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The Mythical Man

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 November 2008

David Montgomery
Yale University


Jefferson Cowie and Nick Salvatore have offered us two distinct arguments, one persuasive, the other anything but. There is much to be said for their proposition that the political coalitions that instituted New Deal reforms, far from being the historic culmination of an inexorable march from laissez-faire to the welfare state, were fragile and limited from the start and crumbled beyond the possibility of retrieval after 1970. Much more dubious is their contention that the basic explanation of both the limits and the defeat of the New Deal is to be found in a political culture of individualism, which they claim has circumscribed the political life of the United States from the nation's founding to the present.

Scholarly Controversy: Rethinking the Place of the New Deal in American History
Copyright © International Labor and Working-Class History, Inc. 2008

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