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Rebels All!: A Short History of the Conservative Mind in Postwar America (Ideas in Action) Hardcover – June 3, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This slim, scathing study of the right's trajectory argues that conservatives co-opted the utopian radicalism of the left to brilliantly position themselves as political underdogs, while efficiently consolidating power. With a little cheekiness and ample research, Mattson (When America Was Great) contends that today's conservatives, marked by their aggressive, confrontational style, their populism, pizzazz and brashness, are the true inheritors of the '60s' rebel spirit. The author skillfully links the invasion of Iraq with the new conservative utopianism (a new city on the hill in the Middle East) and identifies conservatism's ideological family tree, detecting the echoes of Bill Buckley in Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. He enriches his familiar analysis of the birth of the neocons by reviewing how conservatives learned to define themselves more sharply, using the radical style of their liberal counterparts, and demonstrates how populism was fused with neoconservatism to sire the politics of uncivil debate. Passionately, unapologetically partisan, the author's incendiary argument only cools when he champions liberalism as the middle of the political spectrum, perhaps proving that he—like the conservatives he so effectively skewers—is best on the offensive. (Aug.)
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From School Library Journal

Mattson (history, Ohio Univ.) begins his history of the modern conservative movement in America with the mid-1950s. He argues that contrary to most views of the 1960s, the conservative movement was alive and well then and that conservatives during this period adapted the confrontational tactics of the Left. Later, during the 1970s and 1980s, they used the language of the Left to further their agenda. As an example, Mattson discusses the controversy surrounding academic freedom. He says that conservatives see a liberal bias on college campuses that they characterize as a "hostile learning environment," a phrase first used by liberals to describe perceived biases against ethnic minorities in education. Although the author makes clear that he is a liberal, the book is an objective history of modern conservatism, highlighting the work of William Buckley, Irving Kristol, and others. In the last chapter, Mattson discusses the consequences of the Right's adaptation of the Left's tactics. He says that politics has become a series of personal attacks, prompting more people to ignore politics altogether. He then offers advice for combating this problem. Recommended for academic libraries; public libraries will want to evaluate their collections before purchase.—Becky Kennedy, Atlanta-Fulton P.L.
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Product Details

  • Series: Ideas in Action
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press; Book Club (BCE/BOMC) edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813543436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813543437
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,156,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Buster49 on February 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
One aspect of the book and of the professional reviewers' comments is the claim that contemporary conservatives own the rowdy, rude, and confrontational conduct once attributed to the 1960s counter culture. I feel this is so far from the truth. The stridency found in political opposition is on both the left and the right. I have witnessed much of it on the left as well as the right during this recent presidential campaign. I am a moderate Democrat who, because I wasn't on board with Obama, had "friends" display intolerance that cost the friendship. No.... such rude, "take-no-prisoners" conduct is equally shared by both sides. Keith Olberman and Rush Limbough are extreme idealogues cut from the same cloth. Had McCain won, we would be seeing this galvanized attack mode from the left. I much prefer the well thoughtout civil discourse of a Peggy Noonan on the right or a Bill Moyers on the left.
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