An eye-opening account of populism, the most important — and misunderstood — movement of our time.
Everything we think we know about populism is wrong. Today, populism is seen as a frightening thing, a term pundits use to describe the racist philosophy of Donald Trump and European extremists. But this is a mistake.
The real story of populism is an account of enlightenment and liberation; it is the story of democracy itself, of its ever-widening promise of a decent life for all. Here, acclaimed political commentator Thomas Frank takes us from the US’s tumultuous 1890s, when the radical left-wing Populist Party fought plutocrats, to the triumphs of reformers under Roosevelt and Truman.
Frank also shows that elitist groups have reliably detested populism, lashing out at working-class concerns; today’s moral panic in liberal circles is only the latest expression. Frank pummels the elites, revisits the movement’s provocative politics, and declares true populism to be the language of promise and optimism. People Without Power is a ringing affirmation of a movement that, Frank shows us, is not the problem of our times, but the solution.
‘Political commentator Frank (Rendezvous with Oblivion) urges liberals to reclaim ‘the high ground of populism’ in this fervent and acerbically witty call to action … Frank blends diligent research with well-placed snark to keep readers turning the pages. Liberals will be outraged, enlightened, and entertained.’
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‘The author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? returns with a study of populism … [H]e argues that historically populism has been focused on expanding opportunities for all, and he sees anti-populist sentiment today as being anti-working class. That will stir debate.’
‘A provocative new book that encompasses historical analysis as well as the present.’
Dan Shaw, Happy Magazine
Praise for Rendezvous with Oblivion:
‘Frank’s combination of insightful analysis, moral passion, and keen satirical wit make these essays both entertaining and an important commentary on the times.’
Praise for Listen, Liberal:
‘An astute dissection of contemporary Democratic politics that demonstrates, cogently and at times acidly, how the party lost the allegiance of blue-collar Americans.’
Praise for The Wrecking Crew:
‘A no-holds-barred exegesis on the naked cynicism of conservatism in America.’ STARRED REVIEW
Praise for Pity the Billionaire:
‘Frank's wit is as sharp as ever, and his eye for detail and his ability to capture a scene reminded me of reading zoologist Dian Fossey on a group of strange political primates.’
The Washington Post
Praise for What’s the Matter with Kansas?:
‘Very funny and very painful … Add another literary gold star after Thomas Frank's name.’
San Francisco Chronicle