Back to Basics for the Republican Party

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Back to Basics for the Republican Party is a history of the party with special emphasis on its origins and development through the Reconstruction era. The book also tells the story of the Democratic Party as well as of the Whig, Greenback, and other parties.  The narrative concludes during President Clinton's second term.

Sample paragraphs: "The Republican Party is the Party of Lincoln."  Though Republican candidates may say this ...
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Back to Basics for the Republican Party is a history of the party with special emphasis on its origins and development through the Reconstruction era. The book also tells the story of the Democratic Party as well as of the Whig, Greenback, and other parties.  The narrative concludes during President Clinton's second term.

Sample paragraphs: "The Republican Party is the Party of Lincoln."  Though Republican candidates may say this occasionally during campaign season, we forget just as soon as they do.  What does "Party of Lincoln" actually mean? And more importantly, what should it mean, for us Republicans and the country we love?

How many Americans know why the Republican Party began or what its original purpose was?  Not many! How many Americans know, for example, that the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act were reforms that the Republican Party struggled for in vain during the Reconstruction era a hundred years earlier?  Fewer still.  The 13th amendment banning slavery, the 14th amendment extending the Bill of Rights to the states, and the 15th amendment according voting rights to blacks -- all three were enacted by the much-maligned Radical Republicans in the face of fierce Democrat opposition.  How many Americans know that?  Again, very few.

Now whose fault is it that so much past glory of the Republican Party goes unnoticed today?  Who should we blame?  Ourselves, of course. How can we hope to convince voters to place their confidence in us when we lack confidence in our own heritage?  And how can we Republicans battle Democrats effectively on economic, foreign policy, and other fronts when we act as if the world began the day we were born?

To retake the ideological high ground and fight off the socialism at the core of the Democratic Party we Republicans must embrace the GOP's original reform agenda that is at once pro-free market and pro-constitutional rights. The founders of our Party understood that to win and to deserve to win, there should be no separating the two.  To understand this original vision of our Republican Party we look to the site of the 2000 Republican National Convention.  Philadelphia is not only where the Constitution was written but where in 1856 the first Republican National Convention met in order to save it, for their generation unto ours.

Throughout Back to Basics for the Republican Party, we will run through our fingers the links in the chain of events between then and now. Placing events in context means reaching back to the drafting of the Constitution to describe the point of view of patriots in the 1850s who were alarmed that the slave system was extending itself northward, threatening the free market system we still cherish today.

Today's Republican Party places itself at an immense disadvantage.  Rather than express clearly what we should be for -- the free market society we Republicans won the Civil War to preserve -- on too many issues, too often our Party's policy is merely that we are against whatever Democrats are for, or perhaps we want less of it than they do.

Our Party is an athlete who has lost his balance -- we are in good shape, with plenty of drive, but until we regain our footing we are going nowhere.

Upper left: Abraham Lincoln
Upper right: Thaddeus Stevens
Lower left: Charles Sumner
Lower right: Ronald Reagan

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What People Are Saying

Stephen Heinig
In the style of great American political writing, this book elucidates complex historical events and issues that shaped the Republican Party, while inspiring passion and commitment for the Republican cause. It argues that the vision of 19th century Radical Republicans and their uncompromising fight for the Constitution and freedom, which lead to the abolition of slavery and the true opening of the West, should be the template for the GOP in the new century. The failure of post-Civil War Reconstruction to fulfill the Radical Republican's agenda for reform was a singular national tragedy, resulting in the institutionalization of an underclass and oppression persisting into the modern welfare state. The author is especially adept at uncovering little known, often ironic facts and relationships that illuminate this history without weighing it down. The recounting of events from the Kansas-Nebraska Act to Dred Scott culminating in Lincoln's election is particularly vibrant compared to their stale treatment in some standard histories. Back to Basics for the Republican Party is provocative and challenging, but should be highly appealing to Republican partisans or independent conservatives.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780970006325
  • Publisher: Zak, Michael
  • Publication date: 1/1/2003
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 249
  • Sales rank: 1,123,750
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Overview
Chapter Two: A Grand New Party (1848-1861)
Chapter Three: The Rules by which We Live (1774-1789)
Chapter Four: Holding a Wolf by the Ears (1789-1861)
Chapter Five: Republicans to the Rescue (1861-1865)
Chapter Six: Battling the Neo-Confederates (1865-1874)
Chapter Seven: Links in the Chain of Events (1874-1916)
Chapter Eight: Sliding into Socialism (1916-1952)
Chapter Nine: Republicans at a Loss (1952-2000)
Chapter Ten: Our Rendezvous with Destiny
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 25 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2005

