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Richard Hofstadter's The Age of Reform

Richard HofstadterÆs The Age of Reform

In his book review on The Age of Reform, Alan Brinkley provides much more than a mere summary of the historianÆs book. He weaves the prevailing views of HofstadterÆs 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 HofstadterÆs 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 HofstadterÆs book in the context of both opposing and concurring contemporaries, Brinkley not only provides a useful summary of the bookÆs 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 HofstadterÆs views on populism and progressivism. Essentially, it is the view that HofstadterÆs treatment of populismùalthough much maligned by others and not perfectùwas still the best treatment of it yet seen. Populism, in particular, was one of HofstadterÆs ùand BrinkleyÆsùstrongest areas of interest in the book, and he saw it as suffering from a disconnect between ôthe real and perceived interests of the men and women he was describingö (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 ôan agrarian myth,ö 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 HofstadterÆs views on progressivism were better accepted by his contemporaries. Brinkley examines HofstadterÆs views...

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Richard Hofstadter's The Age of Reform. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:32, February 21, 2017, from