The Fall of Wisconsin:
The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics
in conversation with ANTHONY BROOKS
This event includes a book signing
July 12, 2018
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store, WBUR, and Mass Humanities welcome writer and musician DAN KAUFMAN for a discussion of his new book, The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics. He will be joined in conversation by ANTHONY BROOKS, senior political reporter for WBUR.
About The Fall of Wisconsin
For more than a century, Wisconsin has been known nationwide for its progressive ideas and government. It famously served as a "laboratory of democracy," a cradle of the labor and environmental movements, and birthplace of the Wisconsin Idea, which championed expertise in the service of the common good. But following a Republican sweep of the state’s government in 2010, Wisconsin’s political heritage was overturned, and the state went Republican for the first time in three decades in the 2016 presidential election, elevating Donald J. Trump to the presidency.
The Fall of Wisconsin is a deeply reported, searing account of how the state’s progressive tradition was undone and turned into a model for national conservatives bent on remaking the country. Dan Kaufman, a Wisconsin native who has been covering the story for several years, traces the history of progressivism that made Wisconsin so widely admired, from the work of celebrated politicians like Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette and Gaylord Nelson, to local traditions like Milwaukee’s “sewer socialism,” to the conservationist ideas of Aldo Leopold and the state’s Native American tribes. Kaufman reveals how the “divide-and-conquer” strategy of Governor Scott Walker and his allies pitted Wisconsin’s citizens against one another so powerful corporations and wealthy donors could effectively take control of state government. As a result, laws protecting voting rights, labor unions, the environment, and public education were rapidly dismantled.
Neither sentimental nor despairing, Kaufman also chronicles the remarkable efforts of citizens who are fighting to reclaim Wisconsin’s progressive legacy against tremendous odds: Chris Taylor, a Democratic assemblywoman exposing the national conservative infrastructure, Mike Wiggins, the head of a Chippewa tribe battling an out-of-state mining company, and Randy Bryce, the ironworker whose long-shot challenge to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has galvanized national resistance to Trump.
“Dan Kaufman, a native son, will take you deeper into this story than I would have thought possible. Tirelessly reported, full of heroes and their tormentors, it’s a devastating portrait of a beautiful, besieged state reeling into the Trump era.” —William Finnegan, bestselling author of Barbarian Days
“Dan Kaufman chronicles how his home state―the birthplace of progressivism, Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, and Earth Day―was transformed into a showcase for right-wing ideology. The Fall of Wisconsin is illuminating, unsettling, and profoundly relevant.” —Elizabeth Kolbert, bestselling author of The Sixth Extinction
“The Fall of Wisconsin shows that the most important story in American politics was hiding in plain sight―how the progressive bastion of the upper Midwest turned into Alabama-with-snow. With elegant ferocity, Dan Kaufman tells a story that is rooted in the soul of Wisconsin but relevant to the whole country as well.” —Jeffrey Toobin, bestselling author of American Heires
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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90.9 WBUR-FM is Boston’s NPR news station and the home of nationally syndicated programs, providing listeners with thorough coverage of local, national and international news from NPR, Public Radio International and the BBC, in addition to its own locally produced content. Learn more at wbur.org/.
Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.
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