Auhor Talk: Tula A. Connell

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Tula Connell Presents

Conservative Counterrevolution
Challenging Liberalism in 1950s Milwaukee

A forceful account of right-wing opposition to the postwar New Deal

In the 1950s, Milwaukee's strong labor movement and socialist mayor seemed to embody a dominant liberal consensus that sought to expand the New Deal. Tula A. Connell explores how business interests and political conservatives arose to undo that consensus, and how the resulting clash both shaped a city and helped redefine postwar American politics.

Connell focuses on Frank Zeidler, the city's socialist mayor. Zeidler's broad concept of the public interest at times defied even liberal expectations. At the same time, a resurgence of conservatism with roots presaging twentieth-century politics challenged his initiatives in public housing, integration, and other areas. As Connell shows, conservatives created an anti-progressive game plan that included a well-funded media and PR push; an anti-union assault essential to the larger project of delegitimizing any government action; opposition to civil rights; and support from a suburban silent majority. In the end, the campaign undermined notions of the common good essential to the New Deal order. It also sowed the seeds for grassroots conservatism's more extreme and far-reaching future success.

A forceful account of postwar urban politics, Conservative Counterrevolution reveals how historical trends often documented at the national level first played out on the ground in a great American city.

About the Author:

Tula Connell is an historian of the United States focusing on 20th century labor and social movements. An independent scholar, Connell has worked in labor communications for more than 25 years and currently is Senior Communications Officer at the Solidarity Center, an international labor rights organization. Her book, Conservative Counterrevolution: Challenging Liberalism in 1950s Milwaukee, was published in April 2016 by the University of Illinois Press. Conservative Counterrevolution is a volume in the series, “The Working Class in American History” edited by Nelson Lichtenstein et al.

Connell received her Ph.D. in American History from Georgetown University in 2011, and holds an M.A. in European History from Yale University and a B.A. in Journalism from Marquette University.
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