Atlantic Crossings

From The Mason Historiographiki

Revision as of 00:27, 31 January 2013 by Kjohns25 (Talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search

Daniel T. Rodgers. Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998. 634 pp. $35.00, ISBN 0-674-05131-9.


Atlantic Crossings is a significant work of social and intellectual history. Rodgers argues that, contrary to standard tropes about "American exceptionalism", between the 1870s and through the end of World War II, American Progressives were actively engaged in a trans-Atlantic dialogue with fellow progressives in Western Europe, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The connections between idealists, reformers, and activists around the globe were numerous and the communication was certainly two-way. The narrative includes a chapter on young American college students having their horizons broadened in German universities, and another section on European visitors coming to America to admire public amenities like public parks, particularly Central Park in New York City.

This book is richly detailed; Rodgers is fluent in multiple European languages which enabled him to extend his research beyond the English-speaking world and research French and German sources as well. The areas of research are equally far-ranging: the state of Progressive politics, urban renewal and city planning, economics, and social insurance are just some of the broad reform movements he considers.

However, Rodgers is still forced to contend with the fact that, for the most part, Americans did not ultimately follow the same course that most other modern industrial democracies would in creating comprehensive, centralized social welfare policies and institutions. As much as he wants to refute "American exceptionalism", it is hard to avoid the implication that the concept is more than mere rhetoric.

However, Rodgers might very well counter that he is not arguing that America followed the same path as their Progressive allies on the other side of the globe. Rather, he is simply making the case that Americans were deeply invested in a cosmopolitan project of modernization and reform. To that extent, he has succeeded remarkably.


Personal tools