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The Democratic Experiment:
New Directions in American Political History
Edited by Meg Jacobs, William J. Novak, & Julian E. Zelizer

Paperback | 2003 | $39.95 | £32.95 | ISBN: 9780691113777
464 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400825820 |
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In a series of fascinating essays that explore topics in American politics from the nation's founding to the present day , The Democratic Experiment opens up exciting new avenues for historical research while offering bold claims about the tensions that have animated American public life. Revealing the fierce struggles that have taken place over the role of the federal government and the character of representative democracy, the authors trace the contested and dynamic evolution of the national polity.

The contributors, who represent the leading new voices in the revitalized field of American political history, offer original interpretations of the nation's political past by blending methodological insights from the new institutionalism in the social sciences and studies of political culture. They tackle topics as wide-ranging as the role of personal character of political elites in the Early Republic, to the importance of courts in building a modern regulatory state, to the centrality of local political institutions in the late twentieth century. Placing these essays side by side encourages the asking of new questions about the forces that have shaped American politics over time. An unparalleled example of the new political history in action, this book will be vastly influential in the field.

In addition to the editors, the contributors are Brian Balogh, Sven Beckert, Rebecca Edwards, Joanne B. Freeman, Richard R. John, Ira Katznelson, James T. Kloppenberg, Matthew D. Lassiter, Thomas J. Sugrue, Michael Vorenberg, and Michael Willrich.


"The present expansiveness and flexibility of political history are well represented in this collection of essays. The [book] should be quite useful in graduate seminars both general and topical."--Ronald P. Formisano, Journal of American History


"On rare occasions, an anthology comes along that reshapes scholarship in an entire field. The Democratic Experiment shows how to join culture and class, elections and the growth of the state, taxes and political theory into a fresh, unromantic understanding of power in the public sphere. With this splendid volume, a new political history has finally come of age."--Michael Kazin, author of The Populist Persuasion: An American History

"Political history is back. In a whirlwind of pent-up energy, this volume announces that questions about governmental capacity, suffrage and citizenship, sedition, constitutional amendment, court reform, inflation and consumerism, interest group electioneering, local government experimentation, antitax and antibussing revolts, the role of liberalism, and the partisan politics of family values are (and must be) on the agenda of historians. Its long-awaited return from the desert finds it better and stronger, more nuanced and inclusive, than before its exile. Readers will rejoice."--Elizabeth Sanders, author of Roots of Reform: Farmers, Workers, and the American State 1887-1917

"Those who have wondered what the future holds for American political history need wonder no more. In form and exposition, in theory and practice, The Democratic Experiment gives all the notice one could want of the exciting new directions that the genre is taking, and introduces the scholars who are leading its renewal."--Christopher Tomlins, American Bar Foundation, Chicago

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