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Most historians agree that, by the end of the 1960s, the conservative branch of the Republican Party had largely taken control of party direction. The “Reagan Revolution” of 1980 secured the GOP for conservatives, and while the events of the 2008 election may prompt considerable soulsearching, the party of Lincoln has maintained an undeniably conservative ideological orientation for almost 30 years. Too often, scholars have regarded the process of conservative transformation as a foregone conclusion. Historian Laura Gifford offers an innovative examination of the 1960 presidential election that restores an essential sense of contingency to the process.
In the years prior to 1960, the GOP could have taken its agenda from a number of sources and pursued a number of directions. By the end of the 1960 campaign, however, Republican liberals had lost the battle over the party’s future, and thereafter conservatives would take the lead in formulating GOP policy. The initial establishment of control over the party’s future direction marked the first step toward the culmination of modern conservatism in Reagan’s election. While liberals and conservatives were equally optimistic about their futures in the Republican Party in January 1960, by December a fundamental shift in power had taken place.
The Center Cannot Hold provides an analysis of interactions between three key party leaders—liberal Nelson Rockefeller, conservative Barry Goldwater, and moderate Richard Nixon—and six key constituencies: liberals, African Americans, conservative intellectuals, youth, Southerners, and ethnic Americans. Gifford’s study of these interactions demonstrates that conservatives successfully used grassroots organizations to develop networks that could push the Republican Party in a rightward direction. Furthermore, conservative leaders responded to their supporters more effectively than did liberal and moderate leaders. Ultimately, individuals and groups possessed the means to alter the shape of the American party system.
The term "conservative," when employed today in reference to politicians and beliefs, can denote groups as diverse and incompatible as the religious right, libertarians, and opponents of large, centralized government. Yet the original conservative philosophy, first developed in the eighteenth century by Edmund Burke, was most concerned with managing change. This kind of genuine conservatism has a renewed relevance in a complex world where change is rapid, pervasive, and dislocating.
In Conservatism, Kieron O’Hara presents a thought-provoking revision of the traditional conservative philosophy, here crafted for the modern age. As O’Hara argues, conservatism transcends traditional politics and has surprising applications—not least as the most appropriate and practical response to climate change. He shows what a properly conservative ideology looks like today, and draws on such great conservative thinkers as Burke and Adam Smith, philosophers from Plato to Wittgenstein, and contemporary social commentators such as Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Ulrich Beck, and Jared Diamond, in order to outline how conservative philosophy lays bare our failure to understand our own society. O’Hara proves as well that conservatism is distinct from neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism, and the extreme positions of many of today’s most outspoken commentators.
In this comprehensive and detailed description of a philosophy of change and innovation, O’Hara shows how conservatism can be an ideology sensitive to cultural differences among the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere. As well, he highlights key issues of technology, trust, and privacy. Conservatism is a provocative read and a level-headed guide to cutting through the many voices of policy makers and pundits claiming to represent conservative points of view.
Consumers of American media find themselves in a news world that has shifted toward more conservative reporting. This book takes a measured, historical view of the shift, addressing factors that include the greater skill with which conservatives have used the media, the media’s gradual trend toward conservatism, the role of religion, and the effects of media conglomeration. The book makes the case that the media have managed to not only enable today’s conservative resurgence but also ignore, largely, the consequences of that change for the American people.
Goodall portrays a world caught up in the middle of a narrative arms race, where the message of the political right has outflanked the message of the political left. It is a world where narratives used by the far right inch ever closer to those employed by right-wing extremists in the Muslim world. Rather than dismiss the use of political narratives as a shallow tactic of the opposition, Goodall promotes their usefulness and outlines a number of ways that liberal academics can retake the public discourse from the extremist opposition. This is an essential text for the aspiring public intellectual and will appeal to students and scholars of qualitative methods, communications and media, and political science alike.
In The Eccentric Realist, Mario Del Pero questions Henry Kissinger's reputation as the foreign policy realist par excellence. Del Pero shows that Kissinger has been far more ideological and inconsistent in his policy formulations than is commonly realized.
