The Cause

The Cause

The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101577134
  • 576 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


The definitive history of American postwar liberalism, told through the lens of those who brought it to life.

Liberalism stands proudly at the center of American politics and culture. Driven by passion for social justice, tempered by respect for the difficulty of change, liberals have struggled to end economic inequality, racial discrimination, and political repression. Liberals have fueled their cause with the promise of American life and visions of national greatness, seeking to transform the White House; the halls of Congress, the courts, the worlds of entertainment, law, media, and the course of public opinion. Bestselling author, journalist, and historian Eric Alterman, together with historian Kevin Mattson, traces the history of liberal ideals through the lives and struggles of fascinating personalities. The Cause tells the remarkable story of politicians, intellectuals, visionaries, activists, and public personalities battling for the heart and soul of the nation.

The first full-scale treatment of postwar liberalism, The Cause offers an epic saga driven by stories of grand aspirations, principled ambitions, tragic flaws, and the ironies of history of the people who fought for America to live up to the highest ideals of its history.


 “The story Alterman tells is . . . worth restating given the strenuous . . . campaign by conservatives to rewrite the entire history of liberalism. . . . Alterman works hard to correct the record.” — New York Times Book Review

“Alterman’s magnum opus… All aspects of liberalism are surveyed, from the culture of Hollywood movies to the civil rights movement to intellectual debates.… In this way, Alterman’s book stands as the definitive work on its subject.”  — San Francisco Chronicle

 “What a relief it is…to read Eric Alterman’s superb new book, THE CAUSE: The Fight for American Liberalism From Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama. [I]f your goal is to learn about, and understand, one of this country’s most potent political forces, this book belongs in your hands.”  — Boston Globe

“…an intellectual (and actual) history of liberalism that even [Lionel] Trilling would approve of…coherent and excellent….”  — Daily Beast

“…an impressive history, with profiles of leaders both famous and unfamiliar, and detailing legislative and cultural battles that highlight the advancement of the cause. Readers interested in liberal politics and sociopolitical history will most appreciate the authors’ extensive research.”  — Library Journal

“…an illuminating history of postwar politics, international relations, culture, and philosophy—all in one scrupulously researched volume.”  — Publishers Weekly
PRH Book Clubs Survey