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Men of Good Hope: A Story of American Progressives

First published in 1951, Men of Good Hope is the first volume in Aaron’s trilogy focused on the American progressive tradition, its hopes as well as its failures.  Revisiting the political and economic philosophies of nineteenth-century progressives Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Parker, Henry George, Edward Bellamy, Henry Demarest Lloyd, William Dean Howell, and Thorstein Veblen, Aaron takes a long hard look at what he calls “the bogus progressivism” of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, which, in his view, has not fared well in the twentieth century. “This book is written in the belief,” he wrote, “that the idealistic and ethical concerns of the old progressives are essential to any liberal movement....I think it possible that the visions of the nineteenth century can encourage the twentieth and that we may discover in Emerson’s ‘men who entertain good hope’ a faith and strategy for today.” The reviewers agreed with him. “This is the book for the times, but it is more than that,” wrote Merle Curti in American Literature. “Mr. Aaron undertook the hard task of writing a book that is at once a work of scholarship and of illumination for these dark and confused years.”