The Populist Vision
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The Populist Vision

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Description

The Populist movement has been both dismissed as an irrational response of backward-looking farmers to modernity and romanticized as a resistance movement of tradition-based communities to modern, commercial society. Now, in a wide-ranging and provocative reassessment, based on a deep reading of archival sources, The Populist Vision argues the opposite-that the Populists understood themselves as, and in fact were, modern people, pursuing an alternative vision for modern America. Taking into account the leaders and the led, The Populist Vision uses a wide lens-focusing on the farmers, both black and white, men and women-but also looking at wage workers and bohemian urbanites. Ranging from Texas to the Dakotas, from Georgia to California, Charles Postel shows how farmer Populists strove to use the new innovations for their own ends. They sought scientific and technical knowledge, formed highly centralized organizations, launched large-scale cooperative businesses, and pressed for reforms on the model of the nation's most elaborate bureaucracy-the Postal Service. Hundreds of thousands of women joined the movement, too, seeking education, employment in schools and offices, and a more modern life. Miners, railroad workers, and other labor Populists joined with farmers to give impetus to the regulatory state. Activists from Chicago, San Francisco, and other new cities provided Populism with a dynamic urban dimension. The winner of a prestigious Bancroft Prize and the Organization of American Historian's Frederick Jackson Turner Award, this highly original account of the Populist movement is essential reading for anyone interested in the politics, society, and culture of modern America.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 27.94mm | 566.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 22 black and white halftone illustrations
  • 0195384717
  • 9780195384710
  • 1,644,916

Review quote

Excellent intellectual history of Populism.... The significance of Charles Postel's work lies in its national scope and its focus on the ideas and the writings of key leaders.... this well-written and deftly argued work.... an excellent book. This is the best intellectual history of Populism since the work of Norman Pollack. Postel's book will cause historians of the Gilded Age to rethink the Populist vision and blueprints for society. Scholars should read this stimulating, provocative, and exemplary study. * The Historian * It is rare that a book comes along with the power to redefine the parameters of a major historiographical debate.... This is the most important book on Populism in thirty years, and a brief review cannot hope to do it justice. Masterfully researched in an astonishingly broad array of primary and secondary sources, and written in a clear, compelling style, The Populist Vision propels its author into the first rank of American political historians. * Journal of American History * Many who have written about Populism will find their oxen being gored by Postel. This is a good thing, for his is a book well worth arguing with. Postel makes a compelling case for reconsidering parts of the major narratives of Populism and he offers fresh insights into the emergence of modern agribusiness as part of industrial America in parallel with the expansion of the national state.... His accomplishment will encourage future students of this complex subject to explore afresh the larger skein of which his set of threads is a very important part. * Robert C. McMath, Reviews in American History * A highly original contribution to the scholarship on late nineteenth-century reform movements. Rarely has any historian given us such a comprehensive and detailed view of the Populists, in all their rural, urban, and variegated complexity of thought.... This is an admirable, sophisticated and highly informative book, one to savor, to reflect upon, and to look forward to the discussions it will surely provoke. * Ronald P. Formisano, Georgia Historical Quarterly * A meticulously researched study.... * New York Times Book Review *show more

About Charles Postel

Charles Postel is Assistant Professor of History at California State University, Sacramento.show more

Table of contents

Introduction: Modern Times ; PART ONE: FARMERS ; 1. Push and Energy: Boosterism and Rural Reform ; 2. Knowledge and Power: Machinery of Modern Education ; 3. A Better Woman: Independence of Thought and Action ; 4. A Farmers' Trust: Cooperative Economies of Scale ; PART TWO: POPULISTS ; 5. Business Politics: State Models and Political Frameworks ; 6. Race Progress: Racial Ordering of American Life ; 7. Confederation: Labor, Urban, and Nonconformist Reform ; 8. Shrine of Science: Innovation in Populist Faith ; Conclusion: Populist Defeat and its Meaning ; Sourcesshow more

Rating details

112 ratings
3.59 out of 5 stars
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4 41% (46)
3 38% (42)
2 4% (5)
1 3% (3)
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