Schlesinger's The Vital Center - dustjacket blurb for 1949 edition

The impact of this book is as sharp and clear as the note of a bell.  
Cutting through the confusions and fears of our time, it shows how we can 
recharge our democratic faith with some of its old passion and principle.

Why is our free society on the brink of failure?  Why are we a prey to 
anxiety and insecurity, "not free, but out on parole?"  Because, says Mr. 
Schlesinger, neither the Conservatives nor the Progressives have been 
able to meet the terrific repercussions of industrialism, under which 
"man must beyond his moral and emotional means."  "The business man 
rescued society from the feudal warrior only to hand it over to the 
accountant."  Meanwhile the Progressives. quick to criticize but slow to 
take responsibility, have been building the myth of the happy Marxist 
"worker" and the USSR.  But the totalitarian state--whether Fascist or 
Communist--is even more of a hoax.  Its model subject is the submissive 
prisoner, such a citizen as can be produced only imperfectly outside a 
concentration camp.

What is the answer?  Mr. Schlesinger sees it in a revitalization of our 
faith in freedom, a resurgence of the middle way.  To him these are not 
merely words, but already discernible facts.  Communism is forcing 
democrats to reclaim their democratic values.  Now democracy has its last 
chance to show whether it can preserve free society in an industrial age.

A trained historian, Mr. Schlesinger shows us our present situation in 
perspective.  He traces the history and influence of Communism in 
America and the rise of the non-Communist Left in Europe.  He analyzes 
the nature of "civil liberties" and clarifies the befogged issue of 
loyalty in government service.  Finally he sets forth the main outlines 
of a "new radical program"--a militant liberalism which would once more 
make freedom a faith worth fighting for.

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