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War Without End Hardcover – July, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While a decisive, antagonistic split between the cultural left and right has been present in U.S. society for far longer than 30 years think, as Shogan notes, of the 1925 Scopes trial its decisive escalation since 1960 has lately made it a central aspect of national politics. This highly readable survey of the situation provides frequent insights into the ongoing war. Shogan, who spent 30 years covering Washington politics for Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times, is at his best when reminding us of the historical details we may have forgotten, ranging from the quirky (newly elected President Jimmy Carter urging federal employees: "those of you who are living in sin, I hope you'll get married") to the ironic (Pat Robertson, the son of a noted Democratic senator, was the head of an Adlai Stevenson for President Committee in 1956). Shogan is terrific when dealing with the details and the aftermath of a specific fight, such as Chicago mayor Richard Daley's order to "shoot to kill, shoot to maim" looters in 1968 or the defeat of Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court. But often Shogan's broad sweep renders his material superficial. Taking on such central issues as the ERA, homosexuality, federal funding for church-based schools, and abortion, he charts how the culture wars have shifted over the years. Never driven by polemics or a strong point of view, this is an engaging overview of the past 30 years of political struggle.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Whether the future of American politics will continue to reflect the struggle between liberal, secular humanism and conservative, religious fundamentalism remains to be seen, but this book attempts to shed some light on the key people and events that have marked the last 40 years of the battle. Shogan, a retired journalist for Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times and author of nine other books on national politics, presents in nonchronological order the stories of the Clinton sex scandal, the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and the 1980, 1988, and 2000 presidential campaigns. In each case, the author spends considerable time establishing the personalities and motivations of the key players, from Bill Clinton and Ken Starr to Abbie Hoffman and Mayor Richard Daley to George W. Bush and Al Gore, among others. The main problem with the book is its rather simplistic explanation of the cultural, and particularly religious, differences that create the dynamic tension in American politics. A much better, though dated and more detailed, analysis of this subject is E.J. Dionne Jr.'s Why Americans Hate Politics. Though much of the material presented is not new, Shogan's book is entertaining reading. Recommended for all public libraries. Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, PA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1st edition (July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081339760X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813397603
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,900,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By rachel greenberg on January 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The thesis of "War Without End" is that the U.S. is in a constant cultural civil war. A sub-thesis is that culture shapes American politics. For example, the electorate's sense of morality-a cultural value-was violated with the Lewinsky scandal. As a consequence, the democrats were deemed immoral. To correct the electorate's suspicions about immorality in a democratic president and to gain votes, in the 2000 presidential campaign, Gore advertised his religion. Gore's catering to American's morality and religiosity in this election is one illustration of political behavior shaped by largely held cultural values. Another argument the book makes is that there are cultural issues that never go away no matter how often they've been fed or beaten down. Religion is one of these. For example, the 1925 Scopes Monkey trial's ruling that religion and schools be separate did not prevent Reagan in 1980 from making campaign promises to permit prayer in schools. Because religion is a fundamental cultural value, religious issues are bound to rise to the surface time and time and time again, as illustrated by the decade long struggle between those who want religion to play a part in public schools and those who don't. Religion is one facet of the never ending Cultural War.
The thesis--that America is divided by a never-ending struggle for cultural power--cannot be argued. Whereas political leanings (such as rooting for or booing Social Security) are important, they are not held close to the heart. Cultural values are. And when one side feels a value they hold dear is being violated (for example, the Christian Right feels its cultural values are violated by feminist ones, and vice versa), they will fight to defend not only their beliefs, but their life styles.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A worthwhile historical overview of how "cultural conflict" (including such phenomena as the youth movement/counterculture, the '68 Democratic convention, the invention of the silent majority, "family values," the Moral Majority and the Christian Right, the impeachment of Bill Clinton over lies regarding his sexual misbehavior) became such an important, galvanizing and polarizing force in modern American politics. But Robert Shogun really needs to bone up on his knowledge of pop culture. The book is riddled with embarrassing factual errors about the music and movies it cites to reinforce its account of American pop-culture history, and consequently leaves you wondering about its veracity in other areas. Don't publishers hire editors anymore?
A few examples:
1) The post-WWII movie "The Best Years of Our Lives" did not "capture the bullish national mood in 1946," but quite the contrary. It's a poignant, disturbing, and uncommonly realistic account (based on a Life Magazine article) of three returning servicement and their harrowing struggles to re-adjust to domestic life after the life-altering trauma of war. As one reviewer put it: "this powerful classic explores the cynicism and despair underlying the nation's prevailing optimism and prosperity following World War II."
2) The 1954 giant-atomic-mutant-ant science-fiction/horror film "Them!" was NOT "made in Japan, the only nation to have yet absorbed the full fury of the bomb," but was an all-American movie set in New Mexico (yes, think Los Alamos) and shot in California. They don't have Joshua Trees in Japan.
3) The Beatles did not take their name from Keroac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, and "the Beats.
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