John E. Moser

Where and when

In this biography of the prolific writer and columnist John T. Flynn, who was once described by the New York Times as “A man of wide-ranging contradictions,” John E. Moser draws on Flynn’s enigmatic life to illuminate how liberalism in America changed during the mid-20th century. In the 1930s, Flynn advocated extensive regulation of the economy, the breakup of holding companies, and heavy taxes on the wealthy. A mere fifteen years later he was denouncing the New Deal as “creeping socialism,” calling for an abolition of the income tax, and hailing Senator Joseph McCarthy as the savior of the American Republic. Yet throughout his career he insisted that he had remained true to the principles of liberalism as he understood them. It was America’s political culture that changed, he argued, and not his values and views. Moser considers whether Flynn’s ideological odyssey was the product of opportunism, or the result of a set of deep-seated principles that he championed consistently over the years. In addition, Right Turn examines Flynn’s role in laying the foundations for the “culture war” that would be played out in American society for the rest of the century, helping to define modern American conservatism.