In an astute and surprising history of the 1960s as the cradle of the conservative movement, Perlstein's gutsy narrative history profiles the rise of Barry Goldwater, the rich, handsome Arizona Republican who scorned the federal bureaucracy and despised liberals on sight.16 pp. of photos.In an astute and surprising history of the 1960s as the cradle of the conservative movement, Perlstein's gutsy narrative history profiles the rise of Barry Goldwater, the rich, handsome Arizona Republican who scorned the federal bureaucracy and despised liberals on sight.16 pp. of photos.Read Less
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-- if you're interested in the dark side of the 60s and the rise of the current version of the Republicans. Essentially, Perlstein's Nixonland, which is better, picks up where this book leaves off.
Apr 14, 2009
Hard to put down
Before the Storm is written in a fluid, suspenseful manner that makes it hard to put down. I just couldn't stop reading. I read it during a week of illness and it actually made the week almost enjoyable. The book provides a tremendous amount of information on the origins of the modern conservative movement in the United States, using fascinating everyday details as well as the history of what was going on in the country and the world at the time. It helps explain what happened after the 1964 election and what's going on today, and it's a time machine for a trip back to the early 1960's. A great book.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-01-29 In the 1964 presidential campaign, LBJ ate Barry Goldwater for lunch and thereby, according to the pundits, stuck a fork in the heart of American conservatism. But Goldwater's politics were vindicated, Perlstein argues, by subsequent elections, especially Reagan's in 1980, and his tenets are championed today on both sides of the aisle. Perhaps. What's more important about Perlstein's argument is its subtext. By casting the senator as the long-term winner, Perlstein's chronicle vindicates what appears to have been Goldwater's magnificently ham-handed campaign. Conservative readers will cringe at the missed opportunities and wrongheaded tactics; the scattered and mismanaged themes, including Goldwater's crippling clarion call for extremism; the extremists who embraced him; and the backroom machinations and supporters that in many ways created Goldwater. Certainly they'll see Nixon and Reagan in an unlikely light: using the deck of the sinking ship Goldwater as a platform for their own careers. Liberal readers, on the other hand, will approach the pinnacle of schadenfreude. And they'll either be peeved or amused by Perlstein's unabashed partisanship, perhaps best shown in his observation that LBJ's deputy Bill Moyers pioneered dirty campaign tactics: "the full-time-espionage, sabotage, and mudslinging unit." Aptly casting conservativism as the triumphant underdog, Perlstein observes that "in 1995 Bill Clinton paid Reagan tribute by adopting many of his political positions. Which had also been Barry Goldwater's positions. Here is one time, at least, in which history was written by the losers." With Republicans again in the ascendancy, this account of their fall and subsequent rise should interest readers of all political stripes. Illus. not seen by PW. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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