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The Roots of Modern Conservatism: Dewey, Taft, and the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party Hardcover – September 26, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0807834855 ISBN-10: 0807834858 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (September 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807834858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807834855
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,922,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Bowen understands what so many historians don't--that politics is often about power and organization, with ideas coming a distant third." -- National Review


"Bowen uses his central argument to weave a coherent and compelling narrative...This is a book well worth the attention of scholars who study the Right." - Jerome Himmelstein, Indiana Magazine of History

"A detailed, interesting, even intriguing investigation. . . . Through careful analysis of archival material, news and magazine accounts, and the writings of other scholars, Bowen tells a lively and largely well written story about ideas, politics, egos, and both good and bad decisions."--Florida Historical Quarterly


"Explore[s] in insightful ways American political developments during the 1940s and 1950s. . . . [It] merit[s] wide attention."--International Social Science Review


"Bowen offers a convincing account of the demise of Dewey's moderate Republicanism and Taft's Old Guard."--Kansas History


"[A] judicious and timely account."--The Historian


"This book makes a necessary correction to our understanding of the history of conservatism and the Republican party, and it will be useful for scholars, graduates, and upper-level undergraduates."--Journal of American History


"This is a masterful treatment of a time when the Republican Party was truly a minority party, and an adroit explanation of how it began to lift itself out of the doldrums."--North Carolina Historical Review

Book Description

"Michael Bowen's fine new book is a timely reminder that rifts within political parties are not only about competing policy agendas but also about fights between career politicos and their organizations. The Roots of Modern Conservatism helps explain why the Republicans took so long to rebound from the collapse of the Hoover presidency and what the long-term consequences for American conservatism were of that long period in the political wilderness."--David Stebenne, Ohio State University, author of Modern Republican: Arthur Larson and the Eisenhower Years

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Seth on December 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a well written and extremely informed book about the early years of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. For those interested in learning why most conservatives are currently part of the GOP, then this book will help you better understand the transformation. Well worth the read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Garren Shipley on January 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's a common fault in modern times: history started in 2000, when the Internet really took off, or even worse, at the beginning of the current President's term in office. This book breaks that illusion and digs deep into the history of where our modern beliefs and disagreements come from. A brilliant, quite readable, scholarly take on modern politics. Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MarkK VINE VOICE on October 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Over the course of the twentieth century, the Republican Party evolved from an ideologically diverse coalition of regional groups into a more uniformly conservative organization. There were many steps in this process, from the split created by Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential run in 1912 to the struggle between the so-called “Rockefeller” and “Goldwater” Republicans in the 1960s, which have received attention from scholars. In this book Michael Bowen focuses another step in this transformation, the battle between the supporters of Thomas E. Dewey and Robert Taft in the 1940s and early 1950s. In the process, he corrects several misconceptions about the nature of their conflict, corrections that shed considerable light on the modern-day struggles within the GOP today.

Bowen begins with the Republican Party in the early 1940s, when it faced successive losses to the Democrats in the 1940 and 1944 presidential elections. Though defeated by Franklin Roosevelt in 1944, Dewey used his role as the Republican nominee to install his people in key positions within the party. With their help Dewey sought to project a more moderate image for the GOP, one that might be more appealing to the broader electorate. This goal, however, put Dewey at odds with Taft, who projected a more conservative tone and sought to capture the presidential nomination for himself. Yet Bowen sees their clash as more a matter of ambition and style rather than substance, noting both Dewey’s conservative positions and Taft’s moderate stance on a few prominent subjects.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. J. Leedham on December 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a useful history and I'm glad I read it. But we have moved on since then and the more recent history of partisan politics is not really that much better informed by this account. I was hoping for more insight into the mentality of the conservative perspective. This is a decent account and fills a hole in my historical understanding. But not, really, contemporary behavior. Much has changed. (24 hour cable news hour, self aware cynicism, etc) Possibly the characters portrayed in this account were principled, more so than contemporary politicians. I did get a sense that the issues raised in this account are no longer a driving force of contemporary politics, and that nothing, really has replaced them. So it does feel as though contemporary conservatism is otiose, or moribund.

The time running up to the War (WW2) and then Roosevelt's policies to deal with the German and Japanese aggression pretty much put paid to the "primitives" - the reactionaries and isolationists. But then they were back after the war with the "You Lost our China" and the great McCarthy Communists under the bed hearings.... Was there ever anything useful or valuable conservative extremists ever contributed?

I will have to look elsewhere for a more contemporary account of current polemics.
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1 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ahtrim54 on July 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a painful, pedestrian narrative about a micro history in Republican history, which the author tries to pawn off as the origins of 'modern conservatism'.
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