Del Pero considers the rise and fall of Kissinger's foreign policy doctrine over the course of the 1970s-beginning with his role as National Security Advisor to Nixon and ending with the collapse of détente with the Soviet Union after Kissinger left the scene as Ford's outgoing Secretary of State. Del Pero shows that realism then (not unlike realism now) was as much a response to domestic politics as it was a cold, hard assessment of the facts of international relations. In the early 1970s, Americans were weary of ideological forays abroad; Kissinger provided them with a doctrine that translated that political weariness into foreign policy. Del Pero argues that Kissinger was keenly aware that realism could win elections and generate consensus. Moreover, over the course of the 1970s it became clear that realism, as practiced by Kissinger, was as rigid as the neoconservativism that came to replace it.
In the end, the failure of the détente forged by the realists was not the defeat of cool reason at the hands of ideologically motivated and politically savvy neoconservatives. Rather, the force of American exceptionalism, the touchstone of the neocons, overcame Kissinger's political skills and ideological commitments. The fate of realism in the 1970s raises interesting questions regarding its prospects in the early years of the twenty-first century.
The statesman and political philosopher Edmund Burke (1729-1797) is a touchstone for modern conservatism in the United States, and his name and his writings have been invoked by figures ranging from the arch Federalist George Cabot to the twentieth-century political philosopher Leo Strauss. But Burke's legacy has neither been consistently associated with conservative thought nor has the richness and subtlety of his political vision been fully appreciated by either his American admirers or detractors. In Edmund Burke in America, Drew Maciag traces Burke's reception and reputation in the United States, from the contest of ideas between Burke and Thomas Paine in the Revolutionary period, to the Progressive Era (when Republicans and Democrats alike invoked Burke's wisdom), to his apotheosis within the modern conservative movement.
Throughout, Maciag is sensitive to the relationship between American opinions about Burke and the changing circumstances of American life. The dynamic tension between conservative and liberal attitudes in American society surfaced in debates over the French Revolution, Jacksonian democracy, Gilded Age values, Progressive reform, Cold War anticommunism, and post-1960s liberalism. The post-World War II rediscovery of Burke by New Conservatives and their adoption of him as the "father of conservatism" provided an intellectual foundation for the conservative ascendancy of the late twentieth century. Highlighting the Burkean influence on such influential writers as George Bancroft, E. L. Godkin, and Russell Kirk, Maciag also explores the underappreciated impact of Burke's thought on four U.S. presidents: John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson. Through close and keen readings of political speeches, public lectures, and works of history and political theory and commentary, Maciag offers a sweeping account of the American political scene over two centuries.
"A magisterially written, well-researched, informative, and entertaining biography of a woman who helped throw open the doors to broader participation and power for women in the Republican Party and American politics."
---Dave Dempsey, author of William G. Milliken: Michigan's Passionate Moderate
"Elly Peterson will be a text to which historians and researchers turn for insight into the yin and yang of mainstream politics in the mid-century."
---Patricia Sullivan, past president, Journalism and Women Symposium
"This lively portrait of a leading woman in the Republican Party between 1952 and 1982 also charts the party's shift to the right after 1964, revealingly viewed through the eyes of liberal Republican women. Intensively researched with ethnographic attention to the subtleties of political culture, Fitzgerald's book is essential reading for anyone interested in how the Republican Party changed during the turbulent decades after 1960 and how women and women's issues shaped those changes."
---Kathryn Kish Sklar, Distinguished Professor of History, State University of New York, Binghamton
"Sara Fitzgerald tells Peterson's story in this superb and timely biography. It carries a message that deserves the widest audience as the nation struggles to find needed consensus on critical issues amid poisonous political partisanship that has made it increasingly difficult for public officials to bridge their differences. I hope that every American reads it."
---Pulitzer Prize winner Haynes Johnson, from the Foreword
"To understand the quest for equal rights in America you really need to meet those women who were active at the time of transition. In this gripping biography we meet one woman who entered a male dominated world and triumphed."
---Francis X. Blouin Jr., Director, Bentley Historical Library
"Sara Fitzgerald's writing is as intelligent as it is entertaining."
---Best-selling novelist Diane Chamberlain
Elly Peterson was one of the highest ranking women in the Republican Party. In 1964 she ran for a Michigan seat in the U.S. Senate and became the first woman to serve as chair of the Michigan Republican Party. During the 1960s she grew disenchanted with the increasing conservatism of her party, united with other feminists to push for the Equal Rights Amendment and reproductive choice, battled Phyllis Schlafly to prevent her from gaining control of the National Federation of Republican Women, and became an independent.
Elly Peterson's story is a missing chapter in the political history of Michigan, as well as the United States. This new biography, written by Sara Fitzgerald (a Michigan native and former Washington Post editor), finally gives full credit to one of the first female political leaders in this country.
