What It Took To Win: A History of the Democratic Party

Farrar. Mar. 2022. 416p. ISBN 9780374200237. $35. POL SCI
Preeminent historian Kazin (American Dreamers) draws upon decades of experience analyzing American labor, left, and populist struggles in this stylistically exemplary review of what he deems the world’s oldest continuing mass political party. Kazin uses the theme of “moral capitalism,” for which he credits Lizabeth Cohen—an ideology of achieving the economic goals of prosperity and security for the greatest number of people, fostered by regulated markets. The Democratic Party evolved from a propertied, white male faction to an assemblage of increasingly diverse interest groups; Kazin argues that the Democrats win at the presidential level (which is his primary focus) when they successfully articulate and implement this ideal vision. Too long on the wrong side of the fight for civil rights (for women and then for Black Americans), the party has worked to learn from history, Kazin posits. Scholarly and general readers should note that this book is intentionally not a complete history of the Democratic Party but only of its election results; it’s also more focused on nationwide Democratic Party leaders than on lesser-known or anonymous members of social movements.
VERDICT : This book will please Kazin’s enthusiasts and win favor among new readers previously bereft of his reality-grounded ruminations.
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