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The Revolution of ’28The Revolution of ’28

Al Smith, American Progressivism, and the Coming of the New Deal

Robert Chiles

Narrated by Peter Lerman

Available from Audible


Book published by Cornell University Press


The Revolution of ’28 explores the career of New York governor and 1928 Democratic presidential nominee Alfred E. Smith. Robert Chiles peers into Smith’s work and uncovers a distinctive strain of American progressivism that resonated among urban, ethnic, working-class Americans in the early twentieth century. The book charts the rise of that idiomatic progressivism during Smith’s early years as a state legislator through his time as governor of the Empire State in the 1920s, before proceeding to a revisionist narrative of the 1928 presidential campaign, exploring the ways in which Smith’s gubernatorial progressivism was presented to a national audience. As Chiles points out, new-stock voters responded enthusiastically to Smith's candidacy on both economic and cultural levels.

Chiles offers a historical argument that describes the impact of this coalition on the new liberal formation that was to come with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, demonstrating the broad practical consequences of Smith’s political career. In particular, Chiles notes how Smith’s progressive agenda became Democratic partisan dogma and a rallying point for policy formation and electoral success at the state and national levels. Chiles sets the record straight in The Revolution of ’28 by paying close attention to how Smith identified and activated his emergent coalition and put it to use in his campaign of 1928, before quickly losing control over it after his failed presidential bid.

Robert Chiles earned his PhD in History from the University of Maryland. He has published articles in leading journals including Environmental History, The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, and New York History, and has taught at Loyola University Maryland and Goucher College. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Maryland.

REVIEWS:

“ "May galvanize readers currently feeling cheated by a shortage of contemporary political heroes. I, for one, can never get enough of New York’s 1920s governor Alfred E. Smith, whom Robert Chiles... reanimates in The Revolution of ’28.

The New York Times

“This is an exceptionally thorough, well-balanced, and clearly written volume. It puts Progressivism, Smith's governorship and 1928 campaign for the presidency, and the New Deal in a broader context.”

Choice

“Dispensing with the too-simple dichotomies on which scholars have so often relied, Chiles demonstrates that Smith was both a machine politician and a Progressive, a social and a structural reformer, a cultural symbol and a champion of working-class interests.”

—James J. Connolly, Director of the Center for Middletown Studies and George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of History, Ball State University

“i>The Revolution of ’28 is an engaging, boldly argued critique of Al Smith’s influence on American politics and policy making.”

—Daniel O. Prosterman, Associate Professor of History at Salem College

“The most finely-nuanced portrait of Smith as legislator, administrator, and presidential candidate that I have ever read, and the most thoughtful and balanced account of the 1928 presidential campaign and election, one that painstakingly avoids the extremes of the 'politics of provincialism', on the one hand, and the 'Al Smith Revolution', on the other.”

—John D. Buenker, author of Urban Liberalism and Progressive Reform





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