Yale Professor Wins Award for Acclaimed Book on Populism

Robert Johnston, an associate professor in the history and American studies departments at Yale, has received the President’s Book Award from the Social Science History Association for his forthcoming work, “The Radical Middle Class: Populist Democracy and the Question of Capitalism in the Progressive Era, Portland, Oregon” (Princeton University Press, 2003).

The award carries a prize of $1,000 and is given for “an especially meritorious first work by a beginning scholar” judged on “scholarly significance, interdisciplinary reach, and methodological innovativeness.”

“This is a wonderful honor for Robert and his scholarship, and we all congratulate him on this magnificent achievement,” said Jon Butler, chair of the history department at Yale.

“ ‘The Radical Middle Class’ seeks to change the way we think about the American middle class,” says Johnston of his book. “For far too long, intellectuals have caricatured the middle class as boring if not dangerous, conservative if not reactionary. In contrast, the book shows that middling Americans have a long populist democratic heritage, stretching from the Anti-Federalists to Ralph Nader, that we should both discover and celebrate. Through an investigation of politics and economic life in early twentieth-century Portland, Oregon, I explore a variety of different manifestations of middle-class radicalism, including direct democracy and more expansive electoral reforms, petit bourgeois anti-capitalism, and the revolt against experts arising out of the crusade against compulsory smallpox vaccination.”

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Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345