In this perceptive, influential book, Robert Wiebe shows how businessmen helped to shape and were shaped by social reform in the early years of the 20th century. The Progressive Era served as a way station between agrarian and urban America: into it came men and women, institutions, and values born on the farms and in the towns; out of it emerged the first practical experiments in social reorganization for an industrial era. Although this exciting, noisy, and hopeful period contained much lost motion, beneath the tumult it contributed lasting changes in American life. In particular, demands came largely from a wide range of middle-income Americans whose arrival as organized, articulate, and demanding citizens reordered the social structure. Privileges of leadership were redistributed to accommodate these challengers. In the process, as Mr. Wiebe shows, businessmen took the lead in demanding reforms but divided into bitterly hostile factions and shied away from movements to extend democracy and public welfare. “Gracefully written, thoroughly researched, and imaginative…Wiebe s approach to progressivism, through “content” rather than through personality, and through the organized group rather than through the individual, incontrovertibly has great value.” American Historical Review.
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