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Progressive Era Politics Books

Thomas Bell, Out of This Furnace (1941)

This fictional account of three generations of Slovak immigrant workers in the steel mills of Braddock, Pennsylvania is based on the actual life experiences of author Thomas Bell (originally Belejcak). It is a vivid portrait of their lives amidst the rapid industrialization of late-nineteenth and twentieth-century America.

George Mowry, The Era of Theodore Roosevelt (1958)

Mowry was one of the first historians to challenge the glowing consensus on Progressivism (crafted by many Progressive historians) as a grass roots movement against special interests. He identified some of the elitism behind certain Progressive groups, and used this background to mount an explanation of their motives.

Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform (1955)

Hofstadter, a brilliant synthesis historian who convincingly weaves together several secondary studies into compelling arguments, followed in Mowry's path and suggested psychological explanations for the Progressive movement. He attributed the middle-class support for reform to a widespread sense of status anxiety amidst the social upheaval of the industrial age.

Gabriel Kolko, The Triumph of Conservatism (1963)

Kolko offered a new interpretation of Progressivism which focused on the manner in which the movement was compromised or even co-opted by business interests, rather than the previous discussions of who constituted Progressives and what motivated them.

R. H. Wiebe, The Search for Order (1967)

Wiebe struck a more moderate position between the old Progressive historians and the controversial revisions of Hofstadter and Mowry. He argued that middle-class reformers sought to impose order on a society they felt had become fragmented by rapid growth and enormous change.

Alan Dawley, Struggles for Justice: Social Responsibility and the Liberal State (1991)

Dawley offers a comprehensive synthesis of Progressive history to date, and makes a compelling case for the broader historical significance of the period.

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