Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR

Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR

Dean J. Kotlowski
Distribution: World
Publication date: 01/02/2015
Format: Hardback 25 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01468-9
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In this major biography of an important politician and statesman, Dean Kotlowski presents the life of Paul V. McNutt, a great understudied figure in the era of FDR. McNutt was governor of Indiana, high commissioner to the Philippines (while serving he helped 1,300 Jews flee Nazi Germany for Manila), head of the WWII Federal Security Agency, and would-be presidential candidate. Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR explores McNutt’s life, his era, and his relationship with Franklin Roosevelt. It sheds light on the expansion of executive power at the state level during the Great Depression, the theory and practice of liberalism as federal administrators understood it in the 1930s and 1940s, the mobilization of the American home front during World War II, and the internal dynamics of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. McNutt’s life underscores the challenges and changes Americans faced during an age of economic depression, global conflict, and decolonialization.

Author Bio

Dean J. Kotlowski is Professor of History at Salisbury University in Maryland, author of Nixon's Civil Rights: Politics, Principle, and Policy, and editor of The European Union: From Jean Monnet to the Euro.


“Kotlowski works in multiple contexts ranging from Indiana history to the development of liberalism in America to internal presidential politics to America's colonial empire, but he also has a feel for McNutt the man. He situates the story within the best recent historiography and makes a good case for exploring FDR from the margins while focusing on McNutt.”
 — Allan M. Winkler, author of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Making of Modern America

“Paul McNutt was one of the New Deal era’s most activist governors. His determined leadership brought change in a state reluctant to change and placed him on the national stage as a presidential contender. Dean Kotlowski’s superbly researched biography brings new understanding to McNutt’s personal and political life and makes for absorbing reading.”
 — James H. Madison, author of Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana

“Paul V. McNutt was famous in the New Deal era and is now forgotten. Dean J. Kotlowski brings McNutt back to life in this engaging, well-researched and readable biography. A must for anyone interested in FDR and his times.”
 — Lewis L. Gould, author of The Republicans: A History of the Grand Old Party

“This massively researched and well-written biography finally remedies the surprising absence of a high quality scholarly work on Paul V. McNutt. Dean Kotlowski's definitive study clearly demonstrates McNutt's significance as a politician, colonial administrator, and federal agency chief in the 1930s and 1940s and is very revealing on the strengths and weaknesses of his personal character. In illuminating McNutt's career in such diverse areas of mid-twentieth century politics and government, this masterly volume should become essential reading for scholars interested in the Age of Roosevelt.”
 — Iwan Morgan, author of The Age of Deficits: Presidents and Unbalanced Budgets from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush

“Dean Kotlowski has written an intriguing tale of ambition and statesmanship that enriches our understanding of the New Deal. Gracefully written and thoroughly researched, Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR takes us through McNutt's reign as governor of Indiana to his 1940 campaign for the White House—a quest that is dramatically thwarted by the larger than life president he served—to his key role in upholding the New Deal causes of economic and international security during and after the Second World War. Along the way, the author examines a gifted Hoosier's critical supporting role in two of the most important dramas of American history—the rise of the welfare state and the expansion of the American empire. Scholars and students of history will appreciate this fresh and probing look at Franklin Roosevelt's path-breaking leadership through the eyes of a loyal subordinate and rival for power.”
 — Sidney M. Milkis, University of Virginia

“In this rich book, Dean Kotlowski provides not only the definitive and long-overdue biography of Indiana’s Paul McNutt, an important but now largely-overlooked politician and administrator of the 1930s and 1940s, but he also nicely illuminates the era and its politics. Deeply-researched, well-written, and persuasively-argued, this study adds impressively to the historiography of the age of Roosevelt.”
 — John W. Jeffries, author of Wartime America: The World War II Home Front

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction: A Man, an Era, and a President
1. "I See... a Great Future" (1891-1913)
2. New Departures, Old Haunts (1913-1925)
3. Triumph and Tragedy (1925-1926)
4. The Legion and Leadership (1926-1928)
5. National Vistas, State Elections (1929-1932)
6. A New Deal for Indiana (1933-1934)
7. "Hoosier Hitler" (1935-1936)
8. Breaking Away (1937-1938)
9. Humanitarian--and Home (1937-1939)
10. Paul V. and Franklin D. (1939-1940)
11. Ambition Frustrated (1940)
12. Dimensions of Security (1939-1945)
13. Mobilizing Manpower (1942-1945)
14. Returning to the Philippines (1945-1947)
15. Fading Away (1947-1955)

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