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The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America

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The Right Nation

Conservative Power in America

By John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge

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Format: Paperback, 496 pages
Other Information: Illustrated
Published In: United States, 31 May 2005
The Right Nation is not "for" liberals, and it's not "for" conservatives. It's for any of us who want to understand one of the most important forces shaping American life. How did America's government become so much more conservative in just a generation? Compared to Europe-or to America under Richard Nixon-even President Howard Dean would preside over a distinctly more conservative nation in many crucial respects: welfare is gone; the death penalty is deeply rooted; abortion is under siege; regulations are being rolled back; the pillars of New Deal liberalism are turning to sand. Conservative positions have not prevailed everywhere, of course, but this book shows us why they've been so successfully advanced over such a broad front: because the battle has been waged by well-organized, shrewd, and committed troops who to some extent have been lucky in their enemies.John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, like modern-day Tocquevilles, have the perspective to see this vast subject in the round, unbeholden to forces on either side. They steer The Economist's coverage of the United States and have unrivaled access to resources and-because of the magazine's renown for iconoclasm and analytical rigor-have had open-door access wherever the book's research has led them. And it has led them everywhere: To reckon with the American right, you have to get out there where its centers are and understand the power flow among the brain trusts, the mouthpieces, the organizers, and the foot soldiers. The authors write with wit and skewer whole herds of sacred cows, but they also bring empathy to bear on a subject that sees all too little of it. You won't recognize this America from the far-left's or the far-right's caricatures. Divided into three parts-history, anatomy, and prophecy-The Right Nation comes neither to bury the American conservative movement nor to praise it blindly but to understand it, in all its dimensions, as the most powerful and effective political movement of our age.

Chapter OneFROM KENNEBUNKPORT TO CRAWFORD Sir Lewis Namier, the great historian of English politics in the age of George III, once remarked that "English history, and especially English parliamentary history, is made by families rather than individuals." The same could be said of American political history, especially in the age of George I and George II. There is no better introduction to the radical transformation of Republicanism in the past generation-from patrician to populist, from Northeastern to Southwestern, from pragmatic to ideological-than the radical transformation of Republicanism's current leading family, the Bushes.

Grandfather Prescott

The Bushes began political life as classic establishment Republicans: WASPs who summered in Kennebunkport, educated their children at boarding schools and the Ivy League and claimed family ties to the British royal family (Queen Elizabeth II is the thirteenth cousin of the first President Bush). George W.'s paternal great-grandfather, Samuel P. Bush, was a steel and railroad executive who became the first president of the National Association of Manufacturers and a founding member of the United States Chamber of Commerce. His maternal great-grandfather, George Herbert Walker, was even grander. The cofounder of W. A. Harriman, Wall Street's oldest private investment bank, Walker's stature was summed up by his twin Manhattan addresses: his office at One Wall Street and his home at One Sutton Place. There was certainly muck beneath this brass: both Walker and Bush had their share of Wall Street shenanigans and cozy government deals, but in the age...

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About the Author

Both John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge were educated at Oxford and went on to work for The Economist. John Micklethwait has overseen the magazine's Los Angeles and New York bureaus and is now its U.S. editor. Adrian Wooldridge has served as West Coast correspondent, social-policy correspondent, and management editor, and is currently Washington, D.C., correspondent. Together, they have coauthored three books, The Witch Doctors, A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalisation, and The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea.Both John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge were educated at Oxford and went on to work for The Economist. John Micklethwait has overseen the magazine's Los Angeles and New York bureaus and is now its U.S. editor. Adrian Wooldridge has served as West Coast correspondent, social-policy correspondent, and management editor, and is currently Washington, D.C., correspondent. Together, they have coauthored three books, The Witch Doctors, A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalisation, and The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea.

Reviews

In the introduction to this engaging study of American conservatism, Micklethwait and Wooldridge of the Economist disclaim any allegiance to America's "two great political tribes." It is this Tocquevillian quality of informed impartiality that makes their book so effective at conveying how profoundly the right has reshaped the American political landscape over the past half century. The authors trace the history of the conservative movement from the McCarthy era, when "conservatism was a fringe idea," to the second Bush administration and the "victory of the right." They dissect the new "conservative establishment," which combines the intellectual force of think tanks, business interest groups and sympathetic media outlets with the "brawn" of "footsoldiers" from the populist social conservative wing of the GOP, and argue that continuing Republican hegemony is likely. Democratic optimists who point to favorable demographic trends are exaggerating the liberalism of Latino and professional voters, say the authors, while other factors, such as suburbanization and terrorism, will tend to promote Republican values. Still, the right should be worried about its own "capacity for extremism and intolerance" and about holding together its unlikely alliance of religious moralists and small-government activists. Even so, say the authors, conservative ideas are now so pervasive in American society that even a Kerry administration could do little to divert the country's long-term rightward drift. This epochal political transformation is rarely analyzed with the degree of dispassionate clarity that Micklethwait and Wooldridge bring to their penetrating analysis. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Journalists for the Economist, British authors Micklethwait (U.S. editor) and Woolridge (Washington correspondent) join the decades-old debate about whether the United States is primarily a conservative or a liberal nation. Their analysis shows that American conservatives differ from their European counterparts. While both are nationalistic and suspicious of state power, preferring liberty over equality, American conservatives are more liberal in regard to hierarchy, pessimism, and elitism. They see themselves as rugged individualists who believe in progress and like to portray themselves as populists. This book serves as the counterpoint to John Judis and Ruy Teixeiria's The Emerging Democratic Majority, which argued that current demographics favor the Democratic Party, since the educated are the most tolerant segment of society and tend to vote. In contrast, The Right Nation sketches a cradle-to-grave conservatism in which children are home-schooled, reared in gated communities, and sent to conservative churches and colleges, then network with conservative organizations while reading and listening to conservative media. The authors' viewpoint and writing reflect the magazine for which they work: both are highly articulate, intelligent, insightful, and sometimes just plain wrong. Still, political junkies on both sides of the political spectrum will enjoy and gain from the analysis. Highly recommended.-William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"A kind of anthropology of the conservative movement, from 1952 to today." --The Wall Street Journal"The writing is consistently crisp and intelligent, the conclusions balanced.... a work of penetrating insight." --The New York Times"The Right Nation is smart, witty, and a pleasure to read." --Business Week

EAN: 9780143035398
ISBN: 0143035398
Publisher: Penguin Books
Dimensions: 21.39 x 14.12 x 2.67 centimetres (0.40 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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