Praise for Unreasonable Men

“As Michael Wolraich argues in his sharp, streamlined new book, Unreasonable Men, it was ‘the greatest period of political change in American history.’...Wol­raich is at his lucid best in explaining the parliamentary maneuvers by which [House Speaker ‘Uncle Joe’] Cannon was outsmarted in 1910...Unreasonable Men invites comparison with another book on the same era, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit...If I had to choose between them, I would go with Unreasonable Men.

The Washington Post

“From 1904-1912, the American political system underwent enormous growing pains, and political writer Wolraich (Blowing Smoke) gives this decade an exhaustive, detailed examination, from the first ‘creeping sense’ of a new political body into a ‘war with only two sides’ that birthed America’s enduring bipartisan identities...Wolraich probes this historic moment in light of an American political reawakening to the idea of the interests of the citizens as separate from, and potentially victim to, the interests of corporations and capital holders; it is a mighty and relevant insight into the cyclical nature of history.”

Publishers Weekly

“In his engaging new book, Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics, Michael Wolraich provides a meticulously researched look into the power struggle that created the progressive movement and changed the history of America.”

National Memo

Unreasonable Men offers a good, hopeful read for these politically slow early summer days. And, yes, there once were progressive Republicans.”


“In Unreasonable Men, Michael Wolraich has tapped into an historical goldmine: that turn of the century period when insurgent Republicans drove the progressive movement in America. With impressive documentation, Wolraich expands our understanding of the very different and decidedly more conservative Republican Party of today.”

Thomas B. Edsall, Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

Unreasonable Men recounts the nation’s dramatic transformation as political focus shifted from promoting the interests of the wealthiest Americans to protecting its everyday citizens. Wolraich's engaging narrative recaptures the excitement and suspense of the nation’s turn from conservatism to progressivism. For a nation facing a similar crisis over the role of government today, this book offers inspiration and illustrates the power of fearless leaders committed to real change for the betterment of all.”

Nancy C. Unger, Professor of History at Santa Clara University and author of Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer

“Michael Wolraich has that special ability to be immersed in the present and bring its insights to the past while still accepting, understanding it on its own terms. Here he brings to life the century old battle where progressive reformism emerged paradoxically out of a civil war within the GOP. A must read.”

Josh Marshall, Editor and Publisher of Talking Points Memo, Polk Award winner

“This is a fascinating, thoroughly readable account of the rise of Progressivism in America, with a detailed portrait of the rivalry between the two giants of that movement, Teddy Roosevelt and Fighting Bob La Follette. It’s a great addition to the history of the period, and it sheds some crucial light on our current moment.”

Matthew Rothschild, senior editor at The Progressive

Unreasonable Men is a shrewd and vividly written account of a conflict that defined the politics of the Progressive Era. It is also a timely story: the same argument between foes and defenders of corporate power which raged a century ago can be heard in our partisan battles today.”

Michael Kazin, editor of Dissent, Professor of History at Georgetown University, author of American Dreamers: How the Left Shaped a Nation