Chapter

The New American Political Tradition

in Richard Hofstadter

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780226076409
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226076379 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226076379.003.0003
The New American Political Tradition

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This chapter looks at Richard Hofstadter's book The American Political Tradition: And the Men Who Made It. Richard Hofstadter's return to New York in the autumn of 1946 prefaced his greatest achievement as a historian. On the strength of the book's stunning popular success, Hofstadter succeeded Charles Beard as the most influential and intellectually significant American historian of his time. The book offered critical and provocative essays about notable public figures, but its underlying themes were responsive to more contemporary concerns. In an era clouded by the Taft-Hartley Act, loyalty oaths, blacklists, and McCarthyism, The American Political Tradition ran against the conservative counterrevolution to the New Deal. Rather than celebrate an unusually successful and conservative continuity in national life, The American Political Tradition drew attention to the rather sharp economic, political, and cultural differences that divided Hoover's America from FDR's. The American Political Tradition is a striking example of revisionist history in the best sense. Rather than succumb to the temptation to render crippling judgments of the nation's heroes, it dissected the politicians without destroying them.

Keywords: The American Political Tradition; Charles Beard; McCarthyism; Hoover's America; judgment; revisionist

Chapter.  8797 words. 

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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