Rebels All!: Rebels All! A Short History of the Conservative Mind in Postwar America [NOOK Book]

Overview

Do you ever wonder why conservative pundits drop the word ?faggot? or talk about killing and then Christianizing Muslims abroad?  Do you wonder why the right?s spokespeople seem so confrontational, rude, and over-the-top recently?  Does it seem strange that conservative books have such apocalyptic titles?  Do you marvel at why conservative writers trumpeted the ?rebel? qualities of George W. Bush just a few years back? 

            There ...

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Rebels All!: Rebels All! A Short History of the Conservative Mind in Postwar America

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Overview

Do you ever wonder why conservative pundits drop the word “faggot” or talk about killing and then Christianizing Muslims abroad?  Do you wonder why the right’s spokespeople seem so confrontational, rude, and over-the-top recently?  Does it seem strange that conservative books have such apocalyptic titles?  Do you marvel at why conservative writers trumpeted the “rebel” qualities of George W. Bush just a few years back? 

            There is no doubt that the style of the political right today is tough, brash, and by many accounts, not very conservative sounding. After all, isn’t conservatism supposed to be about maintaining standards, upholding civility, and frowning upon rebellion? Historian Kevin Mattson explains the apparent contradictions of the party in this fresh examination of the postwar conservative mind. Examining a big cast of characters that includes William F. Buckley, Whittaker Chambers, Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Kevin Phillips, David Brooks, and others, Mattson shows how right-wing intellectuals have always, but in different ways, played to the populist and rowdy tendencies in America’s political culture. He boldly compares the conservative intellectual movement to the radical utopians among the New Left of the 1960s and he explains how conservatism has ingested central features of American culture, including a distrust of sophistication and intellectualism and a love of popular culture, sensation, shock, and celebrity.

            Both a work of history and political criticism, Rebels All! shows how the conservative mind made itself appealing, but also points to its endemic problems. Mattson’s conclusion outlines how a recast liberalism should respond to the conservative ascendancy that has marked our politics for the last thirty years.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This slim, scathing study of the right's trajectory argues that conservatives co-opted the utopian radicalism of the left to brilliantly position themselves as political underdogs, while efficiently consolidating power. With a little cheekiness and ample research, Mattson (When America Was Great) contends that today's conservatives, marked by their "aggressive, confrontational" style, their populism, "pizzazz and brashness," are the true inheritors of the '60s' "rebel spirit." The author skillfully links the invasion of Iraq with the new conservative utopianism ("a new city on the hill in the Middle East") and identifies conservatism's ideological family tree, detecting the echoes of Bill Buckley in Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. He enriches his familiar analysis of the birth of the "neocons" by reviewing how conservatives learned to define themselves more sharply, using the radical style of their liberal counterparts, and demonstrates how populism was fused with neoconservatism to sire the politics of "uncivil debate." Passionately, unapologetically partisan, the author's incendiary argument only cools when he champions liberalism as the "middle of the political spectrum," perhaps proving that he-like the conservatives he so effectively skewers-is best on the offensive. (Aug.)

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Library Journal

Mattson (history, Ohio Univ.) begins his history of the modern conservative movement in America with the mid-1950s. He argues that contrary to most views of the 1960s, the conservative movement was alive and well then and that conservatives during this period adapted the confrontational tactics of the Left. Later, during the 1970s and 1980s, they used the language of the Left to further their agenda. As an example, Mattson discusses the controversy surrounding academic freedom. He says that conservatives see a liberal bias on college campuses that they characterize as a "hostile learning environment," a phrase first used by liberals to describe perceived biases against ethnic minorities in education. Although the author makes clear that he is a liberal, the book is an objective history of modern conservatism, highlighting the work of William Buckley, Irving Kristol, and others. In the last chapter, Mattson discusses the consequences of the Right's adaptation of the Left's tactics. He says that politics has become a series of personal attacks, prompting more people to ignore politics altogether. He then offers advice for combating this problem. Recommended for academic libraries; public libraries will want to evaluate their collections before purchase.-Becky Kennedy, Atlanta-Fulton P.L.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813545103
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 6/3/2008
  • Series: Ideas in Action
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,283,834
  • File size: 399 KB

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction: The Party of Ideas?     1
The First Generation: Apocalyptic Rebels with a Cause     22
The Big Chill That Set Fires     62
Postmodern Conservatism, the Politics of Outrage, and the Mindset of War     97
Conclusion: When Extremism Becomes a Virtue     133
Notes     143
Index     161
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