The Gifted Generation by David Goldfield
When Government Was Good

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Belief that federal government must work for all Americans eroded with Ronald Reagan and has reached a low point in Donald Trump and his supporters. Goldfield laments the cynicism that pervades politics...An American history that serves as a heartfelt plea for a revival of socially responsible leadership.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

A sweeping and path-breaking history of the post–World War II decades, during which an activist federal government guided the country toward the first real flowering of the American Dream.

In The Gifted Generation, historian David Goldfield examines the generation immediately after World War II and argues that the federal government was instrumental in the great economic, social, and environmental progress of the era. Following the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation, the returning vets and their children took the unprecedented economic growth and federal activism to new heights. This generation was led by presidents who believed in the commonwealth ideal: the belief that federal legislation, by encouraging individual opportunity, would result in the betterment of the entire nation. In the years after the war, these presidents created an outpouring of federal legislation that changed how and where people lived, their access to higher education, and their stewardship of the environment. They also spearheaded historic efforts to level the playing field for minorities, women and immigrants. But this dynamic did not last, and Goldfield shows how the shrinking of the federal government shut subsequent generations off from those gifts.

David Goldfield brings this unprecedented surge in American legislative and cultural history to life as he explores the presidencies of Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lyndon Baines Johnson. He brilliantly shows how the nation's leaders persevered to create the conditions for the most gifted generation in U.S. history.

 

About David Goldfield

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David Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is the author of many works and textbooks on Southern history, including Still Fighting the Civil War, Southern Histories, Black, White and Southern, and Promised Land.
 
Published November 14, 2017 by Bloomsbury USA. 537 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Gifted Generation
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Kirkus

Above average
on Aug 22 2017

Belief that federal government must work for all Americans eroded with Ronald Reagan and has reached a low point in Donald Trump and his supporters. Goldfield laments the cynicism that pervades politics...An American history that serves as a heartfelt plea for a revival of socially responsible leadership.

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Star Tribune

Below average
Reviewed by Glenn C. Altschuler on Dec 22 2017

To his credit, Goldfield presents data about the impact of many government programs, including college enrollments, the quality of the air we breathe and the number of black voters. However, “The Gifted Generation” does not provide a definitive answer to an important question...

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jeffrey Frank on Dec 12 2017

...one can only wonder why his editor didn’t stop him. Nonetheless, the book that Goldfield set out to write, and finally did write, makes its case.

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