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Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus Paperback – March 17, 2009
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It was learning how to act: how letters got written, how doors got knocked on, how co-workers could be won over on the coffee break, how to print a bumper sticker and how to pry one off with a razor blade; how to put together a network whose force exceeded the sum of its parts by orders of magnitude; how to talk to a reporter, how to picket, and how, if need be, to infiltrate--how to make the anger boiling inside you ennobling, productive, powerful, instead of embittering.These were practical lessons that anybody in politics must pick up. For conservatives, the rough indoctrination came in 1964, and Perlstein (who is not a conservative) tells their story in detail and with panache. Before the Storm is not a history of conservative ideas (for that, read The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America, by George Nash), but a chronicle of how these ideas began to matter in politics. The victory of Ronald Reagan in 1980--to say nothing of Newt Gingrich in 1994 and George W. Bush in 2000--might not have been possible without the glorious failure of Barry Goldwater in 1964. As Perlstein writes, "You lost in 1964. But something remained after 1964: a movement. An army. An army that could lose a battle, suck it up, regroup, then live to fight a thousand battles more." --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Perlstein is a thirty year old guy, who obviously went beyond his textbooks while in school. He is one of the rare modern writers of politics and culture who treats the subject of American conservatism seriously by painstakingly recreating its march forward, led by Barry Goldwater. Goldwater's defeat in '64 was spectacular, but as Perlstein puts it, conservatives "sucked it up" and moved on.
If you are a conservative you will love the detail of the book. If you are Liberal you may begin to understand how the conservative ideology was battle tested in '64 and how it later used that huge defeat as a source of strength in the eighties and nineties. Most of all if you want to know more about the truth of the sixties, read this book. Perlstein shows that alot more than just flower power happened during that complex decade.
"Before the Storm" has much to commend it. A few of the more interesting anecdotes include:
* Clifton White's brilliant, secretive Draft Goldwater campaign and his tactical genius in out-flanking the Rockefeller/Scranton/Lodge partisans at the convention;
* the internecine struggle for the soul of the young Conservative Movement between Welch's John Birch Society and Buckley's National Review;
* the rise of the Young Americans for Freedom, which would dwarf its better known liberal counterpart, Students for a Democratic Society;
* the role of Bill Moyers, the holier-than-thou PBS personality, in pioneering a new advertising genre: the political attack ad.
* the dramatic political debut of Ronald Reagan, with his acclaimed "A Time for Choosing" speech -- broadcast nationally on election eve.
I could go on and on. "Before the Storm" is neither a paean to, nor an attack on, the Conservative Movement. Rather, Perstein's account is thorough, well researched and even handed. A MUST read for political fans of all stripes.
Perhaps most importantly, the book is amazingly even-handed. Perlstein's politics are obvious, but his observations come across as more therapeutic than enraged, almost seeming to sympathize with Goldwater as he tries to fight off the truly lunatic elements. It means that Before the Storm is a book that both conservatives and liberals can and should enjoy. Anyone seeking to understand why politics and society are what they are today should start here.
First, read BEFORE THE STORM for it's look at the origins of the modern political era. When the polls closed on Election Night '64, the Democrats had just won the Presidency for the seventh time in nine elections, and they held huge majorities in both houses of Congress. The experts debated whether the Republican party could survive, but all agreed that the Conservative movement was dead as vaudeville.
Within two years, the Republicans came roaring back in Congress and the state capitols, and the Conservatives held veto power in the Party. The GOP won five of the next six Presidential elections, captured the Senate in the eighties and both houses of Congress in the nineties, and the only Republican presidential candidates to lose were two incumbents who had shown themselves as not conservative enough for the fire-eaters. Who ordered this?
Perlstein shows how the charges that blew apart the consensus were laid. He follows the people who were determined to create a Conservative movement, and shows how they eventually succeeded in forcing their champion, Barry Goldwater, into running for the office he didn't want.
BEFORE THE STORM also shows us how crazy politics can make people. It's jaw dropping to read of Clarence Manion's efforts to make Orville Faubus into the standard bearer of Constitutional govt. Faubus arguably should have been hanged for treason!
And how many of knew that Barry Goldwater was either a totally incompetent politician, or he deliberately sabotaged his presidential effort? The story of Goldwater's '64 'campaign' is a near-perfect record of doing the wrong thing. Yet it didn't matter.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In depth analysis of the beginning of the latest rise of conservatism on the US political scene.Published 1 month ago by Robert S. Hoffman
I enjoyed this book very much. After reading Darman's "Landslide" I became interested in the politics of this period. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jason J. Simmers
I didn't know anything about Barry Goldwater other than he got totally beat by Johnson in 1964. I've also never read anything this author and found his style easy to read. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Robert Sparrenberger
A few years ago I read and thoroughly enjoyed Rick Perlstein's impressive Nixonland: America's Second Civil War and the Divisive Legacy of Richard Nixon 1965-1972 (2008). Read morePublished 2 months ago by Patrick Mc Coy
This is a superb and balanced perspective on the evolution of political conservatism in the late '50s and early '60s. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Rich
This is the first volume of Rick Perlstein's trilogy chronicling the rise the conservative movement in post-World War II America. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jim Lester