A.J. Muste and the History of Radicalism in the Twentieth Century
University of Pennsylvania Press 2014
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Human RightsNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network April 6, 2015 Lilian Calles Barger
Leilah Danielson is an Associate Professor of History at Northern Arizona University and author of American Gandhi: A.J. Muste and the History of Radicalism in the Twentieth Century (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014). American Gandhi is a political, intellectual and religious biography of the pacifist, labor educator and organizer A.J. Muste whose radical career and influence stretched over the course of the twentieth century. Danielson examines how Muste combined a religious prophetic tradition with pragmatism, and an evolving pacifism, against revolutionary dogma and humanism. Muste, committed to grounding theory in practice and the individual in community, argued that economic democracy was the means toward political democracy. As part of the left, his influence included an American adaptation of Gandhian nonviolence resistance applied to the cause of labor, civil rights, antiwar, anti-nuclear, the authoritarian state and anticolonial movements. Danielson charts the private and personal evolution of a religious radical through the loss and recovery of faith and his role as a vanguard leader of multiple movements. Muste’s pragmatic yet principled and radical approach fostered some of the most creative and remarkable innovations in progressive thought in the twentieth century. Danielson’s research corrects the historical neglect of Muste and recovers an often-unrecognized figure whose influence remains.