    A must read for Republicans

    In a day when the GOP is often defined by what it is against as much as what it is for, this book shines a needed light on the idealistic origins of the Republican party and points to its founding principles as a sure guide to the GOP's future. Mr. Zak focuses on the pivotal role that the events before, during and after the Civil War had in the establishment of our party's principles. He shows that the much-maligned Radical Republicans of this period were the true heirs of the ideals of the American Revolution and that the Radical Republican freedom for all principles have been in opposition to the divide and conquer, us against them, zero-sum politics so often practiced by the Democratic party. In the history of the GOP found in this book, we see that the party and country has thrived when the ideals of the Radical Republicans have been upheld and the GOP and country has suffered when these founding ideals of free opportunity for all have been neglected or repudiated. This book will make one proud to be a Republican and proud of not just Lincoln, but of other early GOP giants such as Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2005

    I loved the book!

    I really enjoyed reading Back to Basics for the Republican Party. It has so much information that must get out to the black community. It is truly remarkable that I did not learn about Thaddeus Stevens or Charles Sumner until I read the book. Both of these American heroes are likely unknown to most Black Americans, and that is a something that I would love to change. I will do my part! I am telling everyone that I know about the book, many of my friends and relatives will get one as a gift.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2012

    This is THE Handbook for Republican activists. My copy is highl

    This is THE Handbook for Republican activists. My copy is highlighted, tabbed, and I have it almost memorized. I don't leave home without my copy especially when going to a Republican event, workshop or meeting.
    Becky Johnson

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  • Posted June 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Indispensable history of the Republican Party

    This book taught me the genesis of the Republican party; I am proud to be a member of what was once the party of virtue - unfortunately, we have mostly devolved into political opportunists.

    In nearly the first half of the book, Mr Zak lays out a great foundation of explanation so the reader understands politics in the run up to the Civil War. Proving that the new Republican party was not just an opponent of the Democrats, all popular philosophies of the Republicans (to varying degrees of Abolition) are explained. From then, the book is nearly a blow-by-blow of presidential and mid-term election accounts between our party and the Democrats.

    Arguing the two main ideals of the Republican party, racial equality and free-market principles, each decade is illustrated in this book by juxtaposing the Republican fight for civil rights acts and constitutional amendments with the "Solid Southern Democrats" and their northern allies battle against such legislation.

    Little known history, such as thousands of black and white Republican deaths post-Civil War are mentioned. These and other dramatic facts are highlighted as a matter of history, not gratuitously or in a way which seeks vengeance. The name calling that goes on in politics these days is nothing when compared to the violence racist Democrats wrought against abolitionist Republicans in the 19th century. Another interesting fact is that between Reconstruction and 1934, every black person elected to Congress was a Republican (p 107).

    Doing a wonderful job at not promoting the ideal that Republicans can do no wrong, Mr Zak points out where we, as a party, lost focus on our priorities for various reasons. He even admonishes past leaders of our side when they completely abandoned core issues and lost sight of what was important. And to be fair, Mr Zak acknowledges and gives kudos to Democrats in the late 20th century when warranted.

    Although this book was published in 2003 and stops documenting the Republican party before W., Mr Zak poses questions in the last chapter which are as timely as ever in this age of President Obama.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2008

    Shows the True Foundation of the GOP

    Zak's book is essential for anyone who wants to understand the true foundation of the Republican Party. Micheal Zak outlines in great detail the Whig and Abolitionist roots of the party that can be traced throughout its history down to modern day policies. He also makes it easy to see the elements of today's party that do not descend from its historical roots. Finally, Zak does a thorough job of showing the tragic and long-lasting consequences of the Johnson administration following Lincoln's assasination. Any historian giving a sympathetic treatment to Johnson should disabuse himself of that racist fantasy by reading this book. What Zak doesn't cover is that we owe Johnson's selection as Lincoln's 1864 running mate to elements of the Republican Party who were seeking to displace the unpopular and sometimes moderate president from the republican ticket. Lincoln outflanked those elements by coalescing with war democrats in the National Union Party, thus forcing the republicans to renominate him 'see David Herbert Donald, Lincoln'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2004

    A very complete book... by a very deserving author !

