David Greenberg

David Greenberg, a professor of journalism and media studies and of history at Rutgers University, is the author of Nixon's Shadow and Calvin Coolidge.

Recent Articles

Red Parallels

The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism by Haynes Johnson ( Harcourt, 624 pages, $26.00 ) A major threat to the United States suddenly seizes national attention. Alongside some levelheaded responses, many public figures -- motivated by fear, displaced resentment, or opportunism -- magnify and exploit the menace in ugly ways. Pandering to an angry, chauvinistic populism, they brand opponents, especially liberals, as unmanly, naive, or traitorous. They scorn civil liberties as luxuries in a national crisis. Meanwhile, security drills and government advisories, designed to help citizens protect themselves, re-instill anxiety whenever relaxation promises to return. The news media, for their part, squirm under political pressure, with reporters taking refuge in a warped definition of “balance” that often gives slander or propaganda the same weight as the truth. So it was during the 1950s, and so it is today. Yet as the longtime Washington journalist Haynes Johnson notes in The Age of...

Only Yesterday

More Equal Than Others: America From Nixon to the New Century by Godfrey Hodgson ( Princeton University Press, 379 pages, $29.95 ) Restless Giant: The United States From Watergate to Bush v. Gore by James T. Patterson ( Oxford University Press, 448 pages, $35.00 ) Anyone wishing to understand the United States in the three decades after World War II would do well to start with two books: America in Our Time: From World War II to Nixon -- What Happened and Why (1976), by the veteran British journalist Godfrey Hodgson, and Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 (1996), by the historian James T. Patterson of Brown University. Both authors have now written sequels taking the story up to 2000, and the two pairs of books help to make sense not only of America's recent past but also of what continues to trouble us. Though not at odds with each other, the earlier two books are quite different. Hodgson, a longtime observer of the American scene, broke ground 30 years ago by offering...

Up With Rags

A Matter of Opinion by Victor S. Navasky ( Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 464 pages, $27.00 ) When I was in college and a member of my university's Liberal Party, a common question posed to candidates for party office was a dichotomy: “ New Republic or Nation ?” ( The American Prospect did not yet exist.) Most people didn't hesitate. They picked The New Republic . The preference wasn't really ideological; we all considered ourselves liberals. In those days The New Republic , alternately edited by Michael Kinsley and Hendrik Hertzberg, brimmed with a sly wit, an inside-Washington savvy far rarer then than it is today, and brainy arguments that challenged liberal orthodoxy. The intelligence jumped off the page. Indeed, after college, when I joined the magazine as a “reporter-researcher” (read: intern), attending editorial meetings felt like what it must have been to sit in at the Algonquin Round Table in the 1920s. Reading The Nation , in contrast, felt dutiful and annoying. The tone was...

Liberals, Think Big

Return to Greatness: How America Lost Its Sense of Purpose and What It Needs to Do to Recover It by Alan Wolfe ( Princeton University Press, 224 pages, $22.95 ) In recent years, the sociologist Alan Wolfe has emerged as one of America's most astute thinkers about religion, politics, and society. Unlike so many generalists who aspire to the label “public intellectual,” Wolfe's ideas have roots in his own continuing academic research; where clever controversialists like David Brooks and Christopher Hitchens wear poorly, as their endless tossing off of opinions lays bare a core shallowness, Wolfe draws from a deeper well, and his books and essays are the richer for it. One of Wolfe's most important crossover works, One Nation, After All , appeared in 1998 amid the so-called culture wars. Based on a survey of middle-class Americans' views on affirmative action, immigration, and other divisive topics, One Nation held that beneath their surface differences, Americans shared common values...

Action Liberalism

Eugene McCarthy: The Rise and Fall of Postwar American Liberalism by Dominic Sandbrook ( Knopf, 416 pages, $25.95 ) The Fall of the House of Roosevelt: Brokers of Ideas and Power from FDR to LBJ by Michael Janeway ( Columbia University Press, 284 pages, $27.50 ) The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment by Geoffrey Kabaservice ( Henry Holt & Co., 592 pages, $30.00 ) Though it ended in defeat, John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid may someday be hailed as the moment when liberalism began to rediscover its vigor and voice. In the course of a year, the Democrats' aloof, tentative standard-bearer matured into a proud warrior. Liberal regulars trekked en masse to swing states to register voters, while lefty activists muffled qualms about their party's interventionism. Millions of Bush-bashing tracts passed through readers' hands, millions of checkbooks opened, and millions of first-time voters poked chads in the hope of ousting the president...

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