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

Princeton University Press
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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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About 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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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 26, 2012
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Pages
312
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ISBN
9781400834297
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Modern / 20th Century
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Conservatism & Liberalism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran and took sixty-six Americans captive. Thus began the Iran Hostage Crisis, an affair that captivated the American public for 444 days and marked America's first confrontation with the forces of radical Islam. Using hundreds of recently declassified government documents, historian David Farber takes the first in-depth look at the hostage crisis, examining its lessons for America's contemporary War on Terrorism.

Unlike other histories of the subject, Farber's vivid and fast-paced narrative looks beyond the day-to-day circumstances of the crisis, using the events leading up to the ordeal as a means for understanding it. The book paints a portrait of the 1970s in the United States as an era of failed expectations in a nation plagued by uncertainty and anxiety. It reveals an American government ill prepared for the fall of the Shah of Iran and unable to reckon with the Ayatollah Khomeini and his militant Islamic followers.

Farber's account is filled with fresh insights regarding the central players in the crisis: Khomeini emerges as an astute strategist, single-mindedly dedicated to creating an Islamic state. The Americans' student-captors appear as less-than-organized youths, having prepared for only a symbolic sit-in with just a three-day supply of food. ABC news chief Roone Arledge, newly installed and eager for ratings, is cited as a critical catalyst in elevating the hostages to cause célèbre status.

Throughout the book there emerge eerie parallels to the current terrorism crisis. Then as now, Farber demonstrates, politicians failed to grasp the depth of anger that Islamic fundamentalists harbored toward the United States, and Americans dismissed threats from terrorist groups as the crusades of ineffectual madmen.

Taken Hostage is a timely and revealing history of America's first engagement with terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, one that provides a chilling reminder that the past is only prologue.

From the editor-at-large of Breitbart.com comes a galvanizing and alarming look at the strategy and tactics of leftist thuggery.

While President Obama and the left like to pretend that they oppose bullying with all their hearts and souls, the truth is far darker: the left is the greatest purveyor of bullying in modern American history. Bullying has morphed into the left’s go-to tactic, as they attempt to quash their opponents through fear, threat of force, violence, and rhetorical intimidation on every major issue facing America today.

Ben Shapiro uncovers the simple strategy used by liberals and their friends in the media: bully the living hell out of conservatives. Play the race card, the class card, the sexism card. Use any and every means at your disposal to demonize your opposition—to shut them up. Then pretend that such bullying is justified, because, after all, conservatives are the true bullies, and need to be taught a lesson for their intolerance. Hidden beneath the left’s supposed hatred of bullying lies a passionate love of its vulgar tactics.

The left has created a climate of fear wherein ordinary Americans must abandon their principles, back abhorrent causes, and remain silent. They believe America is a force for evil, that our military is composed of war criminals, and that patriotism is the deepest form of treason. They incite riots and threaten violence by playing the race card, then claim they’re advocates for tolerance. Disagree with Obama? You must be a racist. They send out union thugs and Occupy Wall Street anarchists to destroy businesses and redistribute the wealth of earners and job creators. No target is off limits as liberal feminists declare war against stay-at-home moms, and gay activists out their enemies, destroy careers, and desecrate personal privacy.

These are the most despicable people in America, bullying their opponents while claiming to be the victims. Shapiro takes on the leftist bullies, exposes their hypocrisy, and offers conservatives a reality check in the face of what has become the gravest threat to American liberty: the left’s single-minded focus on ending political debate through bully tactics.
This collection of original essays represents some of the most exciting ways in which historians are beginning to paint the 1960s onto the larger canvas of American history. While the first literature about this turbulent period was written largely by participants, many of the contributors to this volume are young scholars who came of age intellectually in the 1970s and 1980s and thus write from fresh perspectives.

The essayists ask fundamental questions about how much America really changed in the 1960s and why certain changes took place. In separate chapters, they explore how the great issues of the decade--the war in Vietnam, race relations, youth culture, the status of women, the public role of private enterprise--were shaped by evolutions in the nature of cultural authority and political legitimacy. They argue that the whirlwind of events and problems we call the Sixties can only be understood in the context of the larger history of post-World War II America.

Contents
"Growth Liberalism in the Sixties: Great Societies at Home and Grand Designs Abroad," by Robert M. Collins
"The American State and the Vietnam War: A Genealogy of Power," by Mary Sheila McMahon
"And That's the Way It Was: The Vietnam War on the Network Nightly News," by Chester J. Pach, Jr.
"Race, Ethnicity, and the Evolution of Political Legitimacy," by David R. Colburn and George E. Pozzetta
"Nothing Distant about It: Women's Liberation and Sixties Radicalism," by Alice Echols
"The New American Revolution: The Movement and Business," by Terry H. Anderson
"Who'll Stop the Rain?: Youth Culture, Rock 'n' Roll, and Social Crises," by George Lipsitz
"Sexual Revolution(s)," by Beth Bailey
"The Politics of Civility," by Kenneth Cmiel
"The Silent Majority and Talk about Revolution," by David Farber

