Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time

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Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
6.4 X 9.4 X 2.0 inches | 2.45 pounds

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About the Author

Ira Katznelson is Columbia University's Interim Provost, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, and Deputy Director of Columbia World Projects. Having served as president of the American Political Science Association, he is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is also the author of When Affirmative Action Was White and Fear Itself, winner of the Bancroft Prize in History (2014).


A wholly new approach to the New Deal takes history we thought we knew and makes it even richer and more complex. In this deeply erudite, beautifully written history, Katznelson... adopts an expansive view of the New Deal, extending it to the end of the Truman administration.
A powerful argument, swept along by Katznelson's robust prose and the imposing scholarship that lies behind it.--Kevin Boyle
Positing that the New Deal preserved liberal democracy, but at the expense of compromises with illiberal forces, Katznelson's hefty history weighs other historians' interpretations of the New Deal as it knowledgeably advances its own.
Engrossing... It is an exhilarating pleasure to lose yourself in this old-fashioned example of original historical scholarship. Fear Itself is a sprawling, ambitious book that offers illuminating insights on nearly every page. Among Katznelson's gifts is the one most valuable to readers and most in danger of extinction in the American academy: He writes clear, energetic prose without a whiff of academic jargon or pretension... Entertaining and enlightening.--Louis Menand
Fear Itself is a monumental history of the New Deal's greatest paradox, its connections with the Jim Crow South. Combining historical nuance with his clear eye for the big picture, Ira Katznelson contributes one of the most trenchant accounts yet of American liberalism at the height of its power in the 1930s and 1940s--a book of major importance in understanding our own political distempers and opportunities.--Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln
Fear Itself deeply reconceptualizes the New Deal and raises countless provocative questions.--David Kennedy, author of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945
Fear Itself is a provocative look at how modern America--created three-quarters of a century ago by the very Southern barons who were so important a part of the New Deal --was shaped. We think of history as a settled thing, tucked safely in a faraway past. This book is a reminder of how very surprising it can be.--David Shribman