Redefining our traditional understanding of the New Deal, Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time examines this pivotal American era through a sweeping international lens that juxtaposes a struggling democracy with enticing ideologies like Fascism and Communism. Ira Katznelson, “a towering figure in the study of American and European history” (Cornel West), boldly asserts that, during the 1930s and 1940s, American democracy was rescued yet distorted by a unified band of southern lawmakers who safeguarded racial segregation as they built a new national state to manage capitalism and assert global power. This original study brings to vivid life the politicians and pundits of the time, including Walter Lippmann, who argued that America needed a dose of dictatorship; Mississippi’s five-foot-two Senator Theodore Bilbo, who advocated the legal separation of races; and Robert Oppenheimer, who built the atomic bomb yet was tragically undone by the nation’s hysteria. Fear Itself is a necessary work, vital to understanding our world–a world the New Deal first made.


Ira Katznelson  Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University

Ira Katznelson is Columbia University’s Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History. Having served as president of the American Political Science Association, he is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is also the author of “When Affirmative Action Was White.”

Moderated by David Nasaw  Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History Graduate Center of the City University of New York

David Nasaw is the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Professor Nasaw received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. His most recent book, The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy (Penguin Press, 2012), was selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the top ten books of 2012. His previous book, Andrew Carnegie, was awarded the 2007 New-York Historical Society Prize in American History, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and was selected as a “notable” book of 2006 by the New York Times and a “best” book of the year by the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Business Week, and Library Journal. Nasaw is also the author of The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst (2000) which was awarded the Bancroft Prize for History, the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for Non-Fiction, the Ambassador Book Prize for Biography, and the Sperber Prize for Biography.

“Fear Itself: the New Deal and the Origins of Our Time,” a Book Discussion with Ira Katznelson | Posted on February 1st, 2013 | Book Discussions, Public Programs