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The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism: A Short History

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Overview

The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism tells the gripping story of perhaps the most significant political force of our time through the lives and careers of six leading figures at the heart of the movement. David Farber traces the history of modern conservatism from its revolt against New Deal liberalism, to its breathtaking resurgence under Ronald Reagan, to its spectacular defeat with the election of Barack Obama.

Farber paints vivid portraits of Robert Taft, William F. Buckley Jr., Barry Goldwater, Phyllis Schlafly, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. He shows how these outspoken, charismatic, and frequently controversial conservative leaders were united by a shared insistence on the primacy of social order, national security, and economic liberty. Farber demonstrates how they built a versatile movement capable of gaining and holding power, from Taft's opposition to the New Deal to Buckley's founding of the National Review as the intellectual standard-bearer of modern conservatism; from Goldwater's crusade against leftist politics and his failed 1964 bid for the presidency to Schlafly's rejection of feminism in favor of traditional gender roles and family values; and from Reagan's city upon a hill to conservatism's downfall with Bush's ambitious presidency.

The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism provides rare insight into how conservatives captured the American political imagination by claiming moral superiority, downplaying economic inequality, relishing bellicosity, and embracing nationalism. This concise and accessible history reveals how these conservative leaders discovered a winning formula that enabled them to forge a powerful and formidable political majority.

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Editorial Reviews

H-Soz-u-Kult
There are several important and interesting arguments that Farber makes along this narrative and one inspired choice of subject matter—Phyllis Schlafly—that have much to commend.
— James Gilbert
Choice
An excellent start for anyone wanting to understand U.S. conservatism.
Journal of American History
Calling historians to go beyond synthesis to integration, Farber's book is an important step in this direction.
— Jennifer Burns
Pacific Historical Review
Unlike other staid syntheses of conservatism, Farber's draws out the quirky as well as the profound, the passion as well as the calculation of this movement, and always with a playful edge. It is, as a result, a scintillating read. . . . [A] vital, new interpretation of a pivotal movement and era in American history.
— Darren Dochuk
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Steven P. Miller
David Farber's new book . . . provides the kind of perspective that headline historians often miss. If readers can withstand their title shock, they will find much to admire in this engaging and accessible overview of the most influential movement in American politics during the past half-century.
Journal of American History - Jennifer Burns
Calling historians to go beyond synthesis to integration, Farber's book is an important step in this direction.
Pacific Historical Review - Darren Dochuk
Unlike other staid syntheses of conservatism, Farber's draws out the quirky as well as the profound, the passion as well as the calculation of this movement, and always with a playful edge. It is, as a result, a scintillating read. . . . [A] vital, new interpretation of a pivotal movement and era in American history.
H-Soz-u-Kult - James Gilbert
There are several important and interesting arguments that Farber makes along this narrative and one inspired choice of subject matter—Phyllis Schlafly—that have much to commend.
From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2010

"David Farber's new book . . . provides the kind of perspective that headline historians often miss. If readers can withstand their title shock, they will find much to admire in this engaging and accessible overview of the most influential movement in American politics during the past half-century."—Steven P. Miller, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"An excellent start for anyone wanting to understand U.S. conservatism."Choice

"Calling historians to go beyond synthesis to integration, Farber's book is an important step in this direction."—Jennifer Burns, Journal of American History

"Unlike other staid syntheses of conservatism, Farber's draws out the quirky as well as the profound, the passion as well as the calculation of this movement, and always with a playful edge. It is, as a result, a scintillating read. . . . [A] vital, new interpretation of a pivotal movement and era in American history."—Darren Dochuk, Pacific Historical Review

"There are several important and interesting arguments that Farber makes along this narrative and one inspired choice of subject matter—Phyllis Schlafly—that have much to commend."—James Gilbert, H-Soz-u-Kult

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
David Farber's new book . . . provides the kind of perspective that headline historians often miss. If readers can withstand their title shock, they will find much to admire in this engaging and accessible overview of the most influential movement in American politics during the past half-century.
— Steven P. Miller
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691129150
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/21/2010
  • Pages: 308
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David Farber is professor of history at Temple University. His many books include "Taken Hostage: The Iran Hostage Crisis and America's First Encounter with Radical Islam" and "What They Think of Us: International Perceptions of the United States since 9/11" (both Princeton).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii
Acknowledgments ix introduction 1
Chapter 0ne: Robert Taft: The Gray Men of Modern Conservatism and the Rights of Property 9
Chapter Two: William Buckley: Building the Conservative Political Culture 39
Chapter Three: Barry Goldwater: Cowboy Conservatism, Race Politics, and the Other Sixties 77
Chapter Four: Phyllis Schlafly: Domestic Conservatism and Social Order 119
Chapter Five: Ronald Reagan: The Conservative Hero 159
Chapter Six: George W. Bush: The Conservative Calling and the Great Crack-up 209
Conclusion 257
Notes 263
Index 285

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