A Godly Hero by Michael Kazin
The Life of William Jennings Bryan

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Politician, evangelist, and reformer William Jennings Bryan was the most popular public speaker of his time. In this acclaimed biography–the first major reconsideration of Bryan’s life in forty years–award-winning historian Michael Kazin illuminates his astonishing career and the richly diverse and volatile landscape of religion and politics in which he rose to fame. Kazin vividly re-creates Bryan’s tremendous appeal, showing how he won a passionate following among both rural and urban Americans, who saw in him not only the practical vision of a reform politician but also the righteousness of a pastor. Bryan did more than anyone to transform the Democratic Party from a bulwark of laissez-faire to the citadel of liberalism we identify with Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1896, 1900, and 1908, Bryan was nominated for president, and though he fell short each time, his legacy–a subject of great debate after his death–remains monumental. This nuanced and brilliantly crafted portrait restores Bryan to an esteemed place in American history.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Michael Kazin

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MICHAEL KAZIN is professor of history at Georgetown University. The author of three previous books about American history-America Divided, The Populist Persuasion, and Barons of Labor-he is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, and The American Prospect and the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the Fulbright Scholar Program. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Published December 18, 2007 by Anchor. 374 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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(Bryan died six days later.) But Kazin also usefully contextualizes Bryan’s hostility toward the theory of evolution: In addition to believing that it “opened the door wide to immoral behavior,” he worried about the slippery slope from Darwinism to eugenics.

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Book Reporter

This portrayal, coupled with Bryan's standing in history as the only thrice-defeated major party presidential candidate, has seriously damaged Bryan's standing as a significant figure in American political life.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of A Godly Hero: The Life of Wil...

London Review of Books

A mob of divided, disgruntled Democrats packed the Chicago Coliseum in July 1896 as William Jennings Bryan rose to the platform and delivered a roaring speech – still the speech for part of the American left – about an economic chimera.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Matthew Price Christian Science Monitor 3.5 of 5 Stars "Kazin persuasively shows that Bryan’s real crusade in Tennessee was not against free inquiry (he never opposed altogether the teaching of evolution), but against the enormous condescension of scientists who knew what was best for ordina...

Aug 28 2007 | Read Full Review of A Godly Hero: The Life of Wil...


There was virtually no national coverage of this serial killer, despite the tragedy and carnage and despite the fact that indigenous women compose a small percentage of the population but a significant percentage of violent-crime victims.

Oct 05 2016 | Read Full Review of A Godly Hero: The Life of Wil...

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