In this remarkable book, Eric Fure-Slocum charts the emergence of “growth politics” in Milwaukee over the course of the 1940s. Delving deep into local archives and newspapers, Fure-Slocum provides a detailed, closely argued study of a single Midwestern city. Yet even as Contesting the Postwar City brings Milwaukee during and immediately after World War II to life, it also illuminates a larger debate over the nature of urban life in the postwar years. Fure-Slocum contends that many commonplace assumptions about the straightforward merits of economic development that would drive urban policy not only in Milwaukee but in cities across the country in fact developed out of a contentious class politics. The triumph of this constellation of ideas (what Fure-Slocum refers to as “growth politics”) meant the defeat of a distinctive strain of working-class thought about what constituted a good and just...

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