THE republication of Sons of the Wild Jackass, long out of print, is like the reappearance after a considerable absence of an old friend. I first read this volume of sketches of insurgent leaders in the late thirties at the University of Wisconsin while pursuing a course in recent American history under John D. Hicks. Now, thirty years later, a new generation of students can enjoy the pithy descriptions of fourteen progressives who waged an unending battle against the policies of the conservative leaders of both major political parties during the decade of the twenties. Ray Tucker has fixed a dramatic picture of the progressive leaders as they appeared on the eve of the New Deal. The book has something of a "family album" quality, as many of its subjects went on to new and greater achievements. Others, though it was not apparent at the time, were nearing the end of their political careers.
The title "Sons of the Wild Jackass" was, as explained by publisher L. C. Page in a preface, inspired by a remark made by Senator George H. Moses in an address to New England manufacturers in November 1929. The phrase was taken up by the press and created a brief furor. Editors took Moses to task for his gibe, and cartoonists delighted in depicting the name-calling contest that ensued