    Michael Zak's book reveals as precisely as possible the evolution of the party, starting even earlier than its birth in 1854 since it starts the analysis with the original source of inspiration of the future GOP : George Washington. This book, above all, allows everybody to get rid of the prejudices they may have about the Republicans. Michael Zak succeeds within 229 pages in giving a panoramic view of American politics and of the ideological struggles that marked out the history of the US, from the very beginning to the current period.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2003

    If You're a Republican, Democrat or Independent, Read This Book!

    Just as Ann Coulter destroyed the myth of Joseph McCarthy, Michael Zak finally sets the record straight on the roots of the Republican Party. Far too often today, the descendants of slavery see the Republican Party as a racist, exclusive club for whites. Hopefully many of them will see this book, and finally learn that it was Republicans that led the fight against slavery from its outset. It was Republicans that passed the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments as well as the civil rights acts during and after Reconstruction. Zak does not hide the skeletons either. He points out Republican corruption and incompetence, but most importantly points out the tragic mistakes that virtually handed the Democrats almost the entire African American voting block in this country. Where we as a party go from here depends heavily on our understanding of history and the extent of determination to once again become the party of inclusiveness. This does not require compromising those principles that made us the Grand Old Party, and the guarantors of freedom. We have a long way to go, and are sometimes unsure of the right direction, but just maybe Michael Zak and his excellent book will help us recalibrate our compass.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2003

    Highly Recommended!

    I bought Back to Basics for the Republican Party on the recommendation of friends, and am very impressed! I learned things I didn't know I needed to know, and I'm a Civil War Buff. Excellent book! I'm recommending it to all my friends and family

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2002

    This book makes me proud to be a member of the GOP!

    "Back to Basics for the Republican Party" provides a detailed history of the Republican Party as well as a thorough explanation of Party politics in general. Interspersed within the text are delightful little gems of human interest such as, "It was when rung at a ceremony to mark the death of John Marshall in 1835 that the Liberty Bell cracked." (60) Author Michael Zak's writing is very readable; it is both informative and entertaining for the lay as well as the professional audience. He has a straightforward style for presenting facts, yet he also writes with a passion that moves the reader to conviction; at times I felt as if I was actually there. If you are a Republican, you should buy this book; it will make you proud of your Republican heritage. If you are a Democrat, you should also buy this book-you may find some surprises about your Party's history as well. As Mr. Zak so eloquently quotes in his text, "For you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." (6)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2001

    Finally, an in-depth look at the GOP

    With Back to Basic for the Republican Party, Michael Zak, chronicles the long fight of those ¿Radical¿ Republican to free slaves and develop a forward moving, industrial, free trade economy. He does this with simple, straight forward, historical facts. People of all political interests should read this book. Michael does the in-depth research that is lacking in the mainstream media and our schools. Finally - A true look at the history of race relations and the two political parties. Michael Zak shows what Republicans everywhere should know¿Republicans are not the party of racism. Peter

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2001

    Mr. Zak's Basics is Fantastic

    This history brief is one excellent book. It is rich in facts. It is strong in party identification. This book is exactly what I needed as armament for 'counteroffensives' to typical Democrat offensives. I have never had such a healthy respect for Reconstruction. I have never had such a sense of pride and peace with myself that I chose the Republican Party long ago. It is a confirmation of my intentions; old and new. So good is this work it is imperative I send copies to friends and relatives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2001

    Thanks for setting the record straight!

    This book is a 'must read' for all voting Republicans and Independents who need to reconfirm their conservative political convictions - and for all patriots (including open-minded Democrats) who want to get their facts straight after all the propaganda and distortions that have been pervasive over the last 20 years in the liberal media and classrooms across America. Focusing on historical facts, Mr. Zak 'refreshes' the collective memory about the heritage of the Republican party and will answer a lot of questions from those disconnected and politically 'confused' voters who have gained a new interest in the political process since the drama of the recent Presidential election and the popularity of TV's West Wing. 'Knowledge is power' when it comes to politics and this book gives plenty of overlooked and ignored information to the interested political 'student'. The GOP has a proud and honorable heritage and it's a good time to re-educate those citizens who are concerned, apathetic and cynical towards the political process, that although we can 'agree to disagree' on many issues, there are clear ethical and moral differences to the founding principles of each party. This book has given me a new motivation and recommitment to proudly take a stand on my convictions and to stay involved with the election process in this country.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2001


    This is the most amazing book about politics that I have ever read. The Overview should be required reading for anyone with even a minor interest in government. The remainder is a history lesson that I found enthralling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2001

    A Must Read for Minority Leader Lott!

