The Fate of Agrarian Radicalism in Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa, 1880-1892
The Plains states in the late 1800s flung open their political doors to the Populist party while their fellow midwestern neighbors to the east left it standing on the porch. Why the contrasting receptions? Traditionally the disparity has been attributed solely to economic differences. A superficially logical answer, says Jeffrey Ostler, but too simple.
Ostler contends that the distinction historians have made between "hardship" on the Plains and "prosperity" to the east is overdrawn. Through a comparison of economics and politics in two Populist states—Kansas and Nebraska, and one non-Populist state—Iowa, he shows that in addition to financial influences, the contours of the existing political order played a key role in determining the fate of populism. In the process of explaining why populism ultimately failed to become a national movement, he also illuminates the perennial question of why third parties in the United States have met with little success.
“Ostler has written an excellent book that points to the significance of politics in understanding the overall success or failure of radical movements in the United States.”
“A strong addition to scholarship on the Populists.”
—American Historical ReviewSee all reviews...
“An important study.”
—Reviews in American History
“A well researched and an insightful investigation that focuses upon both an important region and a major historical question in the study of the Populist movement.”
—Western Historical Quarterly
“Ostler has produced an outstanding, well-researched volume on the Populist movement in Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas, which should be required reading for anyone wanting to investigate midwestern politics of the late nineteenth century and the functioning of a federal system of government.”
—North Dakota History
“Ostler has written a first-rate book that reads well and contains a wealth of information.”
“Engaging reading and accessible to a wide audience.”
—Great Plains Quarterly
“Ostler’s study is analytically sophisticated and crisply executed. It is required reading for anyone interested in the relationships between social movements and political parties and underscores, in a subtle and refreshing way, the nonobvious role that federalism has played and still plays in the American party system’s development.”
—Richard M. Valelly, author of Radicalism in the States: The Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party and the American Political Economy
“A fresh interpretation of political history. Ostler writes with equal sophistication on the economic conditions of midwestern agriculture, the social dynamics of farm organizations, and the nuances of state politics. The work is also significant because so little has been written on Populism in Iowa and other states where the third-party movement was a failure.”
—Robert C. McMath Jr., author of American PopulismSee fewer reviews...