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The United States today cries out for a robust, self-respecting,intellectually sophisticated left, yet the very idea of a leftappears to have been discredited. In this brilliant new book, EliZaretsky rethinks the idea by examining three key moments inAmerican history: the Civil War, the New Deal and the range of NewLeft movements in the 1960s and after including the civil rightsmovement, the women's movement and gay liberation.In each period,he argues, the active involvement of the left - especially itscritical interaction with mainstream liberalism - provedindispensable. American liberalism, as represented by theDemocratic Party, is necessarily spineless and ineffective withouta left. Correspondingly, without a strong liberal center, the leftbecomes sectarian, authoritarian, and worse.
Written in an accessible way for the general reader and theundergraduate student, this book provides a fresh perspective onAmerican politics and political history. It has often been saidthat the idea of a left originated in the French Revolution and isdistinctively European; Zaretsky argues, by contrast, that Americahas always had a vibrant and powerful left. And he shows that inthose critical moments when the country returns to itself, it is onits left/liberal bases that it comes to feel most at home.