The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism

Metropolitan. Jun. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781250220110. $26.99. POL SCI
Historian and political analyst Frank (What’s the Matter with Kansas??) provides a sprightly crafted survey of populist philosophy over the past century as it contends with more established political forces that have considered its ideas to be backwards and undemocratic. Frank begins with a history of the left-wing People’s Party that came to prominence in the late 19th century, and he is not shy in voicing his firm opinion that the beliefs of the common man are often much more valuable than those of the elite, who often dominated political conversation. According to Frank, the solution to our current political ills and polarization lies most securely with giving everyday people a voice and a place to be heard. He considers populism to be an expression of promise and optimism, and urges readers to reconsider the meaning of populism as well as how it has been used to describe the rise of Donald Trump along with leaders in European countries.
VERDICT A valuable history of an important political tradition, and what it means for the future.
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