Take Hold of Our History: Make America Radical Again

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Take Hold of Our History by Harvey J Kaye

The eighteen essays and speeches in Take Hold of Our History render a manifesto – a call to remember, redeem, and embrace the American radical story and tradition in favor of cultivating American historical memory and imagination and making America radical once again.

For too long we have allowed the right to hijack the past and suppress, efface, lie about, and/or appropriate the essentially radical story of America from the struggles of the Revolution to those of the Age of Roosevelt and the 1960s. And no less tragically, we on the left, apparently haunted by the worst of our national experience, have turned our back on our own story and deferred to the tales of conservatives and reactionaries. Fleeing from the past, we merely compound the tragedies and ironies of American history, for we turn our backs on both the nation’s democratic creed and radical imperative, but also the struggles from the bottom up, the struggles in which working people and others have laid hold of America’s revolutionary promise and succeeded in making the United States freer, more equal and more democratic, at times, radically so.

As Bill Moyers put it in 2008: “Here in the first decade of the twenty-first century the story that becomes America’s dominant narrative will shape our collective imagination and our politics for a long time.” The time has come for us to advance that narrative. 

Krystal Ball, Rising on Hill.TV
Progressives have often allowed the right to co-opt American values and history, distorting them for their own use. This collection is a call to arms for progressives to reclaim the mantle of patriotism and resist right wing authoritarianism with the only thing that has ever worked, a pro-worker progressive agenda. Harvey Kaye does the essential work of explaining why now is the time to be in the words of FDR: “fairly radical for a generation.” 

Michael Brooks, The Michael Brooks Show
Harvey Kaye is our essential and always engaging guide to owning our progressive history. America has a rich progressive social-democratic history that has been obscured by the Right and all too often ignored by the Left. But now, as Bernie Sanders leads a social-democratic presidential campaign, we have an opportunity to assert a new politics. Whatever your politics are, you need to know this history and argument. 

Norman Lear, TV/Writer and Producer (All in the Family) and Founder of People for the American Way edit | delete
No one has ever loved a nation more or spanked it harder for straying from its premise than Harvey Kaye. 

John Nichols, The Nation
Standing at the intersection of the past and the future stands Harvey Kaye, our great radical historian. Kaye practices his craft in the tradition of E.P. Thompson and Howard Zinn, turning our attention to neglected individuals, moments and messages that illuminate our understanding of who we have been and who we are. Yet, Harvey Kaye brings to his scholarship a distinctive academic commitment, as readers of this fine book will quickly and surely recognize. He believes, correctly, that our revolutionary past provides the truest evidence that another world is possible.