Cover: Roosevelt’s Purge: How FDR Fought to Change the Democratic Party, from Harvard University PressCover: Roosevelt’s Purge in PAPERBACK

Roosevelt’s Purge

How FDR Fought to Change the Democratic Party

Product Details

PAPERBACK

Print on Demand

$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674064300

Publication Date: 05/07/2012

Short

384 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

20 halftones

Belknap Press

World

Add to Cart

Educators: Request an Exam Copy (Learn more)

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

In his first term in office, Franklin Roosevelt helped pull the nation out of the Great Depression with his landmark programs. In November 1936, every state except Maine and Vermont voted enthusiastically for his reelection. But then the political winds shifted. Not only did the Supreme Court block some of his transformational experiments, but he also faced serious opposition within his own party. Conservative Democrats such as Senators Walter George of Georgia and Millard Tydings of Maryland allied themselves with Republicans to vote down New Deal bills.

Susan Dunn tells the dramatic story of FDR’s unprecedented battle to drive his foes out of his party by intervening in Democratic primaries and backing liberal challengers to conservative incumbents. Reporters branded his tactic a “purge”—and the inflammatory label stuck. Roosevelt spent the summer months of 1938 campaigning across the country, defending his progressive policies and lashing out at conservatives. Despite his efforts, the Democrats took a beating in the midterm elections.

The purge stemmed not only from FDR’s commitment to the New Deal but also from his conviction that the nation needed two responsible political parties, one liberal, the other conservative. Although the purge failed, at great political cost to the president, it heralded the realignment of political parties that would take place in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. By the end of the century, the irreconcilable tensions within the Democratic Party had exploded, and the once solidly Democratic South was solid no more. It had taken sixty years to resolve the tangled problems to which FDR devoted one frantic, memorable summer.

Awards & Accolades

  • 2011 Henry Adams Prize, Society for History in the Federal Government

Share This

The Burnout Challenge: Managing People’s Relationships with Their Jobs, by Christina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter, from Harvard University Press

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

A stack of five bestselling titles from Harvard University Press against a hot pink textured background

Ringing in the New Year with HUP’s 2022 Bestsellers

There is no better way for readers to usher in the new year than by looking back to the books that defined the last. For Harvard University Press, our 2022 bestsellers make up a diverse list of books across time and discipline.