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Suburban warriors [electronic resource] : the origins of the new American Right /
Lisa McGirr.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2001.
description
xiii, 395 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0691059039 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2001.
isbn
0691059039 (alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8075756
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [351]-377) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Lisa McGirr is Associate Professor of History at Harvard University
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"A landmark study that will enlighten anyone who cares about the evolution of American politics since World War II. With Lisa McGirr's thorough, sophisticated, smoothly crafted exploration of Orange County conservatism, the history of the modern Right has finally come of age."--Michael Kazin, Georgetown University, coauthor ofAmerica DividedandThe Populist Persuasion "In her impressively researched, gracefully written book, Lisa McGirr convincingly demonstrates that historians, who have been preoccupied with the Left in the 1960s, need to develop a deeper comprehension of how conservatives in places such as Orange County reconfigured American political culture. Readers will find her attempt to understand them, rather than dismiss or condemn them, both rewarding and challenging."--William E. Leuchtenburg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill "Something happened to the Republican Party in the 1960s, changing it forever. How did a crypto-liberal, Northeast-dominated, establishment-oriented party become a populist, counter-liberal crusade? Here's the story: exhaustively researched and presented with telling analysis and narrative verve."--Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California
Flap Copy
"A landmark study that will enlighten anyone who cares about the evolution of American politics since World War II. With Lisa McGirr's thorough, sophisticated, smoothly crafted exploration of Orange County conservatism, the history of the modern Right has finally come of age."-- Michael Kazin, Georgetown University, coauthor of America Divided and The Populist Persuasion "In her impressively researched, gracefully written book, Lisa McGirr convincingly demonstrates that historians, who have been preoccupied with the Left in the 1960s, need to develop a deeper comprehension of how conservatives in places such as Orange County reconfigured American political culture. Readers will find her attempt to understand them, rather than dismiss or condemn them, both rewarding and challenging."-- William E. Leuchtenburg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill "Something happened to the Republican Party in the 1960s, changing it forever. How did a crypto-liberal, Northeast-dominated, establishment-oriented party become a populist, counter-liberal crusade? Here's the story: exhaustively