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Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party (Studies in Postwar American Political Development) Hardcover – January 4, 2012


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Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party (Studies in Postwar American Political Development) + It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Postwar American Political Development
  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199768404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199768400
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"In Rule and Ruin, his wonderfully detailed new history of moderate Republicanism, Geoffrey Kabaservice makes a strong case that moderate Republicanism was hardier than we remember." --Timothy Noah, The New York Times Book Review


"The good guys lost; the bad guys won. That's the story Kabaservice sets out to tell in Rule and Ruin. He tells it in strong and engaging prose, often with a literary flair." --The National Interest


"Kabaservice is a wonderfully straightforward historian who does not layer on a lot of interpretive gloss...Rule and Ruin is a wonderful reminder of what was once -- not very long ago -- a vital tradition in American politics." --The New Republic


"An audacious and important history that rediscovers a great political tradition at exactly the moment when it is again needed most." --David Frum, author of Comeback: Conservatism that Can Win Again


"The radical turn of the Republican Party into a voice of right-wing extremism is one of the major themes of modern American political history. Rule and Ruin tells the whole story in stunning detail, and in prose that is as balanced as it is lucid. No study of our recent politics could possibly be more timely on the eve of the 2012 elections." --Sean Wilentz, Princeton University, author of The Age of Reagan


"Meticulously researched and compellingly written, Rule and Ruin is more than an account of the demise of moderate Republicans; it is a penetrating history of the modern Republican Party over the past half century. This is an exceptional book, and must reading for anyone who will follow with interest (or dread) the Republican race to a presidential nomination in 2012." --Norman J. Ornstein, Resident Scholar, The American Enterprise Institute


"In this timely work, Geoffrey Kabaservice successfully combines thorough historical research and a gripping narrative. The result is a comprehensive account of an ideological and political contest which, played out over half a century, has had a profound influence on the Republican Party and modern American politics." --Strobe Talbott, President, Brookings Institution


"Kabaservice's book is a painstaking and well-argued attempt to resurrect the losers in the GOP's fratricidal war, the liberal and moderate Republicans, including many from the northeastern states where today their influence still lingers." --Sam Tanenhaus, The New York Review of Books


"Kabaservice ably narrates the Republican Party's fifty-year conversion from a diverse political organization into an exclusively conservative 'ideological vehicle.'...Kabaservice is
as moderate as his subject matter; he resists proposing an implausibly easy solution. He believes that third-party projects are likely "foredoomed to failure," and redistricting reforms will be "a slow process" at best." --Commonwealth


About the Author


Geoffrey Kabaservice is the author of the National Book Award-nominated The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment. He has written for numerous national publications and has been an assistant professor of history at Yale University. He lives outside Washington, DC.

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Customer Reviews

A well researched book.
RICHARD WRIGHT
Overall, I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in political history, regardless of their own personal politics.
Samuel J. Sharp
This book has given me a whole new level of insight into the way in which the Republican party has evolved over time.
gormenghast

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 99 people found the following review helpful By gormenghast on January 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book, to the point where I can't stop talking about it and will corner anyone who appears even mildly receptive and launch into a detailed description of some aspect of the book - for example, the differences between moderate Republican George Romney (who features prominently in this work) and his son, Mitt Romney, or the fact that Republicans Eisenhower and Nixon, if they were in office today, would be regarded by some conservatives as dangerously left-leaning. This book has given me a whole new level of insight into the way in which the Republican party has evolved over time. I think both Democrats and Republicans would enjoy this book and learn a great deal from it.

I struggled a little with the first chapter, which covers a lot of ground, providing an overview of moderate and conservative factions within the Republican party from 1854 to the present. However, from the second chapter onward the book has a wonderful narrative flow. Although this is a scholarly work it reads as easily as a novel, and author Geoffrey Kabaservice has an elegant style that incorporates both wit and depth. Most of the book focuses upon the 1960s. When you think about the anti-establishment protests of the `60s, you usually think of liberal college-age students dropping acid and protesting the Vietnam War. This book made me realize that another revolt was taking place during those years, on the opposite side of the political spectrum. An arch-conservative minority within the Republican party was fomenting rebellion, determined to bring down the moderate, progressive Republicans who had been in power since the days of Eisenhower.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By W. V. Buckley on January 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Democrat. I've been a Democrat for the past three decades, but before that I was an Independent. So what pushed me from the middle of the political road into the Democratic camp? Exactly the sort of thing in the Republican party that Geoffrey Kabaservice describes in Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party - the utter annililation of moderation in the GOP.

From today's standpoint it's difficult to imagine the word "moderate" linked with the Republican Party. But as Kabaservice notes, Eisenhower was the epitome of moderation. It was he, afterall, who warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex, something that would likely get a modern Republican branded as a closet liberal or worse. Even the red-baiting Nixon opened relations with Communist China and signed off on classically liberal concerns such as environmental issues. From arch-conservative Goldwater's disasterous presidential bid to Reagan's inclusion of the one-time apolitical evangelicals to the rise of the Tea Party, Rule and Ruin gives us a ring-side seat to the sweeping changes that have occurred in the Grand Old Party in the span of a single lifetime.

Kabaservice traces the steps between a Republican Party concerned about civil rights and dedicated to traditional conservative issues such as promoting business and small government to today's GOP with its obsession over social issues such as abortion, gay rights and the Second Amendment. It makes for fascinating reading and Kabaservice has done in-depth research using a wide variety of resources.
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36 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Pete Rafle on December 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Geoff Kabaservice's essays and analysis of our current political landscape (see the American Spectator and FrumForum for examples) blend flashes of unparalleled insight with deep historical understanding, ascerbic wit and a seemingly effortless prose. His newest volume is a welcome and timely analysis of one of the great tragedies of our time -- the GOP's pogrom against its own moderate wing. A must-read for anyone seeking to make sense of our current political quagmire, and how we got here.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Samuel J. Sharp on April 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Kabaservice tracks the decline of moderation in the Republican Party with a very heavy focus on the period between 1960-1970. There are a few chapters covering the subsequent decades so the road from "Eisenhower to the Tea Party" is almost completely paved in the 1960's. The lack of balance is not necessarily a criticism because Kabaservice states that George Romney was the moderates' last hope for their vision of Republicanism and that the moderate movement was closed after the disastrous 1970 Congressional election. That being said, some readers may still be disappointed by the cursory treatment of events from 1970-2012. Overall, I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in political history, regardless of their own personal politics.

The book itself is well-researched and the tone is appropriately scholarly. As for primary source material, the author conducted over 50 interviews with politicians and Republican leaders and the list of manuscript collections consulted is impressive. Thankfully, Kabaservice's writing style is not aggressively partisan; the most inflammatory language I found in the main text was the assertion that the "Republican party without moderates was like a heavily muscled body without a head." His rhetoric is a bit less constrained in the conclusion but the overall impression is that he is properly detached from politics to give a fair account of the material.

I do have a few criticisms that I only list to justify giving this book 4 stars instead of 5. My primary criticism of the book is the heavy focus on elections to the exclusion of what politicians were actually doing once elected. Other than the push for Civil Rights legislation, voting trends of Congressional members are largely ignored.
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