American Gandhi

American Gandhi
A. J. Muste and the History of Radicalism in the Twentieth Century

Leilah Danielson

480 pages | 6 x 9 | 10 illus.
Cloth Sep 2014 | ISBN 978-0-8122-4639-1 | $55.00s | £36.00 | Add to cart
Ebook Sep 2014 | ISBN 978-0-8122-9177-3 | $55.00s | £36.00 | About | Add to cart
A volume in the Politics and Culture in Modern America series
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"This first-rate study establishes A. J. Muste's significance by placing him in the rich context of left-wing politics and thought from World War I to the mid-1960s. Leilah Danielson captures Muste's unique position as a figure who, by dint of his welcoming personality, could often transcend bitter sectarian conflicts and build coalitions which advanced common purposes. She explains why Muste became a beloved figure, even among Americans who disapproved of his politics."—Michael Kazin, author of American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation

"Leilah Danielson's state-of-the-art political biography of A. J. Muste is a major work in the history of twentieth-century American radicalism. Comprehensive and engrossing throughout, it will be indispensable to those interested in the history of the modern American left, to those interested in the history of pacifism and nonviolence, and to those interested in the intersection of religion and dissent in twentieth-century America. American Gandhi is really going to be the Muste biography for this generation, and for a long time to come."—Doug Rossinow, Metropolitan State University

When Abraham Johannes Muste died in 1967, newspapers throughout the world referred to him as the "American Gandhi." Best known for his role in the labor movement of the 1930s and his leadership of the peace movement in the postwar era, Muste was one of the most charismatic figures of the American left in his time. Had he written the story of his life, it would also have been the story of social and political struggles in the United States during the twentieth century.

In American Gandhi, Leilah Danielson establishes Muste's distinctive activism as the work of a prophet and a pragmatist. Muste warned that the revolutionary dogmatism of the Communist Party would prove a dead end, understood the moral significance of racial equality, argued early in the Cold War that American pacifists should not pick a side, and presaged the spiritual alienation of the New Left from the liberal establishment. At the same time, Muste committed to grounding theory in practice and the individual in community. His open, pragmatic approach fostered some of the most creative and remarkable innovations in progressive thought and practice in the twentieth century, including the adaptation of Gandhian nonviolence for American concerns and conditions.

A political biography of Muste's evolving political and religious views, American Gandhi also charts the rise and fall of American progressivism over the course of the twentieth century and offers the possibility of its renewal in the twenty-first.

Leilah Danielson is Associate Professor of History at Northern Arizona University.

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