Debating the American Conservative Movement: 1945 to the Present

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Debating the American Conservative Movement chronicles one of the most dramatic stories of modern American political history. The authors describe how a small band of conservatives in the immediate aftermath of World War II launched a revolution that shifted American politics to the right, challenged the New Deal order, transformed the Republican Party into a voice of conservatism, and set the terms of debate in American politics as the country entered the new millennium. Historians Donald T. Critchlow and Nancy MacLean frame two opposing perspectives of how the history of conservatism in modern America can be understood, but readers are encouraged to reach their own conclusions through reading engaging primary documents.

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Editorial Reviews

History Teacher
The book splits between Critchlow's sympathetic views of conservatism after World War II and MacLean's rebuttal of conservatism as a positive force in American politics. Each essay is followed by a set of primary documents designed to substantiate preceding arguments. A great guide . . . for history students. . . . The essays are critical to demonstrating how to frame ideological debates without resorting to logical fallacies and name-calling.
Matthew D. Lassiter
Debating the American Conservative Movement presents a lively, passionate argument about the rise of the New Right and its far-reaching consequences for American politics since World War II. Two distinguished historians, Donald Critchlow and Nancy MacLean, concur that the conservative movement came to power because 'ideas have consequences' but disagree on almost everything else that they discuss in this volume. Their competing perspectives on modern conservatism will help students understand the high stakes of historical debates over the legacy of the New Deal, the fate of the civil rights movement, the emergence of the Religious Right, and the meaning of the 'Reagan Revolution.'
Bruce J. Schulman
A stimulating and valuable book. With vigorously argued essays by major scholars and a revealing collection of primary sources, this volume allows students to understand—and invites them to enter—the historical debate on this pivotal subject.
Laura A. Belmonte
An engaging, fair, and invaluable collection—a marvelous addition to any course on modern America.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742548244
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/16/2009
  • Series: Debating Twentieth-Century America Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 244
  • Sales rank: 935,794
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald T. Critchlow is professor of history at St. Louis University and the author of numerous scholarly articles and books, including The Conservative Ascendency: How the GOP Right Made Political History and Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism. Nancy MacLean is professor of history and African-American studies at Northwestern University, and the author of Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan; Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace and The American Women's Movement: A Brief History with Documents.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

The Conservative Ascendancy Donald T. Critchlow 1


1 Conservatives Debate the Cold War: Excerpt from "Conservatism and the National Review: Criticism and Reply" (November 1961) Ronald Hamowy William F. Buckley Jr., 61

2 Young Conservatives Organize: The Sharon Statement (September 11, 1960) 75

3 A Conservative Speaks in Favor of Civil Rights: Senator Everett Dirksen, Congressional Record (June 1964) 77

4 A Conservative Opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Congressional Record (June 1964) Senator Barry Goldwater 83

5 The Cold War and the Arms Race: Excerpt from Memorandum to Donald Rumsfeld from (December 19, 1974) Paul H. Nitze 87

6 Conservative Values: "Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Association of the Evangelicals" (March 8, 1983) Ronald Reagan 99

7 "Creators of the Future" (March 1, 1985) Ronald Reagan 109

8 Conservatives on Religious Freedom: "Religious Liberty" (2008) Mitt Romney 117

Guardians of Privilege Nancy MacLean 123


1 "What Is Conservatism?" (1966) Frank Meyer 177

2 "I Sense Here a Realignment of Southern Conservative Democrats" (1953) Barry Goldwater 181

3 "Integration Is Communization" (1957) Richard M. Weaver 183

4 "Our Position on States' Rights Is the Same as Your Own": Letter from William F. Buckley Jr. to W. J. Simmons (September 10, 1958); Letter from (September 5, 1958) W. J. Simmons J. P. McFadden 187

5 Young Americans for Freedom, "King Was a Collectivist" (1968) 189

6 "Linda's Crusade" (May 21, 1968) William F. Buckley Jr. 193

7 Phyllis Schlafly, "What's Wrong with 'Equal Rights' for Women?" (February 1972) 197

8 "Jefferson Davis'sDescendents...Are Becoming Involved with the Republican Party": Southern Partisan Interview with Trent Lott (1984) 201

9 "An Open Letter to the Christian Coalition" (1995) Elizabeth Birch 205

Selected Readings 211

Index 221

About the Authors 235

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