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The La Follettes of Wisconsin
Love and Politics in Progressive America
Bernard A. Weisberger

An intimate portrait of the Progressive movement and the revealing, poignant story of an American political family

The La Follettes of Wisconsin—Robert, Belle, and their children, Bob Jr., Phil, Fola, and Mary—are vividly brought to life in this collective biography of an American political family. As governor of Wisconsin (1901–06) and U.S. Senator (1906–25), “Fighting Bob” battled relentlessly for his Progressive vision of democracy—an idealistic mixture of informed citizenry and enlightened egalitarianism.
By contrast, the private man suffered from intense, isolated periods of depression and relied heavily on his family for survival. Together, “Old Bob” and his beloved wife, Belle Case La Follette—a lawyer, journalist, and Progressive leader in her own right—raised their children in the distinctly uncompromising La Follette tradition of challenging social and political ills. Fola became a campaigner for women’s suffrage, Phil was governor of Wisconsin, and “Young Bob” became a U.S. Senator.

“Highly readable, judicious in tone, aware of the La Follettes’ limitations while insistent upon their manifest accomplishments, committed in its admiration of reform values and goals, and long overdue. Its attention to love and affection within the [La Follette] family demonstrates how important these values and relationships can be to any family, including political ones.” —John E. Miller, Reviews in American History

Bernard A. Weisberger is currently the "In the News" columnist for American Heritage. In his distinguished career he has published seventeen books and countless articles on Americana. His television and film credentials include collaborations with Bill Moyers and Ken Burns.

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“An important and timely book.... An invaluable contribution to our understanding of the history of the FBI and of the pernicious legacy of national security policy on the right to dissent.” —Athan Theoharis, Marquette University, author of The FBI and American Democracy

the cover of The La Follettes features photos of Fighting Bob and his wife Belle Case La Follette.

December 2013

LC: 93-032286 E
382 pp.   6 x 9   24 b/w photos

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Paper $26.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-14134-9
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“Focusing on the intense personal relationships that bound the state’s first family together in the pursuit of the public good, Weisberger’s account breaks fresh ground in its analysis of the origins and development of Wisconsin Progressivism and enhances our understanding of Midwestern insurgency.”
—James J. Lorence, Journal of American History

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Updated May 30, 2013

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