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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly critical study of mainstreams in American politics
It's a while since I read this book, and my copy of it - which was a 50s Anchor paperback that must have been forty years old when I bought it used - has long since disintegrated, so I can't refer to it. But it's a much better book than the other reviewers would have us believe. Hofstadter reviews various figures in American political history and his central thesis is...
Published on 13 Sep 2010 by lexo1941

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprising
This seems like its going to be very dry and uninteresting. Luckily, Hofstadter really brings each of the presidents to life. If you are studying American history and find it hard to relate to the presidents, this is the book for you.
Published on 7 Nov 2003 by jankensan


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly critical study of mainstreams in American politics, 13 Sep 2010
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lexo1941 (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made it (Vintage) (Paperback)
It's a while since I read this book, and my copy of it - which was a 50s Anchor paperback that must have been forty years old when I bought it used - has long since disintegrated, so I can't refer to it. But it's a much better book than the other reviewers would have us believe. Hofstadter reviews various figures in American political history and his central thesis is that, for all the rhetoric that American politicians like to use concerning freedom and liberty and so on, when it comes to property rights, the general tendency among American politicians is absolutely in favour of protecting wealth and private property, and absolutely against any attempt to regulate the distribution of wealth in the direction of protecting the poor from exploitation by the rich, not to mention being opposed to any attempt to prevent the already rich from becoming still richer. In short, Hofstadter's analysis of the American political tradition shows that that tradition is, broadly speaking, on the right. Hofstadter is not really interested in popular movements, or organised labour, or the long tradition of the left in America, for the fairly sound reason that his book is about professional politicians and not about the broader map of American politics as a whole. It could be said that left-wing politics as such have never truly entered the 'American political tradition'; it wasn't so long ago that 'liberal' was one of the vilest terms of abuse that one American politician could hurl at another (I remember Michael Dukakis haplessly denying that he was a liberal - he wasn't much of one, but it was still disgusting that he felt the need to deny it), and if things have got a little more sane, it's only because the far-right of the American political mainstream has displayed itself again and again to be incompetent to hold power, most publicly in the second Bush administration. Right-wing commentators and politicans in the US claim, of course, that they are under constant attack from a massive liberal power bloc that somehow manages to be simultaneously absurd, feeble and intellectually empty and yet also menacing and immensely powerful; Hofstadter diagnosed this argument, too, as what he called the 'paranoid style in American politics'.

Hofstadter died 40 years ago, but his arguments are still sound today. His prose cuts through a lot of the sentimental guff talked about some of the major figures in American political history. I thoroughly recommend this book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting & in depth view of America's Past, 21 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made it (Vintage) (Paperback)
I am a high school US History AP student and for me this book has become an integral part of my study. It eloquently sets forth a variation of America's history that makes it ideal for filling in the gaps that our text leaves. This is an excellent book and a necessity for every US History Student.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprising, 7 Nov 2003
This seems like its going to be very dry and uninteresting. Luckily, Hofstadter really brings each of the presidents to life. If you are studying American history and find it hard to relate to the presidents, this is the book for you.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully analytial, 20 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made it (Vintage) (Paperback)
Richard Hofstadter creted a book that has become the foundation of much modern history. Many find his views biased, but these people themselves fail to see that Hofstadter has tried to dispell many of the myths that once surrounded these greats, and many people are to secure with these myths to release them.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars really informative, 20 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made it (Vintage) (Paperback)
It was pretty tedious to read, but there were many points well taken and it was overall a very good, informative book
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The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made it (Vintage)
The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made it (Vintage) by Richard Hofstadter (Paperback - 1 May 1989)
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