Adlai Stevenson and American politics : the odyssey of a Cold War liberal /
"If Adlai Stevenson was not unique," writes Jeff Broadwater, "he was unusual. Presidential candidates who, despite repeated defeats, have been able to retain a devoted following and a visible role in the public life of their day can be counted on one hand." Admirers and detractor...
|Main Author:||Broadwater, Jeff.|
New York :
Twayne's twentieth-century American biography series ;
"If Adlai Stevenson was not unique," writes Jeff Broadwater, "he was unusual. Presidential candidates who, despite repeated defeats, have been able to retain a devoted following and a visible role in the public life of their day can be counted on one hand." Admirers and detractors alike could agree that Stevenson - who lost back-to-back races as the Democratic nominee for president to the popular Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s - was one of the most eloquent and powerful voices of the decade. In Adlai Stevenson and American Politics, Broadwater illuminates the life and times of a remarkably engaging and influential politician.
Despite his twin defeats to Eisenhower, Stevenson had an impressive public career: as a young lawyer in FDR's New Deal administration, as special assistant to the secretary of the navy in World War II, as an advisor on the creation of the United Nations after the war, as governor of Illinois from 1949 to 1953, as ambassador to the United Nations in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Yet among his finest moments, Broadwater writes, were his campaigns for the presidency, when he managed to rally a demoralized, divided Democratic party and to give the American public - for the last time in recent history, according to some pundits - a choice between two good candidates, not merely the lesser of two evils.
Prized for his wit and respected for an integrity rare in the rough-and-tumble of American politics, Stevenson was also faulted for his indecisiveness, evidenced in his lengthy ruminations over whether to run for the presidency in 1952, 1956, and even 1960, when John F. Kennedy won the Democratic nomination. A champion of U.S. responsibilities in world affairs, of the democratic process, and of honest efficient government, Stevenson has since the late 1960s come under fire from some historians for failing to speak out against the war in Vietnam and for showing little regard for civil rights or economic justice. Yet he could also be far-sighted: Stevenson was an early advocate of what we now know as Medicare and an early sponsor of the first nuclear test ban treaty.
Broadwater presents a clear-minded view of Stevenson in all his guises, ultimately depicting a flawed yet vital human figure who above all else sought to participate in the great events of his day. Under the pressures of McCarthyism and the cold war, Stevenson forged a liberal agenda that, while keeping a wary eye on communist expansion, stressed the vindication of individual rights and ethics in government. He came to embody what to the contemporary ear sounds like an oxymoron - cold war liberalism - but left as a legacy what many Americans today clamor for in their public officials: an abiding decency that expresses itself in genuine action for the public good.
xvi, 291 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Also issued online.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 239-284) and index.