Progressivism: The Strange History of a Radical Idea is at its core, an intellectual history, tracing the work of progressive historians as they in turn wrote the history of progressivism. Bradley C. S. Watson presents an intellectual history of American progressivism as a philosophical-political phenomenon, focusing on how and with what consequences the academic discipline of history came to accept and propagate it. This book offers a meticulously detailed historiography and critique of the insularity and biases of academic culture. It shows how the first scholarly interpreters of progressivism were, in large measure, also its intellectual architects, and later interpreters were in deep sympathy with their premises and conclusions. The book will interest students and scholars of American political thought, the Progressive Era, and historiography, and it will be a useful reference work for anyone in history, law, and political science.
“Bradley C. S. Watson’s new book Progressivism: The Strange History of a Radical Idea points scholars in new and productive directions regarding the political thought of the Progressive Era. Watson writes with vigor and verve, making the book of great appeal to anyone trying to take the true measure of the legacy of Progressive political thought in American history.”—Public Discourse
“The book is more than an extended review of the literature, however; it is an indictment. And it is hard not to agree with Watson’s assessment that these historians were guilty of obscuring as much as they illuminated about the Progressives.”—Law and Liberty
Bradley C. S. Watson is the Philip M. McKenna Chair in American and Western Political Thought at Saint Vincent College. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence and Progressive Challenges to the American Constitution: A New Republic.
- Award: ISI Conservative Book of the Year Finalist
- Read our interview with author Bradley C. Watson here.