Jack Ross, a freelance editor and independent historian in Brooklyn, New York, has produced the definitive history of the most successful third party of the 20th century in his new book, The Socialist Party of America: A Complete History, published by the the University of Nebraska Press.
The Barre Historical Society is particularly proud to feature this book in its store since the founders of the Hall were avowed socialists and Barre had many socialist officials and even a socialist mayor.
At a time when the word “socialist” is but one of numerous political epithets that are generally divorced from the historical context of America’s political history, The Socialist Party of America presents a new, mature understanding of America’s most important minor political party of the twentieth century. From the party’s origins in the labor and populist movements at the end of the nineteenth century, to its heyday with the charismatic Eugene V. Debs, who spoke at the Hall, and to its persistence through the Depression and the Second World War under the steady leadership of “America’s conscience,” Norman Thomas, The Socialist Party of America guides readers through the party’s twilight, ultimate demise, and the successor groups that arose following its collapse.
Based on archival research, Jack Ross’s study challenges the orthodoxies of both sides of the historiographical debate as well as assumptions about the Socialist Party in historical memory. Ross similarly covers the related emergence of neoconservatism and other facets of contemporary American politics and assesses some of the more sensational charges from the right about contemporary liberalism and the “radicalism” of Barack Obama.
“Jack Ross has performed a prodigious and provocative feat of recovery and historical interpretation. In Ross’s telling, the Socialist Party of America is not just a dreary dress rehearsal for Cold War liberalism or neoconservatism but rather, at its best, a living, breathing embodiment of populist American radicalism.”—Bill Kauffman, author of Ain’t My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism
“Not only does Jack Ross cover the history of the [Socialist Party of America] and its leading adherents, he also offers an analysis of socialism’s rise, decline, and persistence as a marginal movement in the United States that is more complete and original than that of any other scholars of the political left. . . . This history deserves the attention and respect of every reader.”—Melvyn Dubofsky, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of history and sociology at Binghamton University, SUNY, and coauthor of John L. Lewis: A Biography