himself seems to think about libertarians.
Kathleen O'Neal
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this book during my last year as an undergraduate at FSU. While I enjoyed it, very little about it stands out to me in retrospect which is probably telling.
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The Future of Liberalism: Interview with Alan Wolfe 1 10 Jun 23, 2009 12:21PM  

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