Michael Kazin

Michael Kazin is the author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan and other books. He teaches history at Georgetown University.

Recent Articles

State of the Debate: The Other American Dilemma

Anthony Lukas's last book is a powerful tale of what used to be "class warfare" in America -- and a lesson about why so many people have had a hard time telling that story.

WORK DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY J. Anthony Lukas, Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America (Simon & Schuster, 1997). A couple of hundred pages into the rich and sprawling narrative of Big Trouble , Anthony Lukas quotes an Irish-born union president named Ed Boyce who, one day in 1902, was moved to lay down the facts of life for his members: "There are only two classes of people in the world," Boyce told a convention of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM), "One is composed of the men and women who produce all; the other is composed of men and women who produce nothing, but live in luxury upon the wealth produced by others." That statement evokes much of the meaning and drama Lukas wants to convey. The "big trouble" of his title stemmed from a history of class violence in the silver mines and mining towns of the intermountain West. The drama began in Caldwell, Idaho, on a snowy evening in late December 1905. Frank Steunenberg, a...

Progress's Pilgrim

Once upon a time, Henry Wallace was a liberal hero. At the dawn of the New Deal, the brilliant agronomist transformed the stodgy Agriculture Department (which his father, a Republican, headed a decade before) into the savior of the farm economy and a well-funded crusader for the scientific raising of crops and animals. In the late 1930s, he also vigorously espoused "collective security" against fascism abroad and more relief spending at home. Elected Franklin Roosevelt's vice president in 1940, Wallace toured the world at war, proclaiming that an "age of the common man" was at hand, if only the alliance with the Soviet Union could endure after the Axis powers were defeated. In the spring of 1944, the tennis-playing visionary from Iowa seemed poised to succeed the ailing FDR and, perhaps, to lead the nation into a future of full employment, racial equality, and stable peace based on free markets and goodwill. Of course, the story has an unhappy ending. Leery of Wallace's leftist...