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The Age of ReformThis book is a landmark in American political thought It examines the passion for progress and reform that colored the ent. I first read Richard Hofstadter as a graduate student in classes where we mostly did what we could to poke holes in his colorful sweeping histories But I return to Hofstadter because while his scholarship has never gone away he is undoubtedly deserving of a moment of reconsideration in the current political climate Hofstadter differed from his mid century contemporaries in that he emphasized an anti intellectual strain in the frontier mentality of America and in this volume of the anti urban anti immigrant nativist Protestant ethos in populist movements a century ago In short Hofstadter may not have raised an eyebrow at the Tea Party movement or the rise of Trump At the very least he would have recognized it The Age of Reform focuses on two periods in American history the Populist era 1890s and the Progressive era 1900 1914 Historians have a positive view of many of the reforms of that period since it ushered in substantial democratic reforms including direct election of Senators the initiative and referendum secret ballots While Hofstadter acknowledges the positive side of those and other reforms his nuanced spin attaches the mentality of those developments to a nostalgia for the past an effort to restore a type of economic individualism and political democracy that was believed to have existed in earlier America destroyed by industrialization and political machines There was a need to bring back a kind of morality and civic purity that was also believed to have been lost Hofstadter's intellectual contribution it seems was the emphasis on this myth of the self made rural man The American mind was raised upon a sentimental attachment to rural living and upon a series of notions about rural people and rural life that I have chosen to designate as the agrarian myth Its hero was the yeoman farmer its central conception the notion that he is the ideal man and the ideal citizen Much is said in our political discussions about the big city machines and their role in politics It is testimony to the grip of our agrarian traditions that relatively little attention is paid by the public to the exorbitant power of rural blocsIn short Hofstadter's focus here is on that rural bloc and what makes this book an interesting contemporary read is that the fault lines in American politics a century later are similarly pronouncedHofstadter is not terribly flattering of Americans' views on race The conspiratorial theory and the associated Anglophobic and Judophobic feelings were part of a larger complex of fear and suspicion of the stranger that haunted and still tragically haunts the nativist American mind Everyone remote and alien was distrusted and hated – even Americans if they happened to be city peopleSimilarly Hofstadter on culture To the rural migrant raised in respectable uietude and the high toned moral imperatives of evangelical Protestantism the city seemed not merely a new social form or way of life but a strange threat to civilization itself The city was symbolized as the home of loan sharks dandies fops and aristocrats with European ideas who despised farmers as hayseeds Whereas a century ago the American farmer was inclined to concentrate his suspicion of the city upon the wealthy and aristocratic he now tends and to look upon the idleness of the unemployed and the tactics of industrial unions as the most prominent symbols of urban corruptionHofstadter on the media What was new in muckraking in the Progressive era was neither its ideas nor its existence but its reach – its nationwide character and its capacity to draw nationwide attention the presence of mass muckraking media with national circulations It was on jingoist issues that the Populist and Bryanite sections of the country with the aid of the yellow press and many political leaders achieved that rapport with the masses When conspiracies do not exist it is necessary for those who think in this fashion to invent themHofstadter also writes extensively about opposition to political machines and those that tangibly benefited in such a way that jibes with today's opposition to welfare programsI hate to draw too strong of a parallel but I really picked this book expecting to find similarities between his depiction of turn of the century populist attitudes and contemporary analyses of Republican voters And they were not too hard to findHofstadter is taken to task by contemporary scholars for being overblown but the depth of this volume is impressive The book was popular enough to earn him a Pulitzer Hofstadter himself came from a household of immigrants and he was a member of that east coast class of intellectual elites He was both Jewish and urban as well and he was writing this book in response to a society and a profession that would have been biased against this particular spin

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Read ½ The Age of Reform 107 ë [Download] ➻ The Age of Reform By Richard Hofstadter – This book is a landmark in American political thought It examines the passion for progress and reform that colored the entire period from 1890 to 1940 with startling and stimulating results it searche This book is a landmark in American pThe myths and dreams in which they believed and the realities with which they had to compromiseWinner of the Pulitzer Pri. What a fantastic re read Hofstadter’s take on both the populists and progressives is wildly out of fashion but the power and clarity of his liberal vision of a proper democratic politics remains undimmed

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Ire period from to with startling and stimulating results it searches out the moral and emotional motives of the reformers. I have read the many debunkings of this cherry picked history before engaging with the work itself Hofstadter doesn't do much in here to recover from what other scholars have pointed out as major flaws in his history but there is still so much in here to learn He is an excellent writer and I think his teasing out of the agrarian myth is still useful and very valid I think it still shapes our policies in weird ways This book made me wonder what Hofstadter's view of Trumpian politics would be seems like he would denounce it like he did the sham nativist populists of earlier eras and would feel vindicated