BOOK BEAT: 'The Progressive Revolution'
August 13th, 2009 by Clark Humphrey

book coverI really wanted to like The Progressive Revolution, ex-Clinton aide Michael Lux’s breezy review of liberal thought and action from the Revolutionary War days to today.

Or rather, to some time early last autumn.

That’s the problem. For reasons known only to publisher John Wiley & Sons, Lux’s book had an official publication date of Jan. 17, 2009. As Lux admits toward the book’s end, “I’m writing these words without knowing the outcome of the 2008 election, and you are reading this with the knowledge of how it came out.”

If you’re putting out a bigtime hardcover treatise about American progressivism, and you leave out that movement’s most recent history-changing event, you’ve got a product that’s obsolete even before it’s for sale. Throughout, Lux refers to George W. Bush’s administration in the present tense, and wonders out loud when the lefties will ever regain any influence in the federal sphere.

The bulk of Lux’s work, the historical stuff, is fine. It’s a quick and easy read, albeit incomplete. It reassures readers who suffered through all the Bush-era nonsense that, yes, progs really are Americans—indeed, that “the best in America” is progressives’ doing. Tom Paine and Thomas Jefferson, the long drives for race and gender equality, the labor movement, the environmental movement—whenever and wherever Americans got anything right, the progressives got it done and the conservatives fought like hell to stop it.

Had The Progressive Revolution come out at the start of the 2008 Presidential season, it might have been a building block toward an Obama/netroots philosophy of pride in progress. As for now, maybe Lux will bring it up to date for a paperback edition.

Strangely enough, Wiley did bother to include a copyright-page “Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty” more appropriate for the company’s computer books:

“While the publisher and the author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.”

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