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Richard Hofstadter's The Age of Reform

Richard Hofstadter's The Age of Reform

In his book review on The Age of Reform, Alan Brinkley provides much more than a mere summary of the historian's book. He weaves the prevailing views of Hofstadter's contemporaries in and among the views expressed in the book to create a composite snapshot of historical perspective that enables the reader to see how Hofstadter's views relate to those of other historians of his era. Furthermore, Brinkley evaluates the views of both Hofstadter and his contemporaries and provides commentary on the relative value and accuracy of their opinions. By reviewing Hofstadter's book in the context of both opposing and concurring contemporaries, Brinkley not only provides a useful summary of the book's content but also positions it in its time to show how it served as a catalyst for other views and how it stands with relation to those views.

The main point of the book is centered on Hofstadter's views on populism and progressivism. Essentially, it is the view that Hofstadter's treatment of populismùalthough much maligned by others and not perfectùwas still the best treatment of it yet seen. Populism, in particular, was one of Hofstadter's ùand Brinkley'sùstrongest areas of interest in the book, and he saw it as suffering from a disconnect between "the real and perceived interests of the men and women he was describing" (Brinkley 465). His view on this topic is developed and contrasted with the opposing view of progressivism, as he examined these ideologies against each other. Hofstadter determined that Populist policies embraced by American farmers were predicated on "an agrarian myth," a mistaken view that they were outsiders to the realm of commerce and victims of the business world of the city (465). By contrast, progressivism had a more urban orientation, and Hofstadter's views on progressivism were better accepted by his contemporaries. Brinkley examines Hofstadter's views on populism and...

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Richard Hofstadter's The Age of Reform. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:04, December 07, 2016, from