When Peterson resigned in 1970 as assistant chairman of the Republican National Committee, David Broder of the Washington Post wrote that "her abilities would have earned her the national chairmanship, were it not for the unwritten sex barrier both parties have erected around that job."
“The great unsung hero of the conservative movement” —MARK LEVIN
If Not Us, Who? is both the story of an architect of the modern conservative movement and a colorful journey through a half century of high-level politics.
Best known as the longtime publisher of National Review, William Rusher (1923–2011) was more than just a crucial figure in the history of the Right’s leading magazine. He was a political intellectual, tactician, and strategist who helped shape the historic rise of conservatism.
To write If Not Us, Who?, David B. Frisk pored over Rusher’s voluminous papers at the Library of Congress and interviewed dozens of insiders, including National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., in addition to Rusher himself. The result is a gripping biography, authorized yet independent, that shines new light on Rusher’s significance as an observer and an activist while bringing to life more than a generation’s worth of political hopes, fears, and controversies.
Frisk vividly captures the joys and struggles at National Review, including Rusher’s complex relationship with the legendary Buckley. Here we see the powerful blend of wit, erudition, dedication, shrewdness, and earnestness that made Rusher an influential figure at NR and an indispensable link between conservatism’s leading theorists and its political practitioners.
“If not us, who? If not now, when?”—a maxim often attributed to Ronald Reagan—could have been Rusher’s motto. In everything he did—publishing National Review, recruiting and advising political candidates, organizing cadres of young conservatives, taking on liberal advocates in a popular television debate program, writing a syndicated column—his objective was to build a movement. And he constantly exhorted his colleagues to step up as leaders of that movement. His tireless efforts proved essential to conservatism’s ascendancy, from the pivotal Goldwater campaign through the Reagan era.
Largely unexamined until now, Rusher’s career opens a new window onto the history of the conservative movement, its successes and failures. This comprehensive biography reintroduces readers to a remarkable man of thought and action.
Among politicians of national stature today, there is perhaps none more respected as a principled conservative than Rick Santorum. In It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, Santorum articulates the humane vision that he believes must inform public policy if it is to be effective and just. An appreciation for the civic bonds that unite a community lies at the heart of genuine conservatism. Moreover, Santorum demonstrates how such an approach to political, social, and economic problems offers the most promise for those on the margin of life: the poor, the vulnerable, and minorities who have often been excluded from opportunity in America.
Santorum argues that conservative statesmanship is animated by a sense of stewardship for an inheritance. But what do we inherit as Americans? And how can we be good stewards of that inheritance? Building on Robert Putnam’s discussion of “social capital,” the habits of association and trust that are the preconditions of any decent society, Santorum assesses how well, in the past generation, Americans have cared for the “fabric” of society. He explores in detail various dimensions of social and cultural connection that are the foundation of the common good. And he presents innovative policy proposals for the renewal of American society at all levels.
Throughout his book, Santorum emphasizes the central role of the family—in contradistinction to the metaphorical “village” of the federal government, as promoted by Hillary Clinton—in achieving the common good. With a sustained argument touching on first principles throughout, this ambitious and original book is a major contribution to contemporary political debate. It Takes a Family further establishes Santorum as the leader of reform-minded civic conservatives in America.
Since November’s election, conservative columnists have filled the op-ed pages with calls for a new conservative agenda. In The Next Conservatism, two of the conservative movement’s best-known thinkers, Paul M. Weyrich and William S. Lind, offer exactly that. More, they offer a new kind of conservative agenda, one that reaches far beyond politics to grapple with the sources of our nation’s cultural decay.
The Next Conservatism recognizes that culture is more powerful than politics. Nevertheless, it offers an engaging menu of political reforms, all under the rubric of “Restore the Republic!” No enthusiasts of Imperial America at home or abroad, Weyrich and Lind seek limited government, jealous guardianship of civil liberties, and a Washington liberated from the power of the New Class, the interests that feed off our nation’s decay. To these frequent conservative themes, Weyrich and Lind offer something new: a warning of a general crisis of legitimacy of the state itself, which can lead to a Hobbesian state of anarchy. How might we save the state while avoiding the jaws of Leviathan? The Next Conservatism offers innovative ways to thread that needle.
