Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

Programs for Citizens

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

by Rick Perlstein

Hill & Wang

671, March

Hardcover, 24.00

ISBN: 080902859X

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—Midwestern businessmen, Sun Belt suburbanites, Southern segregationists, and thousands of students—formed a movement to challenge the center-left consensus. They chose as their hero Barry Goldwater—a rich, handsome Arizona Republican who hated liberalism even more than he hated Moscow—and they grew determined to see him elected President.

Goldwater was trounced by Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The pundits left conservatism for dead. But by the campaign’s end, the consensus found itself squeezed from the left and from the right. As early as 1967 Johnson’s Great Society programs were blocked by conservatives in Congress, and the movement had arrived; by 1980 a new conservative standard-bearer, Ronald Reagan, was elected President. Today many of Goldwater’s ideas are conventional wisdom for Republicans and Democrats alike.

Rick Perlstein’s original and provocative account of the 1960’s as the cradle of the revolution in political culture: fears of threats from abroad giving way to concerns about disorder at home; campaigns plotted in back rooms giving way to those staged for television; Americans beginning to think of their nation as divided, not united. Filled with portraits of figures from George Wallace to Nelson Rockefeller to Bill Moyers, Before the Storm is a gutsy narrative history that adds greatly to our understanding of that controversial era—and of our own.

Table of Contents

Part One

1. The Manionites

2. Merchant Prince

3. Working Together for the World

4. Conscience

5. The Meeting of the Blue and White Nile

Part Two

6. Quickening

7. Stories of Orange County

8. Apocalyptics

9. Off Year

10. Suite 3505

11. Mobs

Part Three

12. New Mood in Politics

13. Granite State

14. President of All the People

15. United and at Peace with Itself

16. Golden State

17. Duty

18. Conventions

Part Four

19. Don’t Mention the Great Pumpkin

20. Campaign Trails

21. Citizens

22. Foregone Conclusions

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