Share this

Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time, Ira Katznelson

Reviewed by James A. Morone



With World War II raging, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved to guarantee suffrage for 10 million Americans soldiers. According to conventional wisdom, opposition would have been “political suicide.” Scholars later read the measure as a war-inspired, all-American expansion of the vote. Ira Katznelson digs deeper—as he does again and again in Fear Itself—and recovers the lost history. Soldier voting threatened a tiny crack into Southern white supremacy. In two congressional sessions, seething with controversy, the Northern Democrats abetted their Southern colleagues (in order to keep the party unified). When the Northerners finally wobbled, Republicans pitched in to aid the Southerners. In the end, Congress gutted the bill, humiliated the Roosevelt administration, and offered an early intimation of the antigovernment, race-inflected coalition that is so familiar today. Less than a decade later, the United States was at war again. The director of the Central Intelligence Agency declared that the atom bomb should be deployed before Moscow could fully develop its arsenal. President Harry S. Truman dispatched atomic weapons to the Pacific while a handful of men secretly discussed unleashing Armageddon.

Katznelson’s extraordinary book—broad, deep, powerful, and moving—sweeps these two moments into the same histori

To continue reading, see options above.

More by This Author

The Conscience of a Liberal, Paul Krugman Reviewed by James A. Morone

Diminished Democracy: From Membership to Management in American Civic Life, Theda Skocpol Reviewed by James A. Morone

American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword, Seymour Martin Lipset Reviewed by James A. Morone

Government is Good: Citizenship, Participation and Power, Joseph Freeman Reviewed by James A. Morone

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

Editor’s spotlight

North Korea and the West

The Debate over North Korea


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

New APS Book

Continuing Issues in U.S. National Security Policy   CONTINUING ISSUES IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS