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.