Sean Wilentz

discusses

The Politicians and the Egalitarians:
The Hidden History of American Politics

This event includes a book signing

Date

Jun
1
Wednesday
June 1, 2016
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes Princeton University professor and acclaimed historian SEAN WILENTZ for a discussion of his latest book, The Politicians and the Egalitarians: The Hidden History of American Politics—a look at how  the commanding role party politics has played in America’s enduring struggle against economic inequality.

About The Politicians and the Egalitarians

“There are two keys to unlocking the secrets of American politics and American political history.” So begins The Politicians & the Egalitarians, Princeton historian Sean Wilentz’s bold new work of history.

First, America is built on an egalitarian tradition. At the nation’s founding, Americans believed that extremes of wealth and want would destroy their revolutionary experiment in republican government. Ever since, that idea has shaped national political conflict and scored major egalitarian victories—from the Civil War and Progressive eras to the New Deal and the Great Society—along the way.

Second, partisanship is a permanent fixture in America, and America is the better for it. Every major egalitarian victory in United States history has resulted neither from abandonment of partisan politics nor from social movement protests but from a convergence of protest and politics, and then sharp struggles led by principled and effective party politicians. There is little to be gained from the dream of a post-partisan world.

With these two insights Sean Wilentz offers a crystal-clear portrait of American history, told through politicians and egalitarians including Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, and W. E. B. Du Bois—a portrait that runs counter to current political and historical thinking. As he did with his acclaimed The Rise of American Democracy, Wilentz once again completely transforms our understanding of this nation’s political and moral character.

Praise

“Wilentz evinces a vast knowledge of the American past while exploring, in his unique way, the interplay between raw party politics and the ebb and flow of reform efforts. In offering his take on pivotal figures from Jefferson to Du Bois, Lincoln to LBJ, Wilentz challenges us to debate history and ideas in a way that honors the best of the democratic system he has written about so provocatively throughout his career. Even when I most disagree with him, his arguments are always vigorous and passionate, lively and engaging.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

“A shrewd and engaging assessment of the variable American tradition of egalitarianism, particularly as manifested in the political lives of Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, right up through Lyndon Johnson and his Great Society—scrupulously detailed, elegantly written, incisively argued, and effectively combative.” —Philip Roth

Sean Wilentz
Sean Wilentz

Sean Wilentz

Sean Wilentz is George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University. He is the author of numerous books on American history and politics, including The Rise of American Democracy, which won the Bancroft Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and The Politicians and the Egalitarians, chosen as Best History Book of the Year by Kirkus and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wilentz’s writings on American music have earned him two Grammy nominations and two Deems-Taylor-ASCAP awards.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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