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Forrest J. Wright

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  • The Revolution of ’28

  • Al Smith, American Progressivism, and the Coming of the New Deal
  • By: Robert Chiles
  • Narrated by: Peter Lerman
  • Length: 11 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

The Revolution of ’28 explores the career of New York governor and 1928 Democratic presidential nominee Alfred E. Smith. Robert Chiles peers into Smith’s work and uncovers a distinctive strain of American progressivism that resonated among urban, ethnic, working-class Americans in the early 20th century. The book charts the rise of that idiomatic progressivism during Smith’s early years as a state legislator through his time as governor of the Empire State in the 1920s, before proceeding to a revisionist narrative of the 1928 presidential campaign.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Al Smith paved the way for FDR

  • By Chester on 10-27-18

The Book That Reminds Democrats of Their Roots

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-19-18

After the shellacking the Democrats and progressives took in the 2016 election, they managed to retake the House of Representatives this November. Now they are arguing about whether Nancy Pelosi should retain her leadership role and disagreeing about what Democrats and progressives stand for. This book, The Revolution of 28, takes the reader back to the roots of progressivism in the last century. It was born out of urban working-class beliefs about pluralism (big tent), excessive income inequality, labor safety, minimum wage, and lack of positions of power for immigrants, women, Catholics, and the poor. In the early 1900s that progressivism was embodied in the 1928 Democratic candidate for President, Alfred E. Smith. The book follows his fascinating journey from an operative in the corrupt Tammany Hall political organization, later embracing the progressive agenda of his day, and becoming the beloved, three-term Governor of New York. He lost to Herbert Hover in the 1928 Presidential election, but the legislation he championed as Governor of New York later provided a blueprint for New Deal legislation under Franklin D. Roosevelt. The counter-point of progressivism as an ideal and progressivism as played out by a flesh and blood politician brings this story to life.

So, Democrats (and fair-minded Republicans), unsure about what progressivism stands for, should read and ponder Robert Chiles excellent book. In some ways, upper-middle-class Democrats are pulling the party away from its roots with their concerns about mortgage interest deductions and forgiveness of student debt. The narration by Peter Lerman is superb. You will not miss a word.

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