Mary E. Stuckey
FDR, The Clergy Letters, and the Elements of Political Argument
Michigan State University Press 2018
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in CommunicationsNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network August 20, 2018 Lilly Goren
Mary E. Stuckey’s new book, Political Vocabularies: FDR, The Clergy Letters, and the Elements of Political Argument (Michigan State University Press, 2018), is a fascinating and engaging investigation of an early period during the Roosevelt Administration that provides the reader with a broad and expansive understanding of different aspects of presidential politics, political rhetoric, communication between elected officials and constituents, and the shifting perceptions of the role of the executive in the American political system. This snapshot in time, in this case, 1935, provides a much bigger picture of power, political change, and the sense of the country as a whole.
Stuckey integrates aspects of these letters into her analysis as she explores rhetorical authority and differing political vocabularies as seen while the power and structural dynamics in the United States shifted during this period. She also examines how these letters between clergy members and the president provide readers with an understanding of American politics, religious warrants, and political imaginaries. This is an important and complex analysis because it also gets at the heart of what Americans understand about themselves and the political world in which they engage and participate. This book will be of interest to a broad range of scholars from political scientists and communication scholars to those in theology and religious studies as well as non-academics who will find Stuckey’s research and analysis fascinating in considering how the United States thinks about itself.