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Cowboy Conservatism: Texas and the Rise of the Modern Right (New Directions In Southern History) Hardcover – June 11, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cunningham, a native of Texas and a teacher at Texas Tech, chronicles the pivotal years between the assassination of JFK and Ronald Reagan's ascension to power in the '80s, which coincided with the swing of his state from blue to red. Texas has been a national political bellwether and was, by 1963 (when liberal LBJ carried the state in a landslide), a bastion of the growing conservative movement. By 1980, the state had adopted Reagan as a native son and moved into the Republican camp. Cunningham attributes some of the shift to postwar urbanization and the transformation of what had been a largely agrarian state into "the most vibrant economy in the country," oil rich and home to leading companies. Texas has a "unique political heritage notable for its colorful personalities, its conservative commitment to tradition and loyalty," libertarian values, racial conflicts, and a history that includes the Alamo. In a book that should interest students of political history, Cunningham deftly weaves these threads into the tapestry of national politics. "The rise of modern Texas conservatism not only coincided with a similar ascendancy nationwide, but also gave the movement shape and momentum." Photos.
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"Cunningham masterfully reconstructs how the Republican Party in Texas became a majority... in a state long dominated by Democrats. Cowboy Conservatism should be placed high on the 'must read' list for anyone seriously interested in recent American politics."
          - Donald T. Critchlow, author of The Conservative Ascendancy

"Cowboy Conservatism is a careful study that avoids polemics and oversimplifications while still presenting a clear, focused argument. Cunningham's postmodern analysis of public image as a force for political change offers an insightful challenge to the existing paradigm of conservative studies - and one that many will no doubt find persuasive."
          - Reviews in American History

"Cunningham provides a vivid, informative, and frequently insightful chronicle of Texas politics between 1963 and 1980."
         - Journal of American History

"Cunningham skillfully explains a timeline for change that makes sense and contributes to our understanding of this political transformation."
         - Journal of Southern History

"Cowboy Conservatism is an illuminating history of modern conservatism in the state of Texas ... It is a non-partisan, level evaluation and study about the rise of modern conservatism in the United States. It does what books on history should do. Tell a story."
         - New York Journal of Books

"Cunningham writes with an easy and nonacademic gusto befitting a literary hand from the new national center of conservatism."
         - The Washington Times

"Cunningham deftly weaves these threads into the tapestry of national politics."
         - Publishers Weekly

"This book is easy to read and appropriate for anyone who likes political histories."
         - Choice

"Cowboy Conservatism stands as a valuable resource, and its well-documented details are its strengths."
         - Austin American-Statesman

"Anyone who has ever wondered why once loyally Democratic Texas ... has become a Republican and conservative stronghold today, will profit from reading this history."
          - Voice of Reason

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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions In Southern History
  • Hardcover: 293 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky (June 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813125766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813125763
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sean P. Cunningham is Associate Professor of History at Texas Tech University. He holds a Ph.D. in Modern American History from the University of Florida and teaches broadly in twentieth-century U.S. history, while specializing in the history of post-1945 American political culture. His geographic emphasis is on the American Sunbelt, Texas in particular. His first book, Cowboy Conservatism: Texas and the Rise of the Modern Right, was published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2010. His second book, American Politics in the Postwar Sunbelt: Conservative Growth in a Battleground Region, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014.

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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bob Adams on July 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When you consider the rise of modern political conservatism, you must look at the transformation of Texas from a Democratic stronghold to a linch-pin of the Republican surge in the late 20th century. Cunningham does a remarkable job of dissecting this phenomenon. There is no doubt in my mind that Sean Cunningham is going to be a major force in US Political History. This first book is nothing short of a triumph.
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