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The Shock of AmericaEurope and the Challenge of the Century$
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David Ellwood

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780198228790

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198228790.001.0001

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Roosevelt's America: The Flickering Beacon

Roosevelt's America: The Flickering Beacon

(p.176) 5 Roosevelt's America: The Flickering Beacon
The Shock of America

David Ellwood

Oxford University Press

Increasingly Roosevelt's 1930s America looked like European capitalism's last best hope. But what were the true lessons of its successes and obvious failures? ‘Middle’ opinion in Britain — personified by Keynes — took them seriously; the French Popular Front attempted to embrace them in lieu of the socialist revolution; everywhere the personal charisma and unbeatable optimism of the President served as an inspiration even as democractic politicians despaired that he would ever rescue them from the threat of war. But America was changing; an internationalist élite was girding itself to embrace the rendez-vous with history it saw in the Old World's collapse, developing its economic-determinist analysis of the roots of Europe's troubles, and presenting its view of a technologically driven, consumerist future with enormous panache at the New York World's Fair of 1939–40. But of all America's institutions, only Hollywood and the great foundations embraced the cause of European democracy openly, with the result that they became a mecca for the hundreds of intellectual and artistic exiles who fled to the US as war came.

Keywords:   Roosevelt, New Deal, middle way, Keynes, Popular Front, intellectual exiles, New York World's Fair, isolationism

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