Politician, evangelist, and reformer William Jennings Bryan
was the most popular public speaker
of his time. In this acclaimed biography–the first major reconsideration of Bryan’s life in forty years–award-winning historian Michael Kazin illuminates his astonishing career and the richly diverse and volatile landscape of religion and politics in which he rose to fame. Kazin vividly re-creates Bryan’s tremendous appeal, showing how he won a passionate following among both rural and urban Americans, who saw in him not only the practical vision of a reform politician but also the righteousness of a pastor. Bryan did more than anyone to transform the Democratic Party
from a bulwark of laissez-faire to the citadel of liberalism we identify with Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1896
, and 1908
, Bryan was nominated for president, and though he fell short each time, his legacy–a subject of great debate after his death–remains monumental. This nuanced and brilliantly crafted portrait restores Bryan to an esteemed place in American history.
William Jennings Bryan was considered one of the most brilliant orators of his era, running three times for president as nominee of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party formed around Andrew Jackson in 1828 as the party representing the frontier and the common man.