From Publishers Weekly
Just in time for the Republican Party's 150th anniversary next year, Gould, professor emeritus of American history at the University of Texas at Austin, nimbly portrays the almost 180-degree shifts in GOP policy through the decades, making it possible to understand how the Republican platform of 2000 could so closely mirror the Democrats' platform of a century ago. Although the book gives serious weight to issues such as race, especially in shaping the party's antebellum origins, greater emphasis is placed on personalities, especially those of the presidents. Gould offers reappraisals of minor presidents, such as Taft ("more interesting... than his critics at the time realized") and Coolidge (not "the precursor of supply-side economics as depicted by some Republicans in the 1980s"). But the account comes to life more effectively the closer it gets to the present, especially when considering Ronald Reagan, whom Gould considers so strong a conservative influence that he obliterated any recollection of moderation in the party's past. The closing chapters help put the present ideological tenacity of congressional Republicans, beginning with the backlash against the rejection of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, in historical context. It's very instructive to see how recent figures such as Newt Gingrich stand in relation to their predecessors-and how the current administration both shares and rejects the party's historical principles. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gould, an emeritus University of Texas at Austin professor, has researched U.S. political parties throughout his career. He establishes the 1850s context in which the new party arose, examines Lincoln's wartime policies (including an activist federal government) that were pursued by the Republican administrations that dominated the rest of the century, and then analyzes the Progressive-era debate over regulating industrial society in which the GOP shifted to the small-government, low-tax, laissez faire
approach it has now championed for nearly a century. Gould's political history blends historical disciplines, exploring, for example, the interaction of demographics and ideology as the party's vision and tactics have changed over the years. Mary CarrollCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved