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In Southern California and on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, tenants challenged landlords with sit-ins and referenda; in the upper Midwest, farmers vandalized power lines and mobilized tractors to protect their land; and in the deindustrializing cities of the Rust Belt, laid-off workers boldly claimed the right to own their idled factories.


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Meanwhile, activists fought to defend the traditional family or to expand the rights of women, while entire towns organized to protest the toxic sludge in their basements. Recalling Love Canal, the tax revolt in California, ACT UP, and other crusades famous or forgotten, Foley shows how Americans were propelled by personal experiences and emotions into the public sphere. Disregarding conventional ideas of left and right, they turned to political action when they perceived, from their actual or figurative front porches, an immediate threat to their families, homes, or dreams.

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Front Porch Politics is a vivid and authoritative people's history of a time when Americans followed their outrage into the streets. The distinctively visceral, local, and highly personal politics that Americans practiced in the s and s provide a model of citizenship participation worth emulating if we are to renew our democracy. Foley's book will doubtless inspire a new generation of scholars to revisit this fascinating era. Foley vividly conveys the emotional valiance of these often desperate struggles by Americans in the s and s to cope with political and economic forces that threatened to overwhelm them.

The author has done historians a service by weaving the strands of disparate works of secondary scholarship into a sweeping and accessible tapestry. Foley offers a vision that scholars would do well to consider as we begin to piece together the quarter century of growing inequality since the end point of his study. Nor, he suggests, can these years be seen as a time of quiescence or retreat. Instead, they were characterized by an intense, angry, and impassioned style of activism on issues that spanned the political spectrum. Foley's book is packed with vivid accounts of the battles he covers, many of which will be unfamiliar to readers today.

This is a wise and gracefully composed book--and essential reading for anyone who cares about the past and future of democracy in America.

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In Front Porch Politics , he demolishes the myth of posts political exhaustion and gives us instead a fascinating account of grassroots politics in the s and s, an era when millions of Americans fought for a moral capitalism and social equity. In place of America's years of despair, this lively, well-crafted study reveals a tremendous mix of citizen-based political initiatives. Whether it was environmental issues, family values, or factory closings, the government wasn't doing it for these local activists, so they stood up and did it themselves.

Maybe this wasn't the 'me decade' after all. Maybe it was the decade of self-reliance--collectively pursued. Foley's new synthesis of a much misunderstood era demands to be read.

This is a wonderful book that should permanently lay to rest the claim that the s and s were decades of simple conservative domination or political quiescence. He is now a professor of American political culture at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

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Front Porch Politics: The Forgotten Heyday of American Activism in the 1970s and 1980s

Dispatch time is working days from our warehouse. Book will be sent in robust, secure packaging to ensure it reaches you securely. Book Description St. Martins Press-3pl, United States, Publication Date: September 17, An on-the-ground history of ordinary Americans who took to the streets when political issues became personal The s are widely seen as the high tide of political activism in the United States.

According to this view, Americans retreated to the private realm after the tumult of the civil rights and antiwar movements, and on the rare occasions when they did take action, it was mainly to express their wish to be left alone by government as recommended by Ronald Reagan and the ascendant New Right. In fact, as Michael Stewart Foley shows in "Front Porch Politics," this understanding of posts politics needs drastic revision.

On the community level, the s and s witnessed an unprecedented upsurge of innovative and impassioned grass roots political activity.

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In Southern California and on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, tenants challenged landlords with sit-ins and referenda; in the upper Midwest, farmers vandalized power lines and mobilized tractors to protect their land; and in the deindustrializing cities of the Rust Belt, laid-off workers boldly claimed the right to own their idled factories. Meanwhile, activists fought to defend the traditional family or to expand the rights of women, while entire towns organized to protest the toxic sludge in their basements. Recalling Love Canal, the tax revolt in California, ACT UP, and other crusades famous or forgotten, Foley shows how Americans were propelled by personal experiences and emotions into the public sphere.

Disregarding conventional ideas of left and right, they turned to political action when they perceived, from their actual or figurative front porches, an immediate threat to their families, homes, or dreams. Addressing today's readers, it is also a field guide for effective activism in an era when mass movements may seem impractical or even passe. The distinctively visceral, local, and highly personal politics that Americans practiced in the s and s provide a model of citizenship participation worth emulating if we are to renew our democracy.