LAGUARDIA IN CONGRESS
Honorable Mention, 1958 Albert J. Beveridge Award (American Historical Association)
Fall Creek Books / Cornell University Press (2010)
Paper • ISBN-13: 9780801476174 • US $28.95 • 302 pgs.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Fiorello LaGuardia is known best as the tempestuous mayor of New York City in the days when Franklin Delano Roosevelt sat in the White House. There had been, however, an earlier time, which matched his mayoralty years in sheer drama and perhaps surpassed them in lasting achievement—LaGuardia’s years in Congress.
He served in the House of Representative almost continuously from 1917 to 1933, representing two ethnically diverse congressional districts: the Fourteenth (Greenwich Village), from 1917 to 1919, and the Twentieth (East Harlem), from 1923 to 1933. Although barred from important committee posts because of his political independence and thus denied from playing a direct role in lawmaking, he was a tireless and vocal champion of Progressive causes, from allowing more immigration and removing U.S. troops from Nicaragua to speaking up for the rights and livelihoods of striking miners, impoverished farmers, oppressed minorities, and struggling families. A goad to the era’s plutocrats and their enablers in government, LaGuardia fought for progressive income taxes, greater government oversight of Wall Street, and national employment insurance for workers idled by the Great Depression.
In this book, first published by Cornell University Press in 1959, Howard Zinn establishes LaGuardia’s tenure in Congress as a vital link between the Progressive and New Deal eras, offering a lively and informative account of his many legislative battles, his political philosophy, and the distinctly urban (specifically, New York City) sensibilities he brought to the Progressive movement.
“Howard Zinn’s LaGuardia in Congress is an exceedingly well-written and highly readable study of a man and his times. It describes the career of an extraordinary human being whose background and ideology presaged the New Deal and whose specific legislative program foreshadowed and even went beyond it…. The volume is well documented. Zinn has drawn heavily from the personal papers of LaGuardia and his contemporaries, as well as from the interpretive studies of the period.”
American Political Science Review
“An admirable book, lively, objective, and nostalgic…. LaGuardia kept the flame of reform at least sputtering through years when the popular opinion supposed everything to be perfect. Howard Zinn wisely reminds us not to think of LaGuardia as having been an ‘important figure’ in these years; yet his energy was so fierce and many of the incidents of his political battles so picturesque that one could easily exaggerate the place he held on the national scene. In fact, he was almost invariably on the side of defeat. He was fighting against massive powers and, even more chillingly, against apathy and complacency.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Howard Zinn (1922–2010) was a historian, playwright, and activist. He wrote the classic A People’s History of the United States, “a brilliant and moving history of the American people from the point of view of those … whose plight has been largely omitted from most histories” (Library Journal). The book, which has sold more than 2.6 million copies and been translated into 23 foreign editions, has become a cultural touchstone, encouraging interest in “people’s histories” in universities and activist meetings alike. In 2009, History aired The People Speak, an acclaimed documentary co-directed by Zinn, based on A People’s History and a companion volume, Voices of a People’s History of the United States. As Noam Chomsky wrote, “Howard Zinn’s work literally changed the conscience of a generation.”
Zinn grew up in a working-class, immigrant household in Brooklyn. At eighteen, he became a shipyard worker and flew bomber missions over Europe during World War II, experiences which helped to shape his opposition to war and his interest in the lives of working people. After attending college under the GI Bill and earning a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University, he taught at Spelman College, a historically black women’s college, where he became active in the civil rights movement. After being fired by Spelman for his support for student protesters, Zinn became a professor of Political Science at Boston University, where he taught until his retirement in 1988. He wrote more than forty books.
OTHER TITLES BY THIS AUTHOR
A People’s History of the United States: Abridged Teaching Edition (with Kathy Emery and Ellen Reeves)
A People’s History of the United States: The Wall Charts (with George Kirschner)
Howard Zinn On Democratic Education (with Donaldo Macedo)
Howard Zinn Speaks: Collected Speeches, 1963–2009 (ed. Anthony Arnove)
Indispensable Zinn: The Essential Writings of the “People’s Historian” (ed. Timothy Patrick McCarthy)
Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics (with David Barsamian)
Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor’s Last Century (with Dana Frank and Robin D. G. Kelley)
Uncommon Sense: From the writings of Howard Zinn (eds. Dean Birkenkamp and Wanda Rhudy)
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