Meanwhile, what of America’s culture? Did its decay over the past half-century “just happen”? Weyrich and Lind argue no; rather, much of our degradation was deliberate, the work of the poisonous ideology of cultural Marxism, aka “Political Correctness.” The Next Conservatism takes the reader on a fascinating historical tour of the origins of Political Correctness in the infamous Frankfurt School, a gathering of heretical Marxists whose goal from the outset was the destruction of Western culture.
Weyrich and Lind then proceed to “deconstruct” the left’s program for America, debunking Feminism, “racism,” and environmentalism along the way. Reflecting the thought of Russell Kirk, The Next Conservatism condemns ideologies left and right, calling instead for a return to traditional ways of living, ways that reflect wisdom accumulated generation by generation. Only thus, they argue, can conservatives win a culture war many regard as hopelessly lost.
Old ways, in turn, lead to a Next Conservatism appropriate for hard times. Virtue, Weyrich and Lind offer, is to be found in modest living, not conspicuous consumption. The Next Conservative agenda rejects environmentalism but includes conservation, the return of the family farm, New Urbanism and the revival of such ‘oldies but goodies” as streetcars and passenger trains. A new theme, Retroculture, sums up a conservatism that recognizes that what worked in the past can work again today, and in the future as well. Our ancestors were no fools, the authors suggest, and “Back to the Future!” can serve as a powerful conservative rallying cry.
Having laid the political and cultural groundwork, The Next Conservatism then turns to conservative governance. In foreign policy, the authors call for minimizing foreign entanglements, though with a strong national defense and a military reform to adapt to face Fourth Generation warfare rather than the Second Generation America adheres to. For the economy, the authors call for repairing and expanding our national infrastructure, sound money, and protecting American industry, seeing labor as a potential ally. In both national security and economic security, the authors insist that good governance include moral security; drawing from the New Urbanism, they offer a “moral transect” that allows everyone to do what he wants, but not always where he wants. The public square, they suggest, should be safe for families.
Respecting the careful limits on government power a restored republic would embody, The Next Conservatism calls for redeeming America not through legislation but through a new conservative movement. Unlike the old movement, the next conservative movement would be a league of people who pledged to live their lives by the old rules. While conservatives would remain engaged in politics, they would rely on a vastly more powerful force of example, the examples of lives lived well in traditional ways. This next conservative movement would appeal far beyond the ranks of political conservatives, to all Americans who know that something has gone tragically wrong in the life of our nation.
The Next Conservatism offers a vision of vast sweep, far beyond anything coming out of Washington. At a time when most Americans find life growing more difficult, it proposes a path to a new America that is also the old America, the good, comfortable America we had and have lost.
Author of The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk (1918–1994) was a principal architect of the American intellectual conservative movement. This book takes a closer look at his works on such subjects as law, history, economics, and statesmanship to introduce a new generation of readers to the depth and range of his thought.
Kirk probed the very meaning of conservatism for modern intellectuals, and in The Postmodern Imagination of Russell Kirk, Gerald Russello examines such key concepts of his thought as imagination, historical consciousness, the interplay between the individual and tradition, and the role of narrative in constructing individual and societal identity. By stressing the importance of Kirk’s perception of imagination, he offers a new approach to understanding him, showing not only that Kirk laid the groundwork for the “new conservatism” of the 1950s and ’60s, but also that his work evolved into a sophisticated critique of modernity paralleled in the work of some postmodern critics of liberalism.
In order to reconstruct Kirk’s attack on modernity, Russello examines his textbook on economics, his fiction, his work on Robert Taft and Orestes Brownson, his writings on the role of the statesman, and his neglected essays such as “The Age of Discussion” and “The Age of Sentiments.” Russello shows that Kirk welcomed the rise of some form of postmodernism, seeing in it a new opportunity for conservatism to engage the wider culture. Through this analysis, he situates Kirk within wider currents of contemporary thought, connecting him not only with such major thinkers as Lyotard, Boorstin, and Koestler but also with such lesser-known figures as Bernard Iddings Bell, Charles Baudouin, and Christopher Dawson.
By examining Kirk’s development of the imagination as a tool of conservative discourse, Russello offers an alternative genealogy for conservative thought that melds its antimodernism with postmodern themes. He has forged a lively and provocative work that provides unusual perspectives on Kirk within the wider context of debate over the future of conservatism in a time of shifting alliances—a book that will be a valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand Kirk or conservative thought.
