Hits From the Basement: The ‘S’ Word

The “S” Word:A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism
by John Nichols

A short, sharp, irreverent rejoinder to right-wing red-baiting.

A few months before the 2010 midterms, Newt Gingrich described the socialist infiltration of American government and media as “even more disturbing than the threats from foreign terrorists.” John Nichols offers an unapologetic retort to the return of red-baiting in American political life—arguing that socialism has a long, proud, American history. Tom Paine was enamored of early socialists, Horace Greeley employed Karl Marx as a correspondent, and Helen Keller was an avowed socialist. The “S” Word gives Americans back a crucial aspect of their past and makes a forthright case for socialist ideas today.


  • “[A] search for the legacy of our homegrown radicals.”

    Washington Post

  • “A chilling reminder of how much rich American history has been erased by shallow messaging. A crucial book.”

    – Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine and No Logo

  • “Of all the giant slayers now afoot in the great American desert, John Nichols’s sword is the sharpest.”

    – Gore Vidal

John Nichols is the Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine, a contributing writer for the Progressive and In These Times, and the associate editor of Madison, Wisconsin’s Capital Times. He’s the author of several books, including The Death and Life of American Journalism, The Genius of Impeachment and The “S” Word. Read Nichols’ blog here.

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