The Strange Death of American Liberalism

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Yale University Press, 2001 - Political Science - 200 pages
In this provocative book, H. W. Brands confronts the vital question of why an ever-increasing number of Americans do not trust the federal government to improve their lives and to heal major social ills. How is it that government has come to be seen as the source of many of our problems, rather than the potential means of their solution? How has the word liberal become a term of abuse in American political discourse?

From the Revolution on, argues Brands, Americans have been chronically skeptical of their government. This book succinctly traces this skepticism, demonstrating that it is only during periods of war that Americans have set aside their distrust and looked to their government to defend them. The Cold War, Brands shows, created an extended--and historically anomalous--period of dependence, thereby allowing for the massive expansion of the American welfare state. Since the 1970s, and the devastating blow dealt to Cold War ideology by America's defeat in Vietnam, Americans have returned to their characteristic distrust of government. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Brands contends, the fate of American liberalism was sealed--and we continue to live with the consequences of its demise.

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The strange death of American liberalism

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Brands (Texas A&M) is a prolific and versatile historian who has written books about the Revolutionary era (The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin), the late 19th and early 20th ... Read full review

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About the author (2001)

H.W. Brands was born Henry William Brands in Oregon. He graduated from Stanford University in 1975 with a B.A. in history, and from Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon. He went on to earn his graduate degree in mathematics and history in Oregon and Texas. He taught at Vanderbilt University and Texas A&M University before he joined the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin. He acquired the title of Dickson Allen Anderson Centennial Professor of History at the U of Texas. He specializes in American History and politics, with books including Traitor to His Class, Andrew Jackson, The Age of Gold, the First American, and TR. Several of his books have been best sellers, including one recently published, The General vs. the President. Two of them - Traitor to His Class and The First American were finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He lectures often on historical and current events and he can be seen and heard on national television and radio programs.

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