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The Struggle for America's Promise

Equal Opportunity at the Dawn of Corporate Capital
Narrated by: Janina Edwards
Length: 8 hrs and 40 mins
Categories: History, American
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

In The Struggle for America's Promise, Claire Goldstene seeks to untangle one of the enduring ideals in American history, that of economic opportunity. She explores the varied discourses about its meaning during the upheavals and corporate consolidations of the Gilded Age. Some proponents of equal opportunity seek to promote upward financial mobility by permitting more people to participate in the economic sphere thereby rewarding merit over inherited wealth. Others use opportunity as a mechanism to maintain economic inequality. This tension, embedded with the idea of equal opportunity itself and continually reaffirmed by immigrant populations, animated social dissent among urban workers while simultaneously serving efforts by business elites to counter such dissent.

Goldstene uses a biographical approach to focus on key figures along a spectrum of political belief as they struggled to reconcile the inherent contradictions of equal opportunity. The Struggle for America's Promise includes such figures as Booker T. Washington, Samuel Gompers, Edward Bellamy, and Emma Goldman, who were more willing to step beyond the boundaries of the discourse about opportunity and question economic competition itself.

The book is published by the University Press of Mississippi.

©2014 University Press of Mississippi (P)2014 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Set in the Gilded Age, an era when the contradictions in the claims about equal opportunity were becoming impossible to ignore, The Struggle for America's Promise illuminates the ways in which a range of public figures responded by engaging, criticizing, and re-working the notion of equal opportunity. This book should become required reading for every history student in America." (Barbara Weinstein, New York University)

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