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Sunday, April 12, 2015

10 Books on the Progressive Tradition

What is the progressive tradition? What is that mindset that inspires people to challenge misguided thinking and oppressive practices so as to open up opportunities for future improvements? Between early 17th and mid-20th century, a new philosophy of life emerged to drive scientific, social and political reforms. Below are ten books which examine key aspects of how this tradition has developed, the opposition it encountered, and what lessons contemporary progressives may draw from the struggles. For anyone looking for some general background reading on what being progressive is really about, this selection should help:

Enlightenment: An Interpretation (Vols 1 & 2), by Peter Gay (Wildwood House: 1973)

Witch-hunting, Magic & the New Philosophy: an introduction to the debates of the scientific revolution 1450-1750, by Brian Easlea (Harvester Press: 1980)

Uncertain Victory: social democracy and progressivism in European and American thought 1870-1920, by James T. Kloppenberg (Oxford University Press: 1986)

The Scientific Intellectual: the psychological & sociological origins of modern science, by Lewis S. Feuer (Transaction Publishers: 1992)

The Republican Moment: struggles for democracy in nineteenth century France, by Philip Nord (Harvard University Press: 1995)

The Five Giants: a biography of the welfare state, by Nicholas Timmins (Fontana Press: 1996)

Atlantic Crossings: social politics in a progressive age, by Daniel T. Rodgers (Harvard University Press: 1998)

Enemies of the Enlightenment: the French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity, by Darrin M. McMahon (Oxford University Press: 2001)

The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America came to be, by Michael Lux (John Wiley & Sons: 2009)

Against Power Inequalities: a history of the progressive struggle, by Henry Tam (Birkbeck: 2010; new edition: 2015)