The Cause by Eric Alterman


5 Critic Reviews

Thorough and thoughtful, but with dense scholarly foliage that needs pruning.


The definitive history of American postwar liberalism, told through the lens of those who brought it to life.

Liberalism stands proudly at the center of American politics and culture. Driven by passion for social justice, tempered by respect for the difficulty of change, liberals have struggled to end economic inequality, racial discrimination, and political repression. Liberals have fueled their cause with the promise of American life and visions of national greatness, seeking to transform the White House; the halls of Congress, the courts, the worlds of entertainment, law, media, and the course of public opinion. Bestselling author, journalist, and historian Eric Alterman, together with historian Kevin Mattson, traces the history of liberal ideals through the lives and struggles of fascinating personalities. The Cause tells the remarkable story of politicians, intellectuals, visionaries, activists, and public personalities battling for the heart and soul of the nation.

The first full-scale treatment of postwar liberalism, The Cause offers an epic saga driven by stories of grand aspirations, principled ambitions, tragic flaws, and the ironies of history of the people who fought for America to live up to the highest ideals of its history.


About Eric Alterman

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ERIC ALTERMAN is a bestselling author and Distinguished Professor of English and Journalism at Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate School of Journalism; a columnist for The Nation, The Forward, and The Daily Beast; and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, the Nation Institute, and the World Policy Institute. He lives in New York City.KEVIN MATTSON is the Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he lives.
Published April 12, 2012 by Penguin Books. 576 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Cause
All: 5 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 3


Below average
Feb 15 2012

Thorough and thoughtful, but with dense scholarly foliage that needs pruning.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Jeff Shesol on May 18 2012

Without proposing an alternative path, Alterman leaves liberals in a familiar dead end. This, regrettably, is the sort of peremptory judgment that holds liberalism back...

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San Francisco Chronicle

Reviewed by Jordan Michael Smith on May 11 2012

What makes "The Cause" so valuable is its combination of detail and empathy.

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Reviewed by Mickey Edwards on Apr 22 2012

What a relief it is, then, to read Eric Alterman’s superb new book, “The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism From Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama.”

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Yale Alumni Magazine

Below average
Reviewed by Alyssa Rosenberg

The Cause shares a weakness with the movement it chronicles. In trying to be many things to many people, the book, like the cause itself, struggles to maintain a consistent vision and a cogent line of reasoning.

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