A Fierce Discontent by Michael E. McGerr provides a flowing narrative of the progressive shifts occurring both economically, culturally and politically. Through multiple eyes and stories, McGerr uses different perspectives to amplify themes beginning to grow in the American subconscious. Due to it’s story-like narrative surrounding historical figures such as Roosevelt, E.A. Ross and Jane Adams, it is more difficult to analyze specific pieces of the book at a time. However, this does allow for a broader understanding of the themes presented in the writing. Although I have not completed the almost 400-page book yet, already I have come across terms such as Social Darwinism and muckrakers. These factors so far are building blocks to my understanding of the cause and effect of the progressive moment. The political reform and social activism inspired by the movement carried several interesting levels and themes. The combination of fear and hope found an especially strong foothold in the middle class, despite a relatively large amount of influence in the nation. The effects detailed in McGerr’s A Fierce Discontent exude racism and fear of unrestricted immigration. Additionally, the fear of large corporate businesses which is where my main focus of white collar crime will tie in. However, the hope inspire changes in the nation that transformed into a political movement. Additionally, many of these worries were intertwined in various ways that I hope to continue to explore and understand further as I progress farther towards the end of the book. The only downfall of A Fierce Discontent is what seems to be a single story told documenting those partaking and promoting the progressive movement, which were generally male, native-born, middle class americans. I’d also like to find source documenting a different perspective such as minorities or different classes in the changing nation.
McGerr, Michael E. A fierce discontent: the rise and fall of the Progressive movement in America, 1870-1920. New York: Free Press, 2003. Print.