Illiberal Reformers tells two stories: one is of the progressive social scientists who demoted laissez-faire and raised up the modern administrative state; another is of the racialist and eugenic ambitions of these same social scientists, chiefly the new economists who rose to influence late in the nineteenth century. Included among these were Richard T. Ely, John R. Commons, Simon Patten, Irving Fisher, and Thorstein Veblen. Thomas C. Leonard insists that although they may be obscure to contemporary readers, they matter, “because they prevailed” (xiii). The progressives “fashioned the new sciences of society, founded the modern American university, invented the think tank, and created the American administrative state, institutions still at the center of American public life” (xiii). In doing so, these progressives proved entirely too certain of their own disinterestedness, succumbed to pseudoscientific prejudice against immigrants, women, and African Americans, and...

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