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Of conservatives and their antagonists including William F Buckley Nelson Rockefeller and Bill Moyers Vividly written Before the Storm is an essential book about the 1960s. If you read Before The Storm after Nixonland as I did be warned the fluency and fury of that book is absent Before The Storm is a denser focused read casting Perlstein as a historian s historian fusing the great narrative tradition of Anglo Saxon history writing with the ultra detailed thick description of the continental schools It s still a blast but the thick description is at times very thick the detail of convention politicking as much re enactment as analysis Perlstein doesn t need to spell his conclusions out too much if you don t come away from Before The Storm believing the received wisdom about youth and the 1960s leaves half the story out then what book were you readingPerlstein is on the left himself but as a historian that doesn t matter he s drawn to energy and political wiles even when they re malicious if his Nixon isn t uite the Shakespearean monster of his second book he s still the most compelling of the B cast here And Perlstein despises folly and complacency particularly in the pundit class There is plenty of it to go around Before The Storm and Perlstein s work in general is among the most righteous fruit of Gen X s simmering love hate arrangement with the Baby Boomer left He can t settle on which horrifies him most their unreasonable conviction that they would win or their later hallucination that they did He s a liberal writing Whig history as horror where the placid teleology of progressivism is recast as the docile idiocy of teenagers in a slasher flick with Perlstein in the audience shaking his head as liberal America insists on skinny dipping at midnight or just going to see what that noise in the cellar was

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

Acclaimed historian Rick Perlstein chronicles the rise of the conservative movement in the liberal 1960s At the heart of the story is Barry Goldwater the renegade Republic. Imagine you live in a town of twenty or fifty or one hundred thousand soulswith a colonnaded red brick city hall at its center a Main Street running its breadth avenues ringed with modest bungalows and named for trees and exotic heroes and local luminaries interrupted at intervals by high steepled churches On the outskirts of town are factories It is June 1959 and three shifts a day they throw up great clouds of smoke churning out vast pools of cement cords of lumber spools of rolled steel machine parts of every size and description Although no one who didn t have to would ever venture inside one of these factories locals point to them with pride because they are what make their little town prosper and because all over the world foundries use machine parts inscribed with your town s name Imagine you are the proprietor of one of these concerns Rick Perlstein Before the Storm Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of American Consensus Good day to you sirma m Thank you for answering your door I ve only been knocking for ten minutes What do I want Why I m here to make a literary suggestion Could I interest you in a book on the 1964 US presidential elect Hold on It s impolite to throw things at people when they re talking Now you re walking away And still throwing thingsI get it It hasn t been that long since we finished the most bruising election cycle in recent memory if not the most bruising in all the history of the United States Rather than cooling passions the election has made them boil over Families are sundered Friendships altered The internet is no longer a fun place to visit It s understandable that you might want to take a break from the whole politics thing But hear me out At which point I will remove my foot and you can close your door This is about a completely different time period It s the story of a an anti establishment Republican presidential candidate that some people think is literally mad He snatches the nomination away from other far established candidates due to a strong grass roots movement that taps into decades of political frustration The Republican establishment furiously tries to stop him His Democratic opponent is a lifelong politician who is marred by scandal and accused of voracious ambition There are vicious television ads People are marching in the streets Family gatherings become even less enjoyable than before Oh wait That s exactly like today Okay so maybe this isn t so much an escape from the present as it is a counterfactual Still you should read Rick Perlstein s Before the Storm Not because you ll learn a lot though you will but because this is how history should be written It is sweeping informed and entertaining as heck Before the Storm gripped me from the start Its introduction excerpted above is pure Caro and I mean that as the highest compliment I can bestow on an authorhistorianPerlstein uses this clever bit of scene setting to describe the kernel from which the modern American conservative movement sprung This hypothetical factory owner hated Franklin Roosevelt has tangled with organized labor and feels beset by governmental regulations He voted for Eisenhower and then felt betrayed when he expanded the Federal Government He wondered whether his party the Republican Party would ever advance a true conservative And then came Goldwater At 516 pages of text Before the Storm is rather hefty and it tells a big tale In four sections Perlstein covers the ideological underpinnings of the new conservative movement the rise of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater as the torchbearer of that conservatism Goldwater s surprise nomination and the election of 1964 which resulted in Goldwater s historic trouncing at the hands of President Lyndon Johnson Perlstein tells this story in narrative fashion with a flair for capturing personalities and a real skill at delivering riveting set pieces Before the Storm is generous in its broad sweep and precise with its telling details Once I got going I had a hard time putting it down Obviously this is a book about politics Politics is a touchy subject Give me a call if you want me to list other super obvious things about life Before you pick it up you probably want to know where its author is coming from on the ideological spectrum Okay I ll indulge your whims Before the Storm is a book about the American Right written by an author from the American Left Does that mean it s biased Of course The bias though is implicit Take for instance the passage I excerpted above Perlstein takes pains to imagine the worldview and logic behind a Goldwater supporter but the very act of this imagination shows where Perlstein s political convictions resideCertainly Perlstein is fair in his presentation He may not agree with Clarence Manion one of the godfathers of the movement or F Clifton White who engineered Goldwater s nomination but he is certainly respectful of them and their talents He presents William F Buckley almost with reverence like a prophet who has seen the latter day LBJ on the other hand probably gets the roughest treatment of anyone with the exception of arch segregationist George Wallace What I m trying to say is that this is history than politics Perlstein is attempting to trace the arc of the conservative movement rather than attack or critiue it If he has an axe to grind it s pretty subtle Frankly if it were otherwise I wouldn t have bothered I have no interest in extremes or dogmatists Life doesn t happen at the poles and neither does history LBJ won big in 1964 So did his party The Democrats took both Houses of Congress leading many contemporary pundits to declare and not for the last time the death of the Republican Party This didn t happen And in the ashes of defeat there were signs of life For instance the number of Goldwater volunteers and micro donors hugely outnumbered those people working for Johnson Goldwater s movement lived on Within a few years the Titanic of the Democrats would slam into the iceberg of Vietnam The Age of Roosevelt soon gave way to the Age of Reagan Perlstein argues in his introduction that the Goldwater campaign beget the Republican resurgence and that his ideology once labeled fringe has become mainstream doctrine Before the Storm s narrative is so good I barely realized that Perlstein never satisfactorily concluded the argument he teases in the first few pages Of course Before the Storm published in 2001 is the first book of a trilogy Nixonland and The Invisible Bridge are the follow ups so perhaps that is covered in later volumes The subtitle of Before the Storm is Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of American Consensus That is an interesting phrase American Consensus Perlstein knows as well as anyone that America has never had much consensus about anything The result of the 1860 election after all was the bloodiest war in US history What Perlstein means I think is that there was a myth of consensus People might disagree with each other but we could paper that over with some shared truths and common ground That veneer has uite disappeared Not only do we lack consensus but consensus is no longer a virtue Compromise is seen as surrender Empathizing with your opponents is now a moral hazard Talking about politics in real life as opposed to the echo chambers we find online can get ugly real fast I hesitated to post this review because the last thing I need literally the last I d prefer a kick in the nuts is a web based political argument It is a long road that brought us to this place Before the Storm is not always a pleasant story It is definitely not a diversion However it is strange as it sounds incredibly enjoyable to read

