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Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans Hardcover – November 4, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (November 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375507418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375507410
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on March 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Grand Old Party is a well-written account of the history of the Republican party. Although it has a few imperfections, it is still well worth a five-star review.
Gould is up front about any potential bias he may have, declaring early on that he is a Democrat. Despite this (or maybe because of this), he has written a reasonably objective history, with his own political slant relatively limited. Most of his criticisms are not so much aimed at particular political viewpoints as with how various Republicans have executed their ideas over the years. Figures such as Taft, Coolidge and Nixon are shown more positively than usual, while Reagan - the supreme deity in the Republican pantheon - is viewed a little more critically.
The main theme of this book is the complete shift in political thought that the Republicans have undergone in their 150 years of existence, going from the "liberal" party that was highly nationalistic and an advocate of centralized power to the more conservative party it is today, with its emphasis on states' rights and limited government. Gould traces this transformation and indicates the pivotal points, perhaps none greater than Teddy Roosevelt's splitting of the party in 1912, driving out the more progressive members and shifting the balance within.
While a great book, this book is not perfect. In particular, I would have liked a deeper look into the Whigs, who were in many ways the precursors of the Republicans. Nonethless, for those interested in the political history of the U.S., this book - along with its companion history of the Democrats, Party of the People - is a worthwhile read.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M.R.Hoksbergen on July 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Lewis Gould has delivered a great standard on the GOP. Although his own views are undeniably liberal, he portrays the presidents and political events of today and the past in a very gripping way.
Not only is "Grand Old Party" a must-read for political junkies, it also places the actions and decisions of the republican leaders in its historical context, making the book not just a political volume, but also a great work on American history (from the Civil War).
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Frank J. Konopka VINE VOICE on March 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Last year was the 150th anniversity of the founding of the Republican Party, and this book gives a concise but fairly thorough history from then until the present day. The author admits at the outset that he is not philosophically in tune with the GOP, but that he will endeavor to be fair and accurate. For the most part, he remians true to that pledge, although at times it is quite possible to feel the animus attempting to break through the veneer of historical accuracy. For all of that, it is a well-written book, and does reveal some other interpretations of history, different from what we were taught to believe was true in school. This book is worth reading to see how a political party is founded, grows, matures, and changes its beliefs in step with the way the world around it changes.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on November 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a great sweeping account of the GOP. Beginning with the founding of the party and the election of Lincoln this book takes us through many of the essential victories and defeats of the Republican party. It looks at the Johnson impeachment crises. The scandals of Grant. The `stolen election' of 1876. The rise of Teddy Roosevelt and Taft. This book does a wonderful job at looking at the era of republican dominance(1920-1933). The author brilliantly looks at the essential problems and changes facing the GOP. The transformation of the party from one of federalism under Lincoln to one of anti-government under Reagan. He shows how the Republican party worked hard to find the soul of the nation and preserved all that was essentially American. An important account, a great reference and a good read. "party of the peaople" is a good companion valume that covers the history of the Democratic party.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By lee freke on December 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans by Lewis Gould details its rise from an anti-segregationist party to the party perceived today, rightly or wrongly, as anti-african american.

Lewis Gould, emeritus professor of hisory at University of Texas at Austin, effectively tackles this monumental task and delivers a work that is both interesting and informative.

Writing in a fluid, lucid style, the reader is swept from the Reconstruction to the Depression, from protective tariffs to supply-side economics, partaking as observer of events that made and nearly marred the party in its 150 years of existence.

His excellent scholarship and his attention to fact and detail make it worth its weight in 'greenbacks'.

The only drawback is that given its contemporary nature, Gould is unable to give a historical perspective on the GOP from '76 onward.

Yet notwithstanding this inescapable flaw, for a detailed description of the party of Lincoln and Reagan, Blaine and Gingrich, this book is a must read.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By drohan00 on February 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I will admit right away that I am a conservative Republican. I did like the book, but found it grating in some places. Therefore I rate it as a fair account. (Nelson Rockefeller was not Conservative! Michael Dukakis is not a moderate!)
I also find it odd that the publisher couldn't get one Republican elected official to review the book. (While the Book on the Democrats has two such reviews.) It is also notable that the Republicans had to suffer disection by a liberal partisan Democrat. The publishers let another liberal Democrat write the book on the Democrats. It struck me as true to life.
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