Illiberal Reformers

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Princeton University Press

Latest Reviews

One of Bloomberg View’s Great History Books of 2016.
Stephen L. Carter, Dec 27, 2016

Leslie Jones, "Enlightened Despots"
The Quarterly ReviewJune 27, 2017.

James W. Trent, Journal of American History 104(1): 224-25.  June 1, 2017.

Braham Dabscheck, "Economics as Hate"
Economic & Labour Relations Review: 1-8.
Apr 24, 2017

George F. Will "The Liberals Who Loved Eugenics" The Washington Post, 
Mar 8, 2017

Adam Quinn, "Reforming History: Contemporary Scholarship on the Progressive Era" H-Net Book Channel
Mar 2017.

John ChalbergClaremont Review of
 Feb 6, 2017.

Alexander Cartwright, Libertarian
8(2), Feb 2017

Samuel Gregg, "Shedding Light on
Progressivism's Dark Side,"
Public Discourse, Jan 27, 2017

William Schmabra, "About What
Happened: A Take on Illiberal Reformers,"
Hudson InstituteDec 15, 2016

Patrick Newman, Independent Review
21(3) Winter 2017

D. Eric Schansberg, "Review Essay:
Exposing the Paradoxes of Progressivism."
Markets & Morality 9(2): 353-366.
Fall 2016

Daniel Platt, Brown University,
Journal of Cultural Economy 10(7),

Dec 1, 2016 

Wesley Bishop, Labor/Le Travail

78: 354-56.  Fall 2016

Desmond King, "Illiberalism Unbound
America's Progressive Legacy" 
Perspectives on Politics 14(3): 788-792.
Sept 2016.

Bradley Hart, Population and Development Review 42(3): 565–575, Sept 2016 

Deirdre McCloskey, "The Secret History of the Minimum Wage,"  Reason,  July 2016

Matthew Harwood, ACLU, "Progressive Eugenics" American ConservativeJune 13, 2016

Pierre Lemieux, "Progressivism's Tainted Label," RegulationSummer 2016

Steven F. Hayward, Pepperdine University, "Regressive Progressives" National Review
June 13, 2016

J. Daniel Hammond,, Economic History Association, July 1, 2016

Robert Whaples, Choice, May 2016

"Off the Shelf," Harvard Magazine,
July-August 201

Reviews and other press

"No Justice for the Weak"
David Oshinsky,
New York Times Book Review.
Front Page.
Sunday March 20, 2016


"The Progressive History of Eugenics"
Amity Shlaes, Wall Street Journal
ebruary 26, 2016

WSJ The Progressive History of Eugenics

"The Dark History of Liberal Reform" Malcolm Harris, The New Republic, January 21, 2016 

TNR The Dark History of Liberal Reform

Capsule Review of Illiberal Reformers. Walter Russell Meade, Foreign Affairs, 
May/June 2016.

Foreign Affairs logo

"Book Recommendation" 
David Bernstein, The Washington Post.
February 4, 2016

"Progressive and Racist: Woodrow Wilson Wasn't Alone" 
Virginia Postrel Bloomberg View,  December 8, 2015

"Why Malthus is Still Wrong" Michael Shermer, Scientific AmericanMay 1, 2016

"Illiberal Reformers on Eugenics and the Progressives"
Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
Jan 28, 2016

Arnold Kling, "Dismal Race "Scientists" Library of Economics and Liberty. May 2, 2016

UPDATE: Arnold Kling 2016 Books of the year
Illiberal Reformers

"Progressives & Eugenics: The Case of Justice Brandeis"Damon Root,
April 12, 2016

"Progressive Racism"
Herbert Hovenkamp, The New Rambler
Feb 10, 2016.


Tim interviewed by Ross Kaminsky
iheart.radioMay 10, 2017
 (26 minutes)

Princeton Alumni Weekly interviews Tim and profiles Illiberal Reformers, "Racism of the Progressive Era."
March 1, 2007

Princeton University James Madison Program symposium on Illiberal Reformers,
An America's Founding and Future Lecture
Dec 7, 2016 (93 minutes)

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Russ Roberts interviews Tim on
EconTalk Dec 5, 2016 (68 minutes)

Update: Illiberal Reformers Favorite Econtalk Podcasts of 2016


Glenn Loury interviews Tim on 
The Glenn

May 5, 2016 (61 minutes)

Glenn and Tim on

"Wisconsin Progressives Had Regressive Beliefs" Wisconsin Interest 
Fall 2016, pp. 18-23.

"Minimum Wages Were First Designed to Cut Rungs off the Bottom of the Economic Ladder" 
Thomas C. Leonard, Los Angeles Times
April 5, 2016

Tim interviewed by Matt Harwood, ACLU, "The Dark Heart of Progressivism" 
American Conservative, Sept 29, 2016

Woodrow Wilson

Free Thoughts podcast (60 minutes)
on Illiberal Reformers with hosts Trevor Burrus and Aaron Ross Powell.
March 11, 2016

Should the Minimum Wage Be Raised? Experts pick sides.
WalletHub, August 10, 2016

Tim i
nterviewed on Illiberal Reformers by host Larry Rifkin
Rifkinradio.comMarch 23, 2016
(15 minutes) 

The Bookmonger with John Miller, Ricochet Network
February 22, 2016


illiberal cover




Jeffrey Tucker
Foundation for Economic Education
February 8, 2016

"Shining a light on one of the high court’s darkest moments"
Charles LaneThe Washington PostFebruary 17, 2016

"Salaire minimum, emploi minimum"
 Luc de Barochez, L'Opinion 
February 23, 2016

"Li chiamavano progressisti"
Alberto Mingardi, llSole24ore
March 13, 2016



 "Mythologies that arise around individuals, groups, and ideas of the past tend to mask many warts. Thomas Leonard's excellent book about American economics during the Progressive Era shows how progressives' efforts to champion reform drew on a vision of scientific development that would institutionalize the eugenic creed and, in the process, do great violence to the liberal project that had been at the heart of the American system. Illiberal Reformers provides a powerful lesson in the tensions that surround ideals of social progress, scientific expertise, and the democratic system."
–Steven G. Medema, University of Colorado, Denver

"Economists like to think of their ancestors as heroic seekers of truth, each generation, as Newton suggested, standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before. Thomas Leonard demonstrates clearly that the story of economics in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America was far more complex--and more interesting. He shows how the economists of that era combined their passion for social reform with religion, eugenics, and evolution theory in ways that seem incredible today. This book is an eye-opener."
–Craufurd Goodwin, James B. Duke Professor of Economics Emeritus, Duke University

"This untold story of how Progressive Era activists helped construct the extensive role of government in the economy sheds light on today's technocratic dilemmas. Which decisions need to be left to experts, the 'social engineers,' and which require democratic participation? Thomas Leonard's book demonstrates that during the Progressive Era this question was resolved only by combining democratic reform with the exclusion of women, African Americans, immigrants, and disabled people as full members of society. It underlines the fact that the tension between 'expert' economic administration and individual liberties remains at the heart of current political debates."
–Diane Coyle, author of GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History

"Illiberal Reformers makes a substantial contribution to the much contested history of U.S. progressivism by providing fascinating new evidence of what Leonard terms its 'dark side.' This book's rich narrative will amply reward readers interested in the discrete histories of social science, science, politics, culture, industrial relations, and general U.S. history, and offers a wealth of new material on discrimination based on gender, race, and class."
–Mary O. Furner, University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Glenn and Tim on
  • WSJ The Progressive History of Eugenics
  • TNR The Dark History of Liberal Reform
  • New York Times Book Review March 20 2016.jpg
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • tim_leonard.png
  • tim_leonard_on_econtalk.png
  • Foreign Affairs logo
  • Tim Leonard photo from PU James Madison Symposium