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

An from Arizona who loathed federal government despised liberals and mocked “peaceful coexistence” with the USSR Perlstein's narrative shines a light on a whole world. Preface Before the Storm Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus NotesSelected BibliographyAcknowledgmentsIndex


10 thoughts on “Before the Storm Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus

  1. says:

    “Imagine you live in a town of twenty or fifty or one hundred thousand soulswith a colonnaded red brick city hall at its center a Main Street running its breadth avenues ringed with modest bungalows and named for trees and exotic heroes and

  2. says:

    UPDATE Rick Perlstein has written an outstanding article appearing top of the front page of the New York Times I Thought I Understood the American Right Trump Proved me Wrong The article reads as Rick Perlstein's mea culpa for underestimating extremism in the development of today's conservative movement for example ignoring the popularity of groups such as the German American Bund or the Black Legion For anyone interested in the

  3. says:

    In honor of Michelle Bachman accidentally comparing herself to John Wayne Gacy I thought I'd post a uick review

  4. says:

    Preface Before the Storm Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus NotesSelected BibliographyAcknowledgmentsIndex

  5. says:

    Man oh man I think I know everything I'd ever want to know about the 1964 primary and election yet there's now a brick of a biography on Nelson

  6. says:

    It's hard to believe Perlstein wrote this had this published only in 2001 It is so detailed and filled with period detail 1960s that

  7. says:

    You go back and tell your crowd that I'm going to lose this election I'm probably going to lose it real big But I'm going to lose it my wayIn this magnificent book Rick Perlstein details seemingly every skirmish conspiracy and speech in the conservative movement's campaign to put Barry Goldwater in the White House in 1960 4 Indeed

  8. says:

    If you read Before The Storm after Nixonland as I did be warned the fluency and fury of that book is absent Before The Storm is a denser focus

  9. says:

    Occasionally can drift into condescension writing off the conservative movement as a fit of anger But at least as often this writer can show real perceptiveness as to the motivations of individuals and the most subtle turns in the cu

  10. says:

    Perlstein does a solid job of describing the rise of the conservative movement that began in the late 50s gained steam in the early 60s and resulted in Barry Goldwater's Republican nomination and subseuent landslide defeat at the hands of Lyndon Johnson in 1964 Perlstein delves into the various elements that came together to almost force Goldwater to run He details how sometimes Goldwater and his Arizona mafia all close friends

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