Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism and the Transformation of American Politics

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Combining biography with regional and national history, Dan T. Carter chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of George Wallace, a populist who abandoned his ideals to become a national symbol of racism, and later begged for forgiveness. In The Politics of Rage, Carter argues persuasively that the four-time Alabama governor and four-time presidential candidate helped to establish the conservative political movement that put Ronald Reagan in the White House in 1980 and gave Newt Gingrich and the Republicans control ...
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The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism and the Transformation of American Politics

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Overview

Combining biography with regional and national history, Dan T. Carter chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of George Wallace, a populist who abandoned his ideals to become a national symbol of racism, and later begged for forgiveness. In The Politics of Rage, Carter argues persuasively that the four-time Alabama governor and four-time presidential candidate helped to establish the conservative political movement that put Ronald Reagan in the White House in 1980 and gave Newt Gingrich and the Republicans control of Congress in 1994. In this second edition, Carter updates Wallace's story with a look at the politician's death and the nation's reaction to it and gives a summary of his own sense of the legacy of "the most important loser in twentieth-century American politics.".

In the first unauthorized study of George Wallace and his legacy in 20 years, Carter builds upon decades of research to show how Wallace's campaign of "segregation forever" transcended regional parochialism to evolve into a national conservative, anti-Washington constituency. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite the title, this book is mainly an interpretive biography of former Alabama governor Wallace, with few revelations but more of a skeptical edge than Stephan Lesher's recent authorized bio, George Wallace: American Populist. This book argues, contra Lesher, that Wallace did in fact vow not to be ``out-niggered.'' A history professor at Emory University, Carter Scottsboro has produced a detailed and readable account of Wallace-``the most influential loser in twentieth-century American politics''-as political animal, driven by ambition far more than by ideology, with a disarmingly folksy personal style. On the wrong side in so many civil rights-era clashes, from Bull Connor's brutality in Birmingham to the admitting of black students to the state university, Wallace nonetheless tapped the ``Southernization'' of suburban and ethnic white America, thereby fueling his two presidential bids. Though his crippling in a 1972 assassination attempt ended his political career, Wallace, as the author states in a coda, anticipated ``the conservative groundswell that transformed American politics in the 1980s.'' Oct.
Library Journal
Historian Carter's biography of the former Alabama governor and presidential candidate emphasizes Wallace's ability to exploit white racism and social conservatism to further his political career. It contends that he gave voice to themes that were to be used effectively by Republican politicians in their electoral victories of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Carter concludes that Wallace was the "most influential loser in twentieth century American politics." Another recent biographer, Stephen Lesher George Wallace: American Populist, LJ 3/1/94, attributes to him an even wider influence-one affecting liberal and conservative politicians of both major parties. Carter's work has the more complete account of Wallace's administrations as governor and of his political campaigns, while Lesher's biography offers more insight into Wallace as a person. Academic libraries should have both volumes. For other collections, either would be an acceptable choice.-Thomas H. Ferrell, Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette
Mary Carroll
Though our ever-shortening national attention span seems to convince many Americans that Newt Gingrich or Ronald Reagan invented the "New Conservatism," Emory University historian Carter argues cogently that Alabama governor and four-time presidential candidate Wallace was in fact "the alchemist [who compounded] racial fear, anticommunism, cultural nostalgia, and traditional right-wing economics into a movement that laid the foundation for the conservative counterrevolution." This is at once a perceptive unauthorized biography of George Corley Wallace--based on thorough archival and secondary research and dozens of interviews--and a thoughtful analysis of Wallace's "critical role in what writer John Egerton has called "the Americanization of Dixie and the Southernization of America." Readers who still wonder how the "mainstream" shifted so far to the right, how oversimplification, polarization, and "blaming the victim" became so fashionable, and how nationalism, racism, and religious fundamentalism could become litmus tests of political correctness in a secular democracy would do well to read "The Politics of Rage".
The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 28, No. 2 (Autumn, 1997) - Charles S. Bullock, III
Carter thoroughly explored original and secondary sources, and he conducted an impressive array of interviews with fifty-one family members, political associates, opponents, and members of the press. From this wealth of materials, he recreates the fear and uncertainty that decent southerners felt when Wallace's calls for non-compliance with federal civil rights demands stirred the hearts and hands of the mobs that killed the agents of change and poisoned wells that have yet to be cleansed.
The American Historical Review, Vol. 102, No. 3 (Jun., 1997) - William C. Berman
Dan T. Carter has captured the main elements of George Wallace's life and career in a well-crafted, insightful, and solidly researched biography. His story provides the reader with a fuller understanding as to how and why Wallace went as far as he did in state and national politics. The key, of course, is race, which was the card Wallace played at every turn to advance his political fortunes.
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The story behind the rise of George Wallace & the origins of the "new conservatism." The author builds upon a decade of research to explain how Wallace transcended his regional parochialism to become the voice of the silent majority. B&W photos.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684809168
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 10/27/1995
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 6.41 (w) x 9.53 (h) x 1.57 (d)

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