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Peter Iverson analyzes the latest in the Oklahoma Western Biographies series.
Retired US senator Barry Goldwater has been the subject of several recent biographies, most concentrating on his influence in national conservative politics and military affairs. Iverson (History/Arizona State Univ.) deals with those issues, but he is more concerned with Goldwater's origins as a native Arizonan and the long shadow he casts on local politics even today. Iverson traces Goldwater's several careers, as a department-store operator (the family business being a legacy from Goldwater's grandfather Morris, a Jewish pioneer who came to Arizona in the 1850s), as an airplane pilot, as a soldier, and as a politician, first as a member of the Phoenix city council and then as a national figure. In all these endeavors Goldwater labored to see Arizona develop as an economic power, and he was successful: In tourism and natural-resources extraction and as an outpost of the military-industrial complex, the state leads the Southwest, largely thanks to Goldwater's lobbying. At the same time, Goldwater preached a message of antifederalism and state's rights, decrying such things as "the aping of socialism and the appeasing of the Communists of Russia" (this during the conservative Eisenhower administration) and galvanizing the political right in the process. Iverson analyzes with special care local aspects of Goldwater's 1964 run for the presidency, and he attributes Goldwater's resounding loss (he barely carried even Arizona) in part to the ineptitude of his Arizona-drawn campaign team at the national level. Despite the loss, Iverson writes, Goldwater paved the way for the triumph of conservatism that would manifest itself with Ronald Reagan's election 16 years later.
Although it's of rather narrow interest, Iverson's book is a highly useful addition to the study of Arizona politics.