Today, consumer credit, employee stock options, and citizen investment in the stock market are taken for granted--fundamental facts of American economic life. But few people realize that they were first widely promoted by John Jakob Raskob (1879-1950), the innovative financier and self-made businessman who built the Empire State building, made millions for DuPont and General Motors, and helped shape the contours of modern capitalism. David Farber's Everybody Ought to Be Rich is the first biography of Raskob, a man who shunned the limelight (he was the anti-Trump of his time) but whose impact on free market enterprise can hardly be overstated. A colorful figure, Raskob's life evokes the roaring twenties, the Catholic elite, the boardrooms of America's biggest corporations, and the rags-to-riches tale that is central to the American dream. Farber follows Raskob's remarkable trajectory from a teenage candy seller on the railway between Lockport and Buffalo to the pinnacles of wealth and power. With no formal education but possessed of a boundless energy and an unshakeable faith in individual initiative (his motto was "Go ahead and do something!"), Raskob partnered with great industrialists and financiers, buying up companies, leveraging investments, reorganizing corporations, funneling money into the political system, and creating new pools of credit for rich investors and middle class consumers alike--practices commonplace today but revolutionary at the time. His most famous innovation was mass consumer credit, which he offered to individual car buyers, enabling working and middle-class Americans to purchase GM's more expensive cars. Raskob desperately wanted to bridge class divides and to share the wealth American corporations were fast creating--so that everyone could be rich. Chronicling Raskob's short-comings as well as his successes, Everybody Ought to Be Rich illuminates a crucial but little-known figure in American capitalism whose influence can still be felt today.
Today, consumer credit, employee stock options, and citizen investment in the stock market are taken for granted--fundamental facts of American economic life. But few people realize that they were first widely promoted by John Jakob Raskob (1879-1950), the innovative financier and self-made businessman who built the Empire State building, made millions for DuPont and General Motors, and helped shape the contours of modern capitalism. David Farber's Everybody Ought to Be Rich is the first biography of Raskob, a man who shunned the limelight (he was the anti-Trump of his time) but whose impact on free market enterprise can hardly be overstated. A colorful figure, Raskob's life evokes the roaring twenties, the Catholic elite, the boardrooms of America's biggest corporations, and the rags-to-riches tale that is central to the American dream. Farber follows Raskob's remarkable trajectory from a teenage candy seller on the railway between Lockport and Buffalo to the pinnacles of wealth and power. With no formal education but possessed of a boundless energy and an unshakeable faith in individual initiative (his motto was "Go ahead and do something!"), Raskob partnered with great industrialists and financiers, buying up companies, leveraging investments, reorganizing corporations, funneling money into the political system, and creating new pools of credit for rich investors and middle class consumers alike--practices commonplace today but revolutionary at the time. His most famous innovation was mass consumer credit, which he offered to individual car buyers, enabling working and middle-class Americans to purchase GM's more expensive cars. Raskob desperately wanted to bridge class divides and to share the wealth American corporations were fast creating--so that everyone could be rich. Chronicling Raskob's short-comings as well as his successes, Everybody Ought to Be Rich illuminates a crucial but little-known figure in American capitalism whose influence can still be felt today.
On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran and took sixty-six Americans captive. Thus began the Iran Hostage Crisis, an affair that captivated the American public for 444 days and marked America's first confrontation with the forces of radical Islam. Using hundreds of recently declassified government documents, historian David Farber takes the first in-depth look at the hostage crisis, examining its lessons for America's contemporary War on Terrorism.

Unlike other histories of the subject, Farber's vivid and fast-paced narrative looks beyond the day-to-day circumstances of the crisis, using the events leading up to the ordeal as a means for understanding it. The book paints a portrait of the 1970s in the United States as an era of failed expectations in a nation plagued by uncertainty and anxiety. It reveals an American government ill prepared for the fall of the Shah of Iran and unable to reckon with the Ayatollah Khomeini and his militant Islamic followers.

Farber's account is filled with fresh insights regarding the central players in the crisis: Khomeini emerges as an astute strategist, single-mindedly dedicated to creating an Islamic state. The Americans' student-captors appear as less-than-organized youths, having prepared for only a symbolic sit-in with just a three-day supply of food. ABC news chief Roone Arledge, newly installed and eager for ratings, is cited as a critical catalyst in elevating the hostages to cause célèbre status.

Throughout the book there emerge eerie parallels to the current terrorism crisis. Then as now, Farber demonstrates, politicians failed to grasp the depth of anger that Islamic fundamentalists harbored toward the United States, and Americans dismissed threats from terrorist groups as the crusades of ineffectual madmen.

Taken Hostage is a timely and revealing history of America's first engagement with terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, one that provides a chilling reminder that the past is only prologue.

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