In the November 12, 2007 issue of The Nation, Penn Press series editor Thomas J. Sugrue has some interesting things to say about the late Albert Shanker, a figure of note in two new books, White Ethnic New York: Jews, Catholics, and the Shaping of Postwar Politics by Joshua M. Zeitz and Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy by Richard D. Kahlenberg. Sugrue writes:
The lead character in Woody Allen's 1973 hit Sleeper wakes up from his 200-year slumber to discover that civilization was destroyed when "a man by the name of Albert Shanker got hold of a nuclear warhead." Shanker, a lifelong socialist, leader of the American Federation of Teachers, political gadfly and tireless educational reformer, seemed an unlikely agent of apocalypse. But Sleeper's laugh line contained more than a little radioactive truth. The man named Albert Shanker did not drop the bomb on liberalism. But he was no small part of a political and intellectual Manhattan Project that exploited the fractures of New Deal and Great Society liberalism and empowered the New Right to rebuild from the rubble.
The complete article is available at TheNation.com.
Thomas J. Sugrue is coeditor of W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and the City: "The Philadelphia Negro" and Its Legacy and an editor of the Penn Press series Politics and Culture in Modern America.