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The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America Paperback – Bargain Price, September 30, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. With this intelligent and expansive book, Los Angeles Times political correspondent and columnist Brownstein dissects the hyperpartisanship that he believes has unnecessarily inflamed our differences and impeded progress against our most pressing challenges. The first half of the book examines the roots of this hyperpartisanship, beginning with the 1896 election of William McKinley, which the author argues ushered in four decades of fierce partisan division. The 1938 resurgence of the Republican Party marked the start of the age of bargaining, with presidents and legislators crossing party lines to govern through consensus. The author believes both parties became more ideologically consistent during the 1960s, resulting in a sorting out of the electorate that eventually led to today's partisan divisiveness. This thorough history lays the groundwork for Brownstein's incisive analysis of the contemporary Republican and Democratic parties. He resists blaming any one party or president for the state of contemporary American politics, instead attributing partisan divisions to interest groups, changes in congressional rules and practices and the realignment of the parties and electorate. This sophisticated though lengthy book lays out a complex history with lucid precision, painting a damning portrait of contemporary politics that's sure to provoke and captivate readers interested in American politics and history. (Nov. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Brownstein knows what hes talking about.
Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
Allan Brinkley, The New York Times Book Review
[From] one of Americas best political journalists . . . a sparkling new book.
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Top customer reviews
This is a well written book, well thought out and thoroughly researched. The strongest case it makes is neither for conservatives nor liberals, but the need for moderation. Those rare times when the parties have worked together have been the only times that the Washington powers have achieved worthwhile goals. Polarized and uncompromising times produce nothing but threats, and not since the Civil War--not even Vietnam and Iraq--has the country be so divided. We might as well be shooting at each other as killing with wrong headed policies and laws that express nothing but the extreme views that are arrived at by brute power rather then compromises and modeeration. That, too, is a civil war, just a different kind, but, in many cases, just as damaging.
Brownstein's book is a fair comparison of how the country felt and voted at any given time since 1896. The era from McKinley to Hoover more or less matched the hyperpartisanship of today, while FDR's time through the 1980s allowed for compromise and historic legislation. While this is a comprehensive work of age-old politics, it's really more about the last fifteen years....the era of Clinton and "W". This is the part of "The Second Civil War" where Brownstein makes his mark and it's clear he has some distinct opinions. The Gingrich crowd, never a particularly likeable American flavor favorite, began the ball rolling in earnest toward a "take-no-prisoners" approach to Congress, heightened only by the intense partisanship of the Bush presidency. In so many words, Brownstein points out that because of this, we've lost more than we've gained and it will take years of rebuilding to set things straight. He's right, of course, and I kept wondering while reading this book if we've really hit the political nadir just yet in America.
I highly recommend "The Second Civil War" for its insight and depth. Ronald Brownstein has done a remarkable job in putting this book together and it should be read by all who have a serious interest in American politics and those who care about where this country might be headed in that regard.
A definite eye-opener.
Most recent customer reviews
Everyone knows that America is presently gripped by an immense "hyperpartisanship" in...Read more