The University of Wisconsin Press | Fall 2013 - page 15

“Richard Drake’s superb biography of Robert La Follette is a fresh,
fascinating, and highly readable account of a great figure in American
history. But it is also an important, indeed stimulating, analysis that can
instruct our era how this popular U.S. Progressive senator fromWisconsin
repeatedly and courageously stood up against his era’s reactionary and
avidly pro-war politicians.”
—Walter LaFeber, Cornell University
Robert M. La Follette (1855–1925), the Republican senator from Wisconsin, is best
known as a key architect of American Progressivism and as a fiery advocate for lib-
eral politics in the domestic sphere. But “Fighting Bob” did not immediately come
to a progressive stance on foreign affairs.
The Education of an Anti-Imperialist
, Richard Drake follows La Follette’s
growth as a critic of America’s wars and the policies that led to them. He began
his political career with conventional Republican views of the era on foreign
policy, avidly supporting the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars.
La Follette’s critique of empire emerged in 1910, during the first year of the Mexi-
can Revolution, as he began to perceive a Washington–Wall Street alliance in the
United States’ dealings with Mexico. La Follette subsequently became Congress’s
foremost critic of Woodrow Wilson, fiercely opposing United States involvement in
World War I. Denounced in the American press as the most dangerous man in the
country, he became hated and vilified by many but beloved and admired by others.
La Follette believed that financial imperialism and its necessary instrument,
militarism, caused modern wars. He contended they were twin evils that would
have ruinous consequences for the United States and its citizens in the twentieth
century and beyond.
“This book addresses big themes: republic or empire, progressive politics, freedom
and censorship in wartime, and congressional and executive foreign policymaking
powers. A vivid portrait of Robert La Follette that shows why he was such a thorn
in the side of those who sought to conduct ‘business as usual.’ ”—Susan Brewer,
author of
Why America Fights
Richard Drake
is professor of history at the University of Montana. He is the
author of
Apostles and Agitators: Italy’s Marxist Revolutionary Tradition
Aldo Moro Murder Case
among other works.
 LC: 2013015106 E
512 PP. 6 × 9 26 B/W ILLUS.
E-BOOK $29.95 S ISBN 978-0-299-29523-3
Studies in American Thought
and Culture
Paul S. Boyer, Series Editor
“There are other biographies of
Robert La Follette, obviously, but
none that probes so deeply into
the intellectual development of an
American anti-imperialist. This is a
very important piece of scholarship
that deserves a wide reading.”
—Lloyd Gardner, author of
Three Kings:
The Rise of an American Empire in the
Middle East after World War II
Of re l at ed int e re s t
Dean A. Strang
“A probing, sensitive account. Dean A.
Strang, himself a skillful defense attorney,
has exposed American racism at its worst,
and perversion and corruption of the legal
system at its best.”—Stanley Kutler, author
Wars of Watergate
LC: 2012032689 HV 286 PP. 6 × 9
E-BOOK $19.95 T ISBN 978-0-299-29393-2
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