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Rise of the Public Authority: Statebuilding and Economic Development in Twentieth-Century America

by Gail Radford University of Chicago Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 232 pages
AU$66.00 NZ$68.70
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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In the late nineteenth century, public officials throughout the United States began to experiment with new methods of managing their local economies and meeting the infrastructure needs of a newly urban, industrial nation. And Acirc; Stymied by legal barriers, they created a new class of quasi-public agencies called public authorities. Today these entities operate at all levels of government, and range from tiny operations like the Springfield Parking Authority in Massachusetts, which runs thirteen parking lots and garages, to mammoth enterprises like the Tennessee Valley Authority, with nearly twelve billion dollars in revenues each year. In The Rise of the Public Authority, Gail Radford recounts the history of these inscrutable government corporations, examining the ways they were established and the unprecedented powers that they have exercised over the last hundred years. Radford has mapped this institutional terra incognita, giving readers a grand tour of these institutions and the way that they operate, making a substantial contribution to our understanding of these pervasive but elusive mechanisms and acirc;and their implications for American political development.


AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. The Campaign for a Federal Fleet Corporation2. The Creation of the Federal Land Banks3. Municipalities Struggle to Meet New Needs4. The Truncated Career of Autonomous Federal Agencies5. The Federal Government Promotes Public Authorities6. Public Authorities since the Second World WarEpilogue. The Future of Public AuthoritiesAppendix. Federal Corporate AgenciesNotesIndex

''Gail Radford has performed a great service here, deftly situating the first comprehensive history of this sprawling but underappreciated aspect of American governance within broader narratives of modern US history. And as she explores the histories of agencies like the Federal Land Bank and the Buffalo Sewer Authority, her prose absolutely crackles - this is a real page-turner!'' (Derek Hoff, Kansas State University)''
Gail Radford isAassociate professor of history at the University at Buffalo.