Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus
Brand: Hill and Wang

Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus

  • Publish Date: 2001-03-23
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Author: Rick Perlstein

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An astute and surprising account of the 1960s as the cradle of the Conservative movement

Before the Storm begins in a time much like the present--the tail end of the 1950s, with America affluent, confident, and convinced that political ideology was a thing of the past.

But when John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960, conservatives--editor William F. Buckley Jr., John Birch Society leader Robert Welch, and thousand of students--formed a movement to challenge the center-left consensus. They chose as their hero Barry Goldwater--a rich, handsome Arizona Republican who scorned the federal bureaucracy, reviled dtente, despised liberals on sight--and grew determined to see him elected President.

Goldwater was trounced by Lyndon Johnson in 1964. But by the campaign's end the consensus found itself squeezed from the left and the right; and two decades later, the conservatives had elected Ronald Reagan as President and Goldwater's ideas had been adopted by Republicans and Democrats alike.

The story of the rise of conservatism during a liberal era has never been told, and Rick Perlstein's gutsy narrative history is full of portraits of figures from Nelson Rockefeller to Bill Moyers. Perlstein argues that the 1964 election led to a key shift in U.S. politics--from concerns over threats from abroad to concerns about disorder at home; from campaigns plotted in back rooms to those staged for television.

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