Right Turn: John T. Flynn and the Transformation of American Liberalism

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John T. Flynn, a prolific writer, columnist for the New Republic, Harper's Magazine, and Collier's Weekly, radio commentator, and political activist, was described by the New York Times in 1964 as “a man of wide-ranging contradictions.” In this new biography of Flynn, John E. Moser fleshes out his many contradictions and profound influence on U.S. history and political discourse.
In the 1930s, Flynn advocated extensive regulation of the economy, the breakup of holding companies, and heavy taxes on the wealthy. A mere fifteen years later he was denouncing the New Deal as “creeping socialism,” calling for an abolition of the income tax, and hailing Senator Joseph McCarthy and his fellow anticommunists as saviors of the American Republic. Yet throughout his career he insisted that he had remained true to the principles of liberalism as he understood them.
It was America's political culture that changed, he argued, and not his values and views. Drawing on Flynn’s life and his prolific writings, Moser illuminates how liberalism in America changed during the mid-twentieth century and considers whether Flynn’s ideological odyssey was the product of opportunism, or the result of a set of deep-seated principles that he championed consistently over the years. In addition, Right Turn examines Flynn’s role in laying the foundations for the “culture war” that would be played out in American society for the rest of the century, helping to define modern American conservatism.


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About the Author 277

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Page 9 - Yet, Mr. President, as I heard his eloquent description of wealth and glory and commerce and trade, I listened in vain for those words which the American people have been wont to take upon their lips in every solemn crisis of their history. I heard much calculated to excite the imagination of the youth seeking wealth, or the youth charmed by the dream of empire. But the words, Right, Justice, Duty, Freedom, were absent, my friend must permit me to say, from the eloquent speech.

About the author (2005)

John E. Moser is assistant professor of history at Ashland University. He is the author of Twisting the Lion’s Tail: American Anglophobia Between the World Wars (NYU Press, 1998) and Presidents from Hoover through Truman, 1929-1953.

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