War Without End: Cultural Conflict and the Struggle for America's Political Future

Overview

America’s culture war – which pits traditionalists, unrelenting defenders of the social orthodoxy, against modernists, agitators for social change – has simmered and seethed since the birth of the nation. But in the turbulent decade of the 1960s, the culture war erupted in the political arena, where it thunders on today. War Without End examines how the evolution of cultural issues as political tools has rocked the balance of political power in America, from the period of the fractious 1968 presidential campaign ...

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Overview

America’s culture war – which pits traditionalists, unrelenting defenders of the social orthodoxy, against modernists, agitators for social change – has simmered and seethed since the birth of the nation. But in the turbulent decade of the 1960s, the culture war erupted in the political arena, where it thunders on today. War Without End examines how the evolution of cultural issues as political tools has rocked the balance of political power in America, from the period of the fractious 1968 presidential campaign to the contest for the White House and for the Congress in 2000. Through an expansive coverage of events – from Vietnam, Nixon, discrimination, abortion, economic imbalance, and morality in political behavior – Washington journalist Robert Shogan provides an objective and informed look at how Americans feel about themselves and their country in the first decade of the new millennium while the culture war rages on.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While a decisive, antagonistic split between the cultural left and right has been present in U.S. society for far longer than 30 years think, as Shogan notes, of the 1925 Scopes trial its decisive escalation since 1960 has lately made it a central aspect of national politics. This highly readable survey of the situation provides frequent insights into the ongoing war. Shogan, who spent 30 years covering Washington politics for Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times, is at his best when reminding us of the historical details we may have forgotten, ranging from the quirky (newly elected President Jimmy Carter urging federal employees: "those of you who are living in sin, I hope you'll get married") to the ironic (Pat Robertson, the son of a noted Democratic senator, was the head of an Adlai Stevenson for President Committee in 1956). Shogan is terrific when dealing with the details and the aftermath of a specific fight, such as Chicago mayor Richard Daley's order to "shoot to kill, shoot to maim" looters in 1968 or the defeat of Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court. But often Shogan's broad sweep renders his material superficial. Taking on such central issues as the ERA, homosexuality, federal funding for church-based schools, and abortion, he charts how the culture wars have shifted over the years. Never driven by polemics or a strong point of view, this is an engaging overview of the past 30 years of political struggle. (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Whether the future of American politics will continue to reflect the struggle between liberal, secular humanism and conservative, religious fundamentalism remains to be seen, but this book attempts to shed some light on the key people and events that have marked the last 40 years of the battle. Shogan, a retired journalist for Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times and author of nine other books on national politics, presents in nonchronological order the stories of the Clinton sex scandal, the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and the 1980, 1988, and 2000 presidential campaigns. In each case, the author spends considerable time establishing the personalities and motivations of the key players, from Bill Clinton and Ken Starr to Abbie Hoffman and Mayor Richard Daley to George W. Bush and Al Gore, among others. The main problem with the book is its rather simplistic explanation of the cultural, and particularly religious, differences that create the dynamic tension in American politics. A much better, though dated and more detailed, analysis of this subject is E.J. Dionne Jr.'s Why Americans Hate Politics. Though much of the material presented is not new, Shogan's book is entertaining reading. Recommended for all public libraries. Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, PA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Whose America: Ralph Reed's or Ralph Nader's, Jesse Helms's or Jesse Jackson's? Sounding a theme that was old even in Newt Gingrich's sad day, and about which much was written a decade and more ago, former Newsweek and Los Angeles Times political correspondent Shogan examines the "culture war" that obtains between liberals and conservatives, relativists and fundamentalists. Among the conflict's many victims, he counts Colin Powell, who came under fire by the Christian right because he dared suggest that the sexually active might want to wear condoms, and Al Gore, who, Shogan offers, lost the 2000 presidential race not because of vote-tampering or judicial coup, as other observers have suggested, but because Gore labored in the shadow of the "troublesome cultural profile of Bill Clinton." That may well be, of course, but Gore still carried the popular vote by half a million, which suggests that Americans have not been unduly troubled by the "cultural tensions" Clinton so ably exacerbated with his endless chasing after the pleasures of the flesh-and perhaps that the culture war is less significant than the author makes it out to be. Shogan works a couple of shaky premises-including his view that, at least ideally, politics and culture occupy separate domains, whereas the reality is that each influences the other at every turn--and seems sometimes to confuse his categories, as when he suggests that Clinton's call to end welfare was a "cultural theme" and not a political expedient. He then settles, more comfortably, into a well-worn groove, announcing that the culture wars of the 1990s are merely extensions of the culture wars of the 1960s, pitting America-firsters against Yippies,dope-smokers against martini-drinkers, men against women. That's a safe enough thesis, but one that others, such as David Brooks (Bobos in Paradise, 2000) and David Frum (How We Got Here, 2000), to say nothing of William Bennett, Gertrude Himmelfarb, and Allan Bloom, have addressed far more satisfactorily. Politics junkies may have fun batting Shogan's thesis around, but it's old news.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813397603
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 7/9/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Lexile: 1370L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.44 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Shogan has spent more than thirty years covering the political scene in Washington as national political correspondent for Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times. He is currently Adjunct Professor of Government at the Center for Study of American Government of Johns Hopkins University. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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