Much like today, the early twentieth century was a period of rising economic inequality and political polarization in America. But it was also an era of progressive reform—a time when the Russell Sage Foundation and other philanthropic organizations were established to promote social science as a way to solve the crises of industrial capitalism. In Social Science for What? Alice O’Connor relates the history of philanthropic social science, exploring its successes and challenges over the years, and asking how these foundations might continue to promote progressive social change in our own politically divided era.
The philanthropic foundations established in the early 1900s focused on research which, while intended to be objective, was also politically engaged. In addition to funding social science research, in its early years the Russell Sage Foundation also supported social work and advocated reforms on issues from child welfare to predatory lending. This reformist agenda shaped the foundation’s research priorities and methods. The Foundation’s landmark Pittsburgh Survey of wage labor, conducted in 1907-1908, involved not only social scientists but leaders of charities, social workers, and progressive activists, and was designed not simply to answer empirical questions, but to reframe the public discourse about industrial labor. After World War II, many philanthropic foundations disengaged from political struggles and shifted their funding toward more value-neutral, academic social inquiry, in the belief that disinterested research would yield more effective public policies. Consequently, these foundations were caught off guard in the 1970s and 1980s by the emergence of a network of right-wing foundations, which was successful in promoting an openly ideological agenda. In order to counter the political in-roads made by conservative organizations, O’Connor argues that progressive philanthropic research foundations should look to the example of their founders. While continuing to support the social science research that has contributed so much to American society over the past 100 years, they should be more direct about the values that motivate their research. In this way, they will help foster a more democratic dialogue on important social issues by using empirical knowledge to engage fundamentally ethical concerns about rising inequality.
O’Connor’s message is timely: public-interest social science faces unprecedented challenges in this era of cultural warfare, as both liberalism and science itself have come under assault. Social Science for What? is a thought-provoking critique of the role of social science in improving society and an indispensable guide to how progressives can reassert their voice in the national political debate.
A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Centennial Series
The Transformation of the Christian Right chronicles and analyzes the remarkable changes that have occurred in the Christian Right from its emergence in the late 1970s to the present. It documents the rapid turnover of Christian-Right organizations and explains the forces driving that kaleidoscopic change. Moen also traces the strategic shift of the movement’s leaders, away from lobbying the Congress and toward mobilizing conservative activists in the grass roots; he demonstrates the substitution of liberal language (with its emphasis on “equality, rights, and freedom”) for moralistic language (with its focus on “right and wrong”). Much has been written about the Christian Right’s impact on politics but little about how years of political activism have shaped and influenced the Christian Right. Moen addresses that neglected side of the issue.
Ever since the reelection of President Bush, conservative Christians have been stereotyped in the popular media: Bible-thumping militants and anti-intellectual zealots determined to impose their convictions on such matters as evolution, school prayer, pornography, abortion, and homosexuality on the rest of us. But conservative Christians are not as fanatical or intractable as many people think, nor are they necessarily the monolithic voting block or political base that kept Bush in power.
Andrew M. Greeley and Michael Hout's eye-opening book expertly conveys the complexity, variety, and sensibilities of conservative Christians, dispelling the myths that have long shrouded them in prejudice and political bias. For starters, Greeley and Hout reveal that class and income have trumped moral issues for these Americans more often than we realize: a dramatic majority of working-class and lower-class conservative Christians backed liberals such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton during their runs for president. And when it comes to abortion, most conservative Christians are not consistently pro-life in the absolute fashion usually assumed: they are still more likely to oppose the practice than other Americans, but 86 percent of them are willing to tolerate it to protect the health of the mother or when the woman has been raped, and 22 percent of them are even pro-choice.
What do conservative Christians really think about evolution, homosexuality, or even the meaning of the word of God? Answering these questions and more, The Truth about Conservative Christians will interest—and surprise—a broad range of readers, especially in this heated election year.
The first book-length interpretation of the new conservative leaders of America's largest Protestant denomination.
Uneasy in Babylon is based on extensive interviews with the most important Southern Baptist conservatives who have assumed control of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Known to many Americans from their appearances on national TV talk shows, such as Larry King Live and Fox News, they advocate a return to traditional values throughout the country. Hankins shows how differing cultural perceptions help explain the great chasm that developed between fundamentalists in the SBC and the moderates who preceded them as leaders of the denomination.
High economic growth and relatively equitable distribution were among the most conspicuous characteristics of the postwar Japanese political economy. The lure of the Japanese model, however, has faded since the 1990s. Growth is in short supply and equality a thing of the past. In Welfare through Work, Mari Miura looks in depth at Japan's social protection system as a factor in the contemporary malaise of the Japanese political economy.
