From Publishers Weekly
This comprehensive study of conservative politics from the post-WWI era to the present is replete with clear analysis and good nuggets of information. Lichtman (The Keys of the White House
) profiles the behind-the-scenes operators who have crafted the marching orders for right-wing Americans in the last half-century—financiers like J. Howard Pew, Frank Gannett and the Du Ponts, direct-mail kingpin Richard Viguerie and drawing-room conservatives like William F. Buckley and Bill Kristol. Lichtman observes how a clique of probusiness, mainly Protestant, Americans chaffed at the birth of the welfare state under Democratic administrations and built a network of organizations to resist social engineering and encroaching federal power. The book argues that in postwar America, rising fears over immigration, desegregation and sexual egalitarianism gave bloom to an ethic of Anglo-Saxon supremacy—but Lichtman ignores the deep roots such ideas have in American culture. Lichtman also neglects the transformation in the post–civil rights era, when the conservative movement tried to shed its extreme racial and cultural doctrines and began attracting minority voters and politicos. As a structural blueprint of conservative political power, however, this book is without peer, giving readers a wonderful historical survey of the last 80 years of conservative politics. (June)
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From the Inside Flap
Spanning nearly one hundred years of American political history, and abounding with outsize characters--from Lindbergh to Goldwater to Gingrich to Abramoff--White Protestant Nation offers a penetrating and comprehensive look at the origins, evolution, and triumph (at times) of modern conservatism
In the long-awaited new book from the author of The Keys to the White House--which the Baltimore Sun called "a must book for political junkies" and which remains influential after more than fifteen years in print--Allan J. Lichtman has produced what may be the definitive history of the modern conservative movement in America.
Lichtman is both a professor of political history and a veteran journalist, and he has spent the past ten years combing through more than 150 manuscript collections--confidential memos, internal strategy papers, secret correspondence, and much more--to capture the entire tapestry and trajectory of the conservative movement. He brings to life a gallery of dynamic right-wing personalities, from luminaries such as Strom Thurmond, Billy Graham, Phyllis Schlafly, William F. Buckley Jr., and Bill Kristol to indispensable inside operators like financiers Frank Gannett, J. Howard Pew, and Richard Mellon Scaife. He explodes the conventional wisdom that modern conservative politics began with Goldwater and instead traces the roots of today's movement to the 1920s. He shows how modern conservatism was born out of post-World War I fears that secular, pluralistic, and cosmopolitan forces threatened America's national identity. And he lays bare the tactics that conservatives have used for generations to put their slant on policy and culture; to choke the growth of the liberal state from the New Deal era to the Great Society to the Clinton years; and to build the most powerful network of media, fundraising, and intellectual organizations in the history of representative government.
Ultimately, Lichtman concludes that conservative ideology is grounded not in specific issues such as limited government, low taxes, or free markets--most of which are disposable ideas that the right has been quick to embrace or reject to suit the needs of the moment--but rather in a dual vision of America as a white Protestant nation, and a country whose greatness is driven by private enterprise. He argues that President George W. Bush is the heir to both the strengths and weaknesses of this tradition, and he explores whether Bush is presiding over the demise of the modern conservative movement.
Lively, comprehensive, and built on unprecedented primary research, White Protestant Nation tells the whole story of the modern conservative movement and its place within the big picture of American history. This book is entertaining, provocative, enlightening, and essential reading for anyone who cares about American politics and its history.