From start to finish, Lansing connects the Nonpartisan League’s cause to the travail and promise of democracy in contemporary America. Prodigiously researched and passionately argued, Insurgent Democracy could hardly be more relevant to the current political conversation.
Michael Lansing...has produced a well-researched and elegantly written chronicle of the NPL...focusing his keen gaze on how the organization created a rural insurgency dedicated to the proposition of participatory democracy. Aiming his lens at contemporary American politics with its ideological divisions, rapacious capitalism, and growing economic inequality, Lansing’s book also serves as a platform for how such a politics might be achieved again.
Lansing’s Insurgent Democracy is a product of different times and of recent developments in historical scholarship. Impressively researched, it ranges over a full catalog of concepts and issues of current academic interest, including transnationalism, women’s activism, historical memory, the radical middle class, movement culture, election laws, participatory democracy, citizen empowerment, and moral economy. . . . It provides important new perspectives on a remarkable movement and should stimulate further work.
The strength of Insurgent Democracy comes from Lansing’s impressive use of primary sources to bring the NPL’s story back to life. His ability to connect American and Canadian history adds a dimension rarely achieved in other works.
Written at a time when populisms of the right have decimated that liberalism, Lansing’s story invites fresh conversations about the current state of American politics.
It is meticulously researched, accurate and workmanlike, insightful, and smoothly written. For anyone wishing to learn about a little knownchapter in early 20th-century North American agrarian politics, this book is very good.
“The history of agricultural radicalism in the US (or even the political history of farmers, for that matter) usually ends with the demise of the Populists in the 1890s. Lansing, however, provides a much-needed corrective in this book charting the history of the eponymous North Dakota-born farmers’ organization, formed in 1915, that spread across agricultural states from Wisconsin to Washington, and even into Canada. . . . Highly recommended.”
Lansing’s history of the Nonpartisan League (NPL) provides an excellent account of its successes and eventual demise...
The farmers of the Nonpartisan League unleashed an anti-corporate insurgency about which most of us know too little. Yet, their democratic experiments and their pursuit of alternative economic models offer invaluable insights. Lansing tells their remarkable story with the care and passion that it deserves.
Insurgent Democracy is beautifully written, deeply researched, and compellingly argued. Lansing’s graceful prose and flowing narrative will capture the attention and imagination of a wide variety of readers, including historians, political scientists, and activists. This book will be one of the most important rural, western, and American political histories to emerge for some time.
Lansing takes us back to a time when ordinary people fought to participate fully in democratic institutions and believed adamantly in a marketplace that would serve all people. They were engaged, imaginative, and courageous. Lansing also reminds us that it is not too late to demand the same.