Ralph Nader

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Nader, Ralph

(nā`dər), 1934–, U.S. consumer advocate and political reformer, b. Winsted, Conn. Admitted to the bar in 1958, he practiced law in Connecticut and was a lecturer (1961–63) in history and government at the Univ. of Hartford. In 1965, Nader published Unsafe at Any Speed, a best-selling indictment of the auto industry and its poor safety standards. Largely through his influence, the U.S. Congress passed (1966) a stringent auto safety act. Nader founded (1969) the Center for the Study of Responsive Law, which exposed both corporate irresponsibility and the federal government's failure to enforce regulation of business. He later founded the Center for Auto Safety (with Consumers' UnionConsumers' Union,
product testing and rating organization founded (1936) to provide consumers with information and counsel regarding major retail goods and services. Through its monthly Consumer Reports (circulation c.4.5 million) and its Internet site (c.
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), Public Citizen, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, an umbrella for many other such groups. Briefly a presidential candidate in 1992, Nader since has run as the Green party's candidate in 1996 and 2000 and as an independent in 2004 (endorsed by the Reform party but not the Green party) and 2008. In recent years he has been a severe critic of the power of multinational corporations, as in his books The Good Fight (2004) and In Pursuit of Justice (2004), and also has focused on shareholder rights and corporate management.


See speeches and writings collected in The Ralph Nader Reader (2000); biographies by R. F. Buckhorn (1972), C. McCarry (1972), and P. C. Marcello (2004).

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Nader, Ralph

(1934–  ) lawyer, consumer advocate; born in Winsted, Conn. He graduated from Princeton (1955) and Harvard Law School (1958), then established a practice in Hartford. Convinced that automobile injuries were often due to unsafe vehicle design, he wrote Unsafe at Any Speed (1965, rev. 1972), which aroused public interest and led to passage of the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. He was chiefly responsible for passage of the 1967 Wholesome Meat Act, imposing federal standards on slaughterhouses. His professional associates, known (sometimes derisively) as "Nader's Raiders" published reports on many subjects, including baby food, insecticides, mercury poisoning, radiation dangers, pension reform, and coal-mine safety. He founded the Center for Responsive Law, Public Citizen Inc., and other groups. Idealistic and modest, he became known for spartan personal habits and long workdays. His many books include The Menace of Atomic Energy (1977) and Who's Poisoning America? (1981).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.