Young Radicals (Hardcover)

In the War for American Ideals

By Jeremy McCarter

Random House, 9780812993059, 400pp.

Publication Date: June 13, 2017

Other Editions of This Title:
MP3 CD (4/10/2018)

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Description

From the co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Hamilton: The Revolution, the stunning story of five American radicals fighting for their ideals as the country goes mad around them

“Inspiring and entertaining.”—David Brooks, The New York Times

“It’s not difficult to see why [Lin-Manuel] Miranda would have been attracted to [Jeremy] McCarter as a writing partner.”—The Wall Street Journal

“One of the exciting new nonfiction books this summer.”—Time

Where do we find our ideals? What does it mean to live for them—and to risk dying for them? For Americans during World War I, these weren’t abstract questions. Young Radicals tells the story of five activists, intellectuals and troublemakers who agitated for freedom and equality in the hopeful years before the war, then fought to defend those values in a country pitching into violence and chaos.

Based on six years of extensive archival research, Jeremy McCarter’s dramatic narrative brings to life the exploits of Randolph Bourne, the bold social critic who strove for a dream of America that was decades ahead of its time; Max Eastman, the charismatic poet-propagandist of Greenwich Village, whose magazine The Masses fought the government for the right to oppose the war; Walter Lippmann, a boy wonder of socialism who forged a new path to seize new opportunities; Alice Paul, a suffragist leader who risked everything to win women the right to vote; and John Reed, the swashbuckling journalist and impresario who was an eyewitness to—and a key player in—the Russian Revolution.

Each of these figures sensed a moment of unprecedented promise for American life—politically, socially, culturally—and struggled to bring it about, only to see a cataclysmic war and reactionary fervor sweep it away. A century later, we are still fighting for the ideals these five championed: peace, women’s rights, economic equality, freedom of speech—all aspects of a vibrant American democracy. The story of their struggles brings new light and fresh inspiration to our own.

Praise for Young Radicals

“In this lively, if at times swooningly earnest, portrait of artists, activists, writers and intellectuals, McCarter chronicles a moment in American history when ‘socialism, progressivism, modernism, and feminism all exploded at once.’”Newsday

“A brisk pace and sympathetic portraits make for an entertaining, well-researched history of a decade marked by ebullience, hope, and pain.”Kirkus Reviews

“McCarter’s prose is engaging, moving, and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny. Recommended for young radicals today who want to understand past attempts to change the world in the face of repression.”Library Journal (starred review)


About the Author

Jeremy McCarter is the co-author with Lin-Manuel Miranda of the #1 New York Times bestseller Hamilton: The Revolution. He has written about culture and politics for New York, Newsweek, The New York Times, and Buzzfeed. He spent five years on the artistic staff of the Public Theater in New York. He studied history at Harvard and lives in Chicago.


Praise For Young Radicals: In the War for American Ideals

“Inspiring and entertaining.”—David Brooks, The New York Times

“It’s not difficult to see why [Lin-Manuel] Miranda would have been attracted to [Jeremy] McCarter as a writing partner. . . . Young Radicals is a brilliant, even inspiring book, full of whip-smart analysis that demands to be read and argued over.”The Wall Street Journal

“One of the exciting new nonfiction books this summer.”Time

“In this lively, if at times swooningly earnest, portrait of artists, activists, writers and intellectuals, McCarter chronicles a moment in American history when ‘socialism, progressivism, modernism, and feminism all exploded at once.’”Newsday

“A brisk pace and sympathetic portraits make for an entertaining, well-researched history of a decade marked by ebullience, hope, and pain.”Kirkus Reviews

“McCarter’s prose is engaging, moving, and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny. Recommended for young radicals today who want to understand past attempts to change the world in the face of repression.”Library Journal (starred review)

“In this poetic, impassioned book, written with a fierce moral urgency, Jeremy McCarter conjures up a clutch of brilliant dreamers—poets, feminists, journalists, and political rebels—whose freewheeling ideas collided with the carnage of World War I and the repressive atmosphere of the postwar Red Scare. More than just an eloquent requiem for its disillusioned young idealists, ambushed by a savage turn in history, it extracts enduring lessons of historical change that redeem their often heartbreaking suffering. Young Radicals provides just the literary antidote we need to counter the cynical forces of reaction in the Age of Trump.”—Ron Chernow, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Alexander Hamilton

“Jeremy McCarter’s gripping exploration of what drives young people toward revolutionary acts, in even the most desperate days, could not be more relevant to our current political moment. A crucial meditation on progress.”—Rebecca Traister, New York Times bestselling author of All the Single Ladies

“At an increasingly polarizing time in American history, Jeremy McCarter’s compelling work on these early twentieth-century American activists provides much-needed perspective and insight. Engaging, thought-provoking, and wonderfully intimate, this book should inspire artists, writers, activists, and anyone who values peace and justice in a time of conflict and war.”—Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and New York Times bestselling author of Just Mercy

Young Radicals is a highly dramatic, beautiful, and precise story of incredibly brave young people encountering bigotry, greed, ignorance, fear, and murderous rage, all the usual enemies of hope, decency, generosity of spirit, clarity, and courage of thought; it’s the story of their splendid refusals, their well-intended and sometimes fatal compromises, their stunning willingness to sacrifice everything for the country and the world with which they are magnificently, heartbreakingly in love. What makes it essential as well as thoroughly entertaining reading is the incontrovertible argument it makes on behalf of the persistence and power of truth, of the best impulses of our country and of humankind, even in the face of despair-inducing reversals and shattering defeats. As painful as it is to watch Jeremy McCarter’s doomed idealists lose their individual battles, it’s enormously moving and (sorry, but there’s no other word for it) inspiring to understand how, through struggle, they changed the world.”—Tony Kushner, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Angels in America and Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Lincoln