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Conservatives Without Conscience [Paperback]

John W. Dean
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Conservatives Without Conscience, John Dean, who served as White House counsel under Richard Nixon and then helped to break the Watergate scandal with his testimony before the Senate, takes a vivid and analytical look at a Republican Party that has changed drastically from the conservative movement that he joined in the mid-1960s as an admirer of Senator Barry Goldwater. Listen to our interview with Dean as part of our July 13 Amazon Wire podcast (along with interviews with Garrison Keillor and Henry Rollins) to hear how he originally conceived of the book with the late Senator Goldwater, and the social science research he drew on to put together his portrait of the "conservative authoritarian." (You can subscribe to regular Wire podcasts here.) And take a look at Dean's choices for the best books to read on the American presidency in our Grownup School feature. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In his seventh book, Dean, the former Nixon legal counsel whom the FBI has called the "master manipulator" of the Watergate coverup, weighs in with a rebuke to Christian fundamentalists and other right-wing hard-liners. A self-described Goldwater conservative (indeed, Goldwater had planned to collaborate on this book before his death), he rails against the influence of social conservatives and neoconservatives within his party. Suffused with bitterness stemming from the controversies in which he has been embroiled, Dean's book paints a thin social science veneer over a litany of mostly ad hominem complaints. Purporting to show that social conservatives and neoconservatives are, on the whole, demonstrably authoritarian, bigoted, irrational and amoral, Conservatives Without Conscience offers helpful hints such as "Conservatives without conscience do not have horns and tails," and evinces a telling fascination with politicians' shady book deals. Though there is clearly much to condemn in the policies and tactics Dean deplores, assailing everyone from French political theorist Joseph de Maistre to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to the chairman of Yale University's conservative association as "Double High" social- dominance-oriented authoritarians undermines his journalistic credibility. Dean's lurid accusations may be entertaining, but they add little to the reasoned debate that Washington so sorely lacks today. (July 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* With the perspective of a former Republican political insider, and experience in the Watergate scandal when he was White House counsel to Nixon, Dean takes a sincere, well-considered look at how conservative politics in the U.S. is veering dangerously close to authoritarianism, offering a penetrating and highly disturbing portrait of many of the major players in Republican politics and power. Looking back on the development of conservative politics in the U.S., Dean notes that conservatism is regressing to its authoritarian roots. Dean draws on five decades of social science research that details the personality traits of what are called "double high authoritarians": self-righteous, mean-spirited, amoral, manipulative, bullying. He concludes that Chuck Colson, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich, and Tom DeLay are all textbook examples. Dean calls Vice-President Cheney "the architect of Bush's authoritarian policies," and deems Bush "a mental lightweight with a strong right-wing authoritarian personality." Dean maintains that conservatives without conscience have produced such a hostile, noncollegial environment in Congress that threats of resistance through filibusters have been met with threats of a "nuclear option" and that conservatives have used fearmongering about terrorist attacks to the point where the nation faces a greater threat of relinquishing its ideals of democracy. Dean appeals to conservatives to find their consciences and to all Americans to take serious heed of what is going on in the nation. Readers of all political perspectives will find this book riveting. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A penetrating and highly disturbing portrait of many of the major players in Republican politics and power ... riveting."
-Booklist, starred review

"A fierce indictment of Republican politicians ... the sheer outrage in Dean's book has power of its own."
-Chicago Tribune

About the Author

John Dean was White House legal counsel to President Nixon for a thousand days. Dean also served as chief minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee and as an associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice.

From AudioFile

In his book, which takes its name from Barry Goldwater's classic work THE CONSCIENCE OF A CONSERVATIVE, John Dean, a key figure in the Nixon Administration and longtime conservative Republican, examines the rise of authoritarian conservatism within the Republican Party, whose current aim appears to be to create a one-party country run by a narrow clique of theocrats and political ultra-conservatives. However, they are far from true conservatives, as Dean defines them. Robertson Dean's reading is solid. The reading style is neither somnolent nor ranting. But at times it seems too clinical, too unemotional. While the words speak to the author's deep-felt opinions, the narration doesn't always reflect them. R.C.G. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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