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The People, No

A Brief History of Anti-Populism

Thomas Frank

Metropolitan Books

The People, No Download image

ISBN10: 1250220114
ISBN13: 9781250220110

Hardcover

320 Pages

$26.99

CA$36.50

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Rarely does a work of history contain startling implications for the present, but in The People, No Thomas Frank pulls off that explosive effect by showing us that everything we think we know about populism is wrong. Today “populism” is seen as a frightening thing, a term pundits use to describe the racist philosophy of Donald Trump and European extremists. But this is a mistake.

The real story of populism is an account of enlightenment and liberation; it is the story of American democracy itself, of its ever-widening promise of a decent life for all. Taking us from the tumultuous 1890s, when the radical left-wing Populist Party—the biggest mass movement in American history—fought Gilded Age plutocrats to the reformers’ great triumphs under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, Frank reminds us how much we owe to the populist ethos. Frank also shows that elitist groups have reliably detested populism, lashing out at working-class concerns. The anti-populist vituperations by the Washington centrists of today are only the latest expression.

Frank pummels the elites, revisits the movement’s provocative politics, and declares true populism to be the language of promise and optimism. The People, No is a ringing affirmation of a movement that, Frank shows us, is not the problem of our times, but the solution for what ails us.

Reviews

Praise for The People, No

"Frank describes an indigenous radical tradition that descends from Jefferson and Paine and stretches forward to Franklin Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. . . . compelling."The New York Times Book Review

"With his usual verve, Frank skewers the elite voices of condescension that vilify the egalitarian and democratic strivings of working people. In so doing, he offers a passionate defense of populism, which he reveals as a deep and wide political tradition that remains as essential as ever for the hopes of a more just and equitable society.”—Charles Postel, author of Equality: An American Dilemma, 1866–1896

"Populism is not just an old American way of doing politics, the author argues, but fundamentally a progressive one as well . . . convincing . . . an eminently readable contribution to political discourse."Kirkus Reviews

"Frank brilliantly places populism in the context of seminal historic events . . . His provocative conclusions, about elites and the people, turn common assumptions upside down—all the better for making readers think."Booklist (starred review)

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

1
What Was Populism?

Populism was the first of America’s great economic uprisings, a roar of outrage from people in the lower half of the country’s social order. It was a quintessential mass movement, in which rank-and-file...

About the author

Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank is the author of Listen, Liberal, Pity the Billionaire, The Wrecking Crew, and What's the Matter with Kansas? A former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Harper's, Frank is the founding editor of The Baffler and writes regularly for The Guardian. He lives outside Washington, D.C.

Wendy Edelberg

Thomas Frank

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