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America's Right Turn: From Nixon to Clinton (The American Moment) [Paperback]

William C. Berman , Stanley I. Kutler
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 14, 1998 0801858720 978-0801858727 2nd

In America's Right Turn historian William Berman examines the political, cultural, and economic contexts in which Republican conservatives operated and explores the crisis of the liberal welfare state against the background of presidential politics. Berman demonstrates the key roles played by conservative populism and the conservative backlash to the rights revolution in the collapse of Democratic hegemony. But most importantly, he shows how conservative politics became allied with conservative economics—an alliance forged with singular success during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. In this new edition, Berman discusses the initial failure of the Clinton administration to establish a viable political alternative to the GOP. Berman also shows how Clinton won reelection in l996 by moving steadily to the center, even to the extent of co-opting the Republican agenda, while defending a number of key Democratic programs.

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America's Right Turn: From Nixon to Clinton (The American Moment) + The Rise of Big Business, 1860-1920 (The American History Series)
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Editorial Reviews Review

America's fundamental shift in political persuasion--the gradual erosion of the coalition formed during the New Deal and simultaneous rise in popular conservatism ultimately embodied in Ronald Reagan, is lucidly--and, one must note, concisely--described by William C. Berman, professor emeritus of history at the University of Toronto. He begins with the presidential election of 1964, in which racial politics and economic pressures on the middle class began to emerge as central issues in American politics, and provides the factual history with commendable objectivity and a minimum of academic abstruseness. Progressing in a straightforward chronological manner, Berman hits the major political stories of the last three decades of the 20th century; although the book contains little that is startling or revelatory, Berman's portrayal of characters and events, both major and minor, add up to a substantive one-volume history. --Robert McNamara


"Berman writes in clear, unbiased prose and places large trends in context. He does especially well explaining the significance of the decline in the power of organized labor, as both cause and effect of the conservative trend... An excellent case study." -- Journal of Southern History, reviewing a previous edition or volume

Product Details

  • Series: The American Moment
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 2nd edition (April 14, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801858720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801858727
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,107,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
America's Right Turn does an outstanding job of explaining how the New Deal Coalition of Franklin Roosevelt--a powerful and pervasive force in politics for over forty years--gradually slipped away. All good students of history already know that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is what ultimately led to the unraveling of Democratic Party unity. The solid south, which for years had blindly voted for the Democratic Party, no longer shared the values of a party that tried to include African-Americans, feminists, environomentalists and Union workers. In the mid-term elections of 1966 the Republican party picked up 47 seats in the House of Representatives, which made the Republican leadership smell blood. They learned the value of promoting wedge issues: race, religion, sexual orientation, get voters to forget about their pocket books and economic circumstances when they entered the voting booth.

The author of the book is clearly liberal and doesn't try to hide that fact. If you are a strong conservative you will have a hard time accepting reading some of the book. He accuses the Republican party of racism, class warfare and being economically recklessness. He blames Jimmy Carter for the Reagan revolution not because Carter was a liberal, but rather because Carter was too conservative! Furthermore he castigates Clinton as an idealistic Democrat that morphed into an economic conservative once he inherited a Republican Congress following the 1994 election. Clinton passed symbolic legislation to please the Democratic Party (for example the V chip) while he simaltaneoulsy passed welfare reform and NAFTA, two historically conservative issues.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Why has the political environment in the United States veered away from the New Deal liberalism of the middle third of the twentieth century toward an increasingly conservative position? This fine overview offers a well-grounded historical analysis of the process of rising conservatism and related questions. It serves as an excellent introduction to an important and complex topic. William C. Berman takes on an interesting and controversial issues in recent political history, and handles it in a relatively nonbiased manner although partisans on one side or the other will probably not acknowledge this.

Berman's account, which is designed for use in an undergraduate course on twentieth century history, takes a chronological approach to the topic. Beginning with the resistance to the policies of FDR to combat the Great Depression of the 1930s, he offers chapters that deal with "The Politics of Culture and Class, 1964-1974, "The Conservative Upsurge, 1974-1976," "Jimmy Carter and the Crisis of Liberalism," "The Triumph of Conservatism, 1980," "The Reagan Revolution," "Conservatism in Decline, 1985-1992," and "The Clinton Center." This second edition was published in 2001 so there is virtually no discussion of the election of 200o and the presidency of George W. Bush.

Berman emphasizes several benchmarks in the rise of conservatism to its current dominant place in the political life of the United States. The first is the now nearly mythical stomping in the 1964 presidential election by the Democrat Lyndon Johnson of Republican Barry Goldwater, a principled conservative who would rather adhere to his ideals than compromise for the sake of political office.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it December 16, 2002
By A Customer
This book presents a good argument for why america turned right during the 60s and 70s ... I found it both interesting and informative. I would def. reccomend this book to anything interested in us history. i had to read this for a college history class and i honestly loved it
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A moderately good read March 7, 2002
By A Customer
Granted, this book was written by some professors so it will not
be the best read in the world. However, the author's do a good
job of getting the main point of the book across -- that America
has become increasingly conservative since the early 1970's.
(Nixon would have fit in well with the Democrats today and Clinton certainly would have fit very comfortably with the Republicans in the 1970's). I thought the authors were pretty clear that the Clinton years (and all the scandals) could not yet be completed or analyzed (the book was written in 1998) and hindsight is usually needed when writing about history. In any event, the authors were not kind at all to the democrats of the 1960's and pretty much imply that the democratic party and its candidates in the 1970's was a wasteland -- look for comment on the Clinton scandals in the next edition. As far as the Reagan scandals (he told his lies and had his scandals too), I would try not to confuse objective analysis with a witch-hunt (conservatives think any criticism of Reagan is unwarranted, despite *his* scandals, and liberals do the same with Clinton and Kennedy). Rather, I suggest you
read this moderately interesting, rather short book with an open mind. (We all know about Clinton's scandals, but a pretty good objective analysis of a few of Reagan's blunders and scandals is Ambrose's Rise to Globalism).
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