The Japanese social protection system should be understood as a system of "welfare through work," Miura suggests, because employment protection has functionally substituted for income maintenance. A gendered dual system in the labor market allowed a high degree of labor market flexibility, which enabled Japan to achieve high employment rates as well as strong legal protections for regular workers. In recent years, conservatives gradually replaced the productivism and cooperatism that had resulted from earlier party politics with neoliberalism, which, in turn, hampered the effectiveness of the welfare through work system.
In Miura's view, the dynamics of partisan competition fostered ideational renewal, just as the political visions and ideologies of the governing party strongly affected the design of the social protection system. In the scenario Miura describes, the partisan dynamics since the 1990s resulted in the policy change that further undermined the social protection system, and the ensuing disruption has been felt throughout Japan.
“If you want to understand not only the rise of the modern conservative movement but also how conservatives can regain their footing during these perilous times, you must read William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement. Lee Edwards, himself a conservative icon, describes in beautiful and concise prose the brilliance that was Buckley. The book, like Buckley, is fascinating, compelling, and edifying.”
—Mark R. Levin, bestselling author of Liberty and Tyranny, nationally syndicated radio host
“Who: William F. Buckley Jr. What: Changing American political and intellectual culture. When: 1925–2008. Where: Postwar Yale, China with Mao and Nixon, the NR conference room table. How: Lee Edwards, who knew the principles and lived the history, explains it all in this compact, complete synopsis.”
—Richard Brookhiser, author of Right Time, Right Place: Coming of Age with William F. Buckley Jr. and the Conservative Movement
The modern-day Renaissance man who forged the conservative movement
The polysyllabic vocabulary, the wit, the charm, the sailing adventures, the spy novels—all of these have become part of the William F. Buckley Jr. legend. But to consider only Buckley’s charisma and ceaseless energy is to miss that above all he was committed to advancing ideas.
Now, noted conservative historian Lee Edwards, who knew Bill Buckley for more than forty years, delivers a much-needed intellectual biography of the man has been called “arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States in the past half century.” In this concise and compelling book, Edwards reveals how Buckley did more than any other person to build the conservative movement. Once derided as a set of “irritable mental gestures,” conservatism became, under Buckley’s guidance, a political and intellectual force that transformed America.
As conservatives debate the ideas that should drive their movement, William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movementreminds us of the principles that animated Buckley, as well as the thinkers who inspired him. The four most important intellectual influences on this great molder of American conservatism, Edwards shows, were libertarian author and social critic Albert Jay Nock, conservative political scientist Willmoore Kendall, former Soviet spy Whittaker Chambers, and realpolitik apostle James Burnham. Having dug deep into the voluminous Buckley papers, Edwards also illuminates the profound influence of Buckley’s close-knit family and his unwavering Catholic faith.
Edwards brilliantly captures the free spirit and unbounded energy of the conservative polymath, but he also shows that Buckley did not succeed merely on the strength of a winning personality. Rather, Buckley’s achievements were the result of a long series of quite deliberate political acts—many of them overlooked today.
William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movementtells the incredible story of a man who could have been a playboy, sailing his yacht and skiing in Switzerland, but who chose to be the St. Paul of the conservative movement, carrying the message far and wide. Lee Edwards shows how and why it happened—and the remarkable results.
Brennan details the actions and experiences of prominent anti-communists Jean Kerr McCarthy, Margaret Chase Smith, Freda Utley, Doloris Thauwald Bridges, Elizabeth Churchill Brown, and Phyllis Stewart Schlafly. She describes the Cold War context in which these women functioned and the ways in which women saw communism as a very real danger to domestic security and American families. Millions of women, Brennan notes, expanded their notions of household responsibilities to include the crusade against communism. From writing letters and hosting teas to publishing books and running for political office, they campaigned against communism and, incidentally, discovered the power they had to effect change through activism.
Brennan reveals how the willingness of these deeply conservative women to leave the domestic sphere and engage publicly in politics evinces the depth of America's postwar fear of communism. She further argues that these conservative, anti-communist women pushed the boundaries of traditional gender roles and challenged assumptions about women as political players by entering political life to publicly promote their ideals.Wives, Mothers, and the Red Menace offers a fascinating analysis of gender and politics at a critical point in American history. Brennan's work will instigate discussions among historians, political scientists, and scholars of women's studies.