History and Historiography

NEW BOOK: The Dark Side of FDR’s Golden Legacy…

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Coming October 10, 2023

Hardcover & eBook

Spying on citizens.

Censoring critics.

Imprisoning minorities.

These are the acts of dictators, not American presidents….

Or are they?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s legacy enjoys regular acclaim from historians, politicians, and educators. Lauded for his New Deal policies, leadership as a wartime president, cozy fireside chats, and groundbreaking support of the “forgotten man,” FDR, we have been told, is worthy of the same praise as men like Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln.

But is that true? Does the father of today’s welfare state really deserve such adulation?

The New Deal’s War on the Bill of Rights: The Untold Story of FDR’s Concentration Camps, Censorship, and Mass Surveillance unveils a much different portrait than the standard orthodoxy found in today’s historical studies. Historian and distinguished professor emeritus David T. Beito reveals the many abuses of power and human rights violations that defined Roosevelt’s time in office, offering much-needed sobriety to the historical literature surrounding FDR. It’s about time someone brought the dark side of his administration to light….

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About the Author

David T. Beito is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Professor Emeritus at the University of Alabama. He received his PhD in history at the University of Wisconsin and is the author of T. R. M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, and Civil Rights Pioneer (with Linda Royster Beito) and From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1967. He is also co-editor of The Voluntary City: Choice, Community and Civil Society and the forthcoming Rose Lane Says: Thoughts on Liberty and Equality, 1942-1945.

Praise for The New Deal’s War on the Bill of Rights

“This book is not mere history; it is an exposé. You won’t know which is more shocking: the lengths to which FDR and New Dealers like Senators (and future Supreme Court justices) Hugo Black and Sherman Minton went to suppress freedom of speech, privacy, and civil rights; or the degree to which these efforts have been concealed by pro-FDR and New Deal propagandists. While the repressive measures taken by FDR and his New Dealers against their political opponents resemble tactics favored by progressives today, Beito shows that the ‘good old days’ were in some respects even worse. But he also usefully reminds us that resistance to these measures was bipartisan. This is a story that all Americans should know—especially anyone who is headed to college or law school. I will be strongly recommending it to the students in my class on constitutional rights and liberties.”
Randy E. Barnett, Patrick Hotung Professor of Constitutional Law, Georgetown University Law Center; faculty director, Georgetown Center for the Constitution

“All historians who have written about Franklin Roosevelt need to read David Beito’s book and, in almost all cases, revise what they said. The New Deal’s War on the Bill of Rights illuminates Roosevelt’s desire for power and his efforts to punish those who tried to thwart him.”
Burt Folsom, professor of history emeritus, Hillsdale College; author of New Deal or Raw Deal?

“For all his accomplishments, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had little tolerance for critics and not much respect for the Bill of Rights. David T. Beito’s useful survey of the partially unknown dark side of the New Deal reveals the surprising variety of repressive measures that FDR and his supporters employed—not always successfully—to quash those who opposed his administration. It’s a sobering story that reminds us of how precarious our civil liberties have always been.”
Ellen Schrecker, professor emerita, Yeshiva University; author of Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America

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