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How to lead the people and be one of them? What is a democratic intellectual to do? This longstanding dilemma for the progressive intellectual, how to bridge the world of educated opinion and that of the working masses, is the focus of Leon Fink's book, a social history of the progressive thinker caught in the middle of American political culture. In a series of portraits, Fink investigates the means and methods of intellectual activists in the first part of the 20th century - how they served, observed, and made their own history. In the stories of, among others, John R. Commons, Charles McCarthy, William English Walling, Anna Strunsky Walling, A. Philip Randolph, W. Jett Lauck, and Wil Lou Gray, he creates a panorama of reform of unusual power. Issues as broad as the cult of leadership and as specific as the Wisconsin school of labour history lead us into the heart of the dilemma of the progressive intellectual in our age. The problem, as Fink describes it, is twofold: could people prevail in a land of burgeoning capitalism and concentrated power? And should the people prevail? This book shows us socialists and progressives and, later, new dealers grappling with these questions as they tried to redress the new inequities of their day and as they confronted the immense frustrations of moving the masses. Fink's depiction of intellectuals' labours in the face of capitalist democracy's challenges, dramatizes a time in our past and at the same time speaks eloquently to our own.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674713901
ISBN-10: 0674713907
Format: Paperback
(235mm x 155mm x 22mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 8-Oct-1999
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Leon Fink

Leon Fink is Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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