Winner of the Bancroft Prize 2014
A work that "deeply reconceptualizes the New Deal and raises countless provocative questions" (David Kennedy), Fear Itself changes the ground rules for our understanding of this pivotal era in American history. Ira Katznelson examines the New Deal through the lens of a pervasive, almost existential fear that gripped a world defined by the collapse of capitalism and the rise of competing dictatorships, as well as a fear created by the ruinous racial divisions in American society. Katznelson argues that American democracy was both saved and distorted by a Faustian collaboration that guarded racial segregation as it built a new national state to manage capitalism and assert global power. Fear Itself charts the creation of the modern American state and "how a belief in the common good gave way to a central government dominated by interest-group politics and obsessed with national security" (Louis Menand, The New Yorker).
Ira Katznelson is Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, and Deputy Director, Columbia World Projects. His 2013 Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time was awarded the Bancroft Prize in History and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award in Political Science. Other books include Southern Nation: Congress and White Supremacy After Reconstruction (2018, co-authored with David Bateman and John Lapinski), and Liberal Beginnings: A Republic for the Moderns (2008, co-authored with Andreas Kalyvas). His most recent book is Time Counts: Quantitative Methods for Historical Social Science (2022, co-authored with Gregory Wawro).
Professor Katznelson, a fellow of the British Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, is a former president both of the American Political Science Association and the Social Science Research Council. He earned his B.A. at Columbia College and his Ph.D. in History at the University of Cambridge, where in 2017-18, he was Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions. He also has taught at the University of Chicago and the New School for Social Research. From September 2019 through August 2021 he served as Columbia's Interim Provost.