    As a Democrat, I found this book to be very intriguing. Back to Basics for the Republican Party is not a book of chest-thumping ¿revisionist history,¿ glorifying the GOP. It is one of the best researched books on any modern political party in the United States. Back to Basics for the Republican Party is an eye opener that uncovers the heritage of the GOP¿emancipation, the initiation of the first civil rights act--a century before the Civil Rights Act of 1965, voting rights and more. Author Michael Zak clearly addresses the Republican Party¿s decline from its foundation as well as common felt alienations of minorities from the Republican Party. As the saying goes, ¿remember where you came from,¿ Republicans can benefit individually as well as a party by reading Back to Basics for the Republican Party.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2001

    Honest and Important

    Important, honest, fascinating. Zak has bodly and masterfully rrevealed an often untold segment of American history. He highlights the intrracies and raw human enthusiasm involved with the birth and growth of the Republican Party. Back To Basics for the Republican Party is a book that will surely educate and empower its readers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2000

    Authentic Page-turner !

    The brave and sincere Michael Zak takes wordsmithing to a new dimension; where many have tried but few succeed. Michael is well-researched and is gifted to present the voting public sound arguments. No matter what your party choice, you will agree that Michael's presentation is a rose among many thorns in the world of political rhetoric, often a redundant phrase!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2000

    An Outstanding Treatise on American Politics

    Michael Zak has transcended the present atmosphere of bitter partisan politics with an outstanding treatise on American politics. Regardless of your political affiliation, Michaels book is a fascinating account of a time where common men pursued the noble causes of the abolition of slavery, reconstruction and healing a wounded nation. The evolution of the Republican Party from these pursuits is a history filled with tidbits which I had not known before. For those individuals who embrace the 'ideals' of the present day Democratic Party, you would do well to read this book, it will definitly surprise you!! This book has made me a better informed person on a very interesting, and ever pertinent thread of American History and politics.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2000

    Concise and Compelling -- Buy this Book

    As the two major American political parties seek to define themselves going into the twenty-first century, it is inevitable that they will look to the past to find what it is that sets them apart from each other. <u>Back to Basics</u> is an important book, not only because it seeks to tie the Republicans to their roots as the Party of Lincoln, but also because it establishes an important link to the much-maligned and misunderstood Radical Republicans.<br>     For too long, the history of the Civil War and of Reconstruction has been written by those more sympathetic to the Confederacy and to Andrew Johnson than to the Republican Party that freed the slaves and established an era of racial equality in the South that would not be matched for a century.<br>     If I have a complaint about the book it is that Michael Zak does not give the second Republican President, Ulysses S. Grant, enough credit. More than any other American President, it was Grant who worked to establish and preserve civil rights for the newly freed slaves. It was Grant who established international arbitration as an alternative to war with the Treaty of Washington. It was Grant who vetoed the 1874 inflation bill and made the Republicans the party of hard money. And it was Grant who warned against allowing religious institutions to co-opt the fledgling systems of universal public education. The illegal acts uncovered in the Credit Mobilier scandal, mentioned by Mr. Zak, actually occurred in 1867-68 under the Democratic Administration that preceded Grant and were only uncovered under Grant¿s Administration.<br>     But this is a quibble. If you are a Republican, or are interested in the Republican Party, buy this book. In fact, this book should be mandatory reading for Republican activists. Agree or disagree with his interpretations, and I largely agree with them, Mr. Zak¿s writing style is concise and compelling, and his history of the Republican Party is unmatched.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2000

    A Must Read for all Informed Citizens

    Michael Zak's 'Back to Basics for the Republican Party' is a well researched and insightful book. By tracing the history of the Republican party, it show us where the political system needs to go at the start of the millennium. Zak's book is must read for all informed citizens, Republicans and Democrats alike.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2000

    The Best of Class on this subject!!!

    I have read many books over the years about politics, this is the best! Mike Zak has gotten it right, the first time out of the box. He has given his reader a true history of one of the greatest political parties in the world. The reader will be shocked at how truely difficult the birth of the Republican party was. Zak seemlessly rolls out the key figures all along the way. No serious student of politics should go with out reading this great book another week. No one will be disappointed reading this book.

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