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Goldwater: The Man Who Made A Revolution Hardcover – June 13, 1995


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Conservatives in the United States frequently celebrate the Reagan revolution in the 1980s. Yet, as Lee Edwards shows in this definitive biography, Reagan might never have made it to the White House if Barry Goldwater had not won the Republican nomination for president in 1964. Goldwater lost to President Johnson by a wide margin that year, but he fundamentally reshaped the GOP in the process.

The scrappy Arizona senator is best known for his raw, Western-style conservatism that featured strong libertarian leanings and a devil-may-care wit. When he retired after serving six terms, Washington, D.C., suddenly became a less interesting place. Edwards writes as a sympathizer, but also offers a nuanced understanding of the man who famously declared, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.... Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!" --John J. Miller --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Hang in long enough and rehabilitation is virtually assured?witness Nixon?so one wonders at the author's dismay that Goldwater, whose 1964 presidential campaign motto, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," alarmed liberals, has now become their "favorite conservative." For the first 400 pages, Edwards, who teaches politics at Catholic University of America, finds no wrong in the former Republican senator from Arizona?well, only his jealousy of Reagan?and proposes that as standard-bearer he "cast a brilliant lasting light." Although, as a presidential candidate, Goldwater carried only six states, Edwards makes the Johnson-Goldwater contest the centerpiece of his tedious book. Ultimately, it's the character of the 86-year-old senator in retirement that Edwards finds troubling: Goldwater's repudiation of the Moral Majority and his pro-choice and pro-gay rights stands. Has the senator been influenced by his new wife, Susan, a liberal 31 years his junior? Or by his grandson, an HIV-positive gay man, or by his lesbian grandniece? Edwards offers no opinion, an odd restraint in a book whose objective clearly is to advance a conservative agenda. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 572 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Books; 1st edition (June 13, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895264714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895264718
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,730,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David Darlington on December 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
Lee Edwards' biography of Barry Goldwater is obviously sympathetic, but the scholarship is still quite solid. Edwards' sources are strong and diverse: interviews, oral histories, books, manuscripts, government documents, personal papers, etc. Edwards uses particularly well Goldwater's two autobiographies: 1979's With No Apologies and 1988's Goldwater (with Jack Casserly). Edwards dives into these books, comparing and contrasting, and comes up with some great insights.
Edwards is obviously a conservative and Goldwater sympathizer, but that doesn't detract from the book significantly. Two small areas where it does: (1) his treatment of the booing of Nelson Rockefeller at the GOP convetion is *very* confusing. He tries to say how Goldwater is not to blame, but ends up ruining the whole narrative. I actually had to consult Theodore White's "Making of the President, 1964" to figure out what really happened. (2) Some of his terms might be considered offensive (ie. Edwards has harsh words for homosexuals). In general, however, Edwards stays well away from mushy admiration for Goldwater and the other extreme, outright hatred, which you might get from some liberals. The result is a sympathetic, but honest and comprehensive account of Goldwater's life, and an effort to put his life into some overall framework.
(Addendum) 1/14/2002. The recent publication of Rick Perlstein's "Before the Storm" gives Goldwater readers an absolutely unbiased history of Goldwater and the conservative movement. If Edwards is a bit too partisan for you, I suggest that one instead.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
Lee Edwards has written a book that is not only a biography of Goldwater but is also a history of the conservative revolution that he created beginning in the late 1950s. Edwards traces Goldwater's political rise in Arizona, his rise in the US Senate as America's leading conservative in the early 1960s his presidential campaign and loss to Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and his work afterwards to maintain and expand the conservative movement he helped create. Edwards traces the links between Goldwater's activities in the 1960s and the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s showing how Goldwater brought many leading conservatives into the ranks of the Republican party. Regardless of your political affiliation this is a great book, and if you want to understand where the Republicans of today come read this book to find out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jose Lopez on November 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
Lee Edwards has done a Scholarly look into Barry Morris Goldwater. I very Much like Mr.Goldwater Aka Mr.Conservative's Ideas Circa 1964 and before that, I certainly Don't like the Man's Ideas After that, Whether it's his stance On those serving in the Miltary who happen to like the samesex to Abortion(His wife's Involvment with Planned Parenthood) and I certainly Don't like His Jealousy of Reagan whatever the reason. Many of these things came to light in this book and how Goldwater would Flip Flop,His Double Standard regarding Spiro Agnew(His Friend) and Nixon(He never got close to Nixon and called him A Liar), To His Support Of Everybody Republican No Matter if they were Eastern Elitist Liberals(Rockerfeller) to His Support Of Ford Over Reagan.From Conservative Staunch Anti-Communist(My sort of thing) to Radical Libertarian(Libertarianism is Irrevelant for me).
These Flaws like everyone who has flaws should not deter any fellow Conservative From Reading the book but Beware anyone who Likes A Conservative when they are Liberal those are the Worst Type Of Conservatives.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1962 I was a sophomore in high school. This was also the year I became aware of politics, economics, and social issues. I soon became an ardent supporter of Barry Goldwater, so much so that my nickname my last two years of high school was "Barry." When I went to college in the fall of 1964 less than two months before the Presidential elections, I quickly became radicalized. I abandoned my support for Goldwater and before long found Lyndon Johnson too conservative for my tastes. Through my college and grad school years I thought of myself as a member of the New Left. Shortly after I earned my graduate degree and began teaching philosophy at the college level I became disillusioned with politics in particular and the civil government in general and became a self-styled anarchist. Eventually I matured and when I did I found myself most comfortable on the far reaches of the political right. I had come full circle.

Needless to say, I was happy when I received Lee Edward's "Goldwater" as a gift. I read it cover to cover and came to appreciate more than ever a man whom I had once idolized. Not only is this book of 470 pages of text a comprehensive study of his life, from his youth to his eighty-fifth year, but it thoroughly discusses his views (the basis for them, how they developed, how they changed) and as well as many elements of his personal life. Although it is clear that Edwards is fond of Goldwater, he doesn't idolize him. The blemishes in his personality, including the cantankerous side that increasingly manifested itself as he grew older, are in full view, as are, of course, those aspects of Goldwater that made him an endearing person to those closest to him.
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