Barry Goldwater is widely regarded as one of the most prominent and controversial politicians of our century, a man whose influence on America conservatism led President Ronald Reagan to honor him with the title "Mr. Conservative" when he retired after thirty years in the Senate. A populist from Arizona, Goldwater helped change the Republican Party both ideologically and geographically and planted the seeds of the New Right. Goldberg describes Goldwater's youth, family, and early business enterprises, showing how he both shaped and was shaped by the increasingly sophisticated American Southwest. He tells us about Goldwater's political career and its aftermath, giving insight into his opposition to the senatorial censure of Joseph McCarthy; his 1964 presidential campaign; his role in such political turning points as Watergate and Reagan policy in Nicaragua; his life-long interest in the military, which culminated in the passage of the Goldwater Military Reorganization Act during his last year in the Senate; and his attack on the religious right in the Republican Party.
Former Arizona Republican senator Barry Goldwater, a leader of the extreme conservative movement in the 1960s and '70s, has recently attacked the religious right while championing abortion rights and advocating federal legislation to protect homosexuals against job bias. Many liberals have welcomed Goldwater into their fold, but the author, himself a liberal and a history professor at the University of Utah, points out that Goldwater's bedrock conservative principles emphasizing personal freedom underlie his latest stances. A longtime advocate of limited government and individual responsibility, Goldwater still urges a federal withdrawal from social programs, opposes gun control and believes that women should leave the workplace and return home to raise their children. This balanced, solid biography, written with Goldwater's cooperation (but unauthorized), traces his rugged individualism to his Western frontier roots, to his formative experiences in the Depression and as a gutsy cargo pilot in WWII and to his Jewish immigrant grandfather, Michel Goldwasser, self-made entrepreneur and refugee from Russian Poland. The author details Goldwater's behind-the-scenes role in supporting President Reagan's anticommunist crusade in Nicaragua and his overhaul of the U.S. military chain of command through major legislation in 1986. Photos. (Oct.)
This book's simple title belies the real value of historian Goldberg's work. Not only does it provide an important analysis of the career of a politician once dubbed, "Mr. Conservative," but it chronicles the development of today's almost orthodox conservatism, evident through the Reagan-Bush years and in the 1994 elections. It joins Lee Edwards's more adulatory Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution (LJ 7/95) in painting a portrait of a complicated politician who has become, to some, an American icon. Goldberg, who interviewed principles extensively, draws on the documents to a greater degree than Edwards, who interviewed more Goldwater intimates and put less emphasis on the context. Goldberg does a fine job of placing Goldwater where he always belonged, as a libertarian conservative, not a traditional one. Beautifully written, contextually rich, highly recommended.-Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph