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The Right Nation: Conservative Power in…

The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America (2004)

by John Micklethwait

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A history of the Republican party in the USA in the 1960s onwards. A fairly objective account of the conservative/liberal tugs-of-war which explained my whole childhood to me. Perhaps only for diehard American political enthusiasts, but fascinating. ( )
  kday_working | Apr 7, 2013 |
Fascinating and excellent read by two "Economist" reports, Brits living in US. Provides illuminating explanation of two related areas: first, how and why American political culture is fundamentally different than Europe, and second, what exactly is the c ( )
  jaygheiser | Jul 23, 2008 |
Excellent! The authors being Brits, they come at their subject very objectively, and generally do a fine job describing, well, me.

Their main contentions that America's conservatism is innate due to our "recent" founding and lack of ties to "old" Europe, religiosity, and suspicion of the state are spot on.

Naturally, they spend a lot of ink on current foreign policy and some of their conclusions are being outdated by the minute as the surge gains more momentum in Iraq. However, their reasoning that Right Nation is distrustful of international institutions such as the UN, while correct, is lacking. They attribute it to the US's distrust of "states" in general and our "rugged individualism." The authors seems to overlook minor disgraces such as Oil for Food and don't seem to notice a somewhat concerted effort by America's enemies to use the UN as the only viable counterweight to American power. They rightfully mention the travesties such as Kofi Annan and Rwanda, and Cuba being on the Human Rights Commission, but seem to miss the narrative that the UN is basically out to thwart any values America holds dear.

That said, this is a great overview of how the USA became what it is. Having just traveled to Mexico and experienced anti-Americanism first had for the first time, I think this book would be a wonderful introduction for foreigners to help them learn just what is going on in the US's collective mind (should they be so inclined). ( )
  sergerca | Dec 4, 2007 |
All Americans are conservative

... and HERE is the prime reason why Europe does not understand the USA, and also why Democrats have gone from being Americans that lean left to Europeans that sometimes lean American!

"The Right Nation" shows that we are, indeed, a religious nation, both Democrat and Republican. They do a fantastic job explaining American conservatism and why it differs from European conservatism. This point cannot be discussed enough, really.

European conservatives are hidebound and rooted completely in Monarchic pasts, but American conservatism is and always has been a progressive conservatism. And now, the European right is becoming reactionary and racist which is just a reflection of a racism that has never been defeated in Europe as it has in the US.

This book is a must, even for Democrats, if you want to understand the reason Europe doesn't "get" the USA and why we Americans should be wary of becoming too much like Europe. Becoming more like Europe would be an abrogation of everything that has been and should be truly American in nature.

Get this book! ( )
  WarnerToddHuston | Apr 7, 2007 |
Great book. Very thorough and the drier topics are kept interesting with great anecdotes obtained through first-hand research. These two Brits have done both the left and right in Americaa service by conducting such a thorough and insightful analysis of the modern American political landscape. ( )
  urhockey22 | May 1, 2006 |
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For Tessa and Joshua Micklethwait and Dora Wooldridge

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Sitting on a sofa with their plastic cups of coffee, Dustin and Maura look like a couple of twenty-somethings in a creative writing course; a sprawl of slightly scruffy sweatshirts, jeans and sneakers, Dustin in a baseball cap, Maura with her blond hair tied behind her head with a Native-American band. (Introduction)
Sir Lewis Namier, the great historian of English politics in the age of George III, once remarked that "English history, and especially English parliamentary history, is made by families rather than individuals." (Chapter 1)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143035398, Paperback)

The Right Nation is not "for" liberals, and it's not "for" conservatives. It's for any of us who want to understand one of the most important forces shaping American life. How did America's government become so much more conservative in just a generation? Compared to Europe-or to America under Richard Nixon-even President Howard Dean would preside over a distinctly more conservative nation in many crucial respects: welfare is gone; the death penalty is deeply rooted; abortion is under siege; regulations are being rolled back; the pillars of New Deal liberalism are turning to sand. Conservative positions have not prevailed everywhere, of course, but this book shows us why they've been so successfully advanced over such a broad front: because the battle has been waged by well-organized, shrewd, and committed troops who to some extent have been lucky in their enemies.

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, like modern-day Tocquevilles, have the perspective to see this vast subject in the round, unbeholden to forces on either side. They steer The Economist's coverage of the United States and have unrivaled access to resources and-because of the magazine's renown for iconoclasm and analytical rigor-have had open-door access wherever the book's research has led them. And it has led them everywhere: To reckon with the American right, you have to get out there where its centers are and understand the power flow among the brain trusts, the mouthpieces, the organizers, and the foot soldiers. The authors write with wit and skewer whole herds of sacred cows, but they also bring empathy to bear on a subject that sees all too little of it. You won't recognize this America from the far-left's or the far-right's caricatures.  Divided into three parts-history, anatomy, and prophecy-The Right Nation comes neither to bury the American conservative movement nor to praise it blindly but to understand it, in all its dimensions, as the most powerful and effective political movement of our age.

Chapter One

Sir Lewis Namier, the great historian of English politics in the age of George III, once remarked that "English history, and especially English parliamentary history, is made by families rather than individuals." The same could be said of American political history, especially in the age of George I and George II. There is no better introduction to the radical transformation of Republicanism in the past generation-from patrician to populist, from Northeastern to Southwestern, from pragmatic to ideological-than the radical transformation of Republicanism's current leading family, the Bushes.

Grandfather Prescott

The Bushes began political life as classic establishment Republicans: WASPs who summered in Kennebunkport, educated their children at boarding schools and the Ivy League and claimed family ties to the British royal family (Queen Elizabeth II is the thirteenth cousin of the first President Bush). George W.'s paternal great-grandfather, Samuel P. Bush, was a steel and railroad executive who became the first president of the National Association of Manufacturers and a founding member of the United States Chamber of Commerce. His maternal great-grandfather, George Herbert Walker, was even grander. The cofounder of W. A. Harriman, Wall Street's oldest private investment bank, Walker's stature was summed up by his twin Manhattan addresses: his office at One Wall Street and his home at One Sutton Place. There was certainly muck beneath this brass: both Walker and Bush had their share of Wall Street shenanigans and cozy government deals, but in the age...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:25 -0400)

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This is a portrait of America that few outsiders understand - the America that votes for George Bush, that supports the death penalty and gun rights, that believes in minimal government and long prison sentences, that pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol. The authors drive to the question: why does America seem so different?… (more)

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