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Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American… (2001)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0809028581, Paperback)Not every presidential election is worth a book more than a quarter-century after the last ballot has been counted. The 1964 race was different, though, and author Rick Perlstein knows exactly why. That year, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, a Democrat, trounced his opponent, Barry Goldwater, a Republican senator from Arizona, in a blowout of historic proportions. The conservative wing of the GOP, which had toiled for so long as the minority partner in a coalition dominated by more liberal brethren, finally had risen to power and nominated one of its own, only to see him crash in terrible splendor. It looked like a death, but it was really a birth: a harrowing introduction to politics that would serve conservatives well in the years ahead as they went on to great success. Conservatives learned a lot in 1964:
It was learning how to act: how letters got written, how doors got knocked on, how co-workers could be won over on the coffee break, how to print a bumper sticker and how to pry one off with a razor blade; how to put together a network whose force exceeded the sum of its parts by orders of magnitude; how to talk to a reporter, how to picket, and how, if need be, to infiltrate--how to make the anger boiling inside you ennobling, productive, powerful, instead of embittering.These were practical lessons that anybody in politics must pick up. For conservatives, the rough indoctrination came in 1964, and Perlstein (who is not a conservative) tells their story in detail and with panache. Before the Storm is not a history of conservative ideas (for that, read The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America, by George Nash), but a chronicle of how these ideas began to matter in politics. The victory of Ronald Reagan in 1980--to say nothing of Newt Gingrich in 1994 and George W. Bush in 2000--might not have been possible without the glorious failure of Barry Goldwater in 1964. As Perlstein writes, "You lost in 1964. But something remained after 1964: a movement. An army. An army that could lose a battle, suck it up, regroup, then live to fight a thousand battles more." --John J. Miller
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:16 -0400)
"Before the Storm begins in a time very much like the present - the tail end of the 1950s, with America affluent, confident, and convinced that political ideology was a thing of the past." "But when John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960, conservatives - Midewestern businessmen, Sun Belt suburbanites, Southern segregationists, and thousands of college students - formed a movement to challenge the center-left consensus. They chose as their hero Barry Goldwater - a rich, handsome Arizona Republican who hated liberalism even mor than he did Moscow - and they grew determined to see him elected President." "Goldwater was trounced by Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The pundits left conservatism for dead. But by the campaign's end, the consensus found itself squeezed from the left and from the right. As early as 1967 Johnson's Great Society programs were blocked by conservatives in Congress, and the movement had arrived; by 1980 a new conservative standard-bearer, Ronald Reagan, was elected President. Today many of Goldwater's ideas are conventional wisdom for Republications and Democrats alike." "Rick Perlstein's original account of the 1960s as the cradle of the conservative movement is also about a revolution in political culture; fears of threats abroad giving way to concerns of disorder at home; campaigns plotted in back rooms giving way to those staged for television; Americans beginning to think of their nation as divided, not united. Filled with portraits of figures from George Wallace to Nelson Rockefeller to Bill Moyers, Before the Storm is a narrative history that adds greatly to our understanding of that controversial era - and of our own."--BOOK JACKET.
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