Barry Goldwater was probably the most important loser in the history of American presidential elections. Although Lyndon Baines Johnson easily defeated him in the 1964 race, Goldwater fundamentally reshaped politics in the United States. As biographer Robert Alan Goldberg shows, Goldwater helped Republicans cut their demographic and financial ties to the Northeast and pushed their influence to the South and West. More important, however, he ushered in the modern conservative movement as a genuine political force.
Goldberg, a professor of history at the University of Utah, writes as a political liberal who holds deep sympathies for Goldwater. During his 1964 campaign, a popular Goldwater slogan was: "In your heart, you know he's right." Goldberg isn't trying to convince readers of this, but it's hard to come away from his book without thinking he still could teach his country a thing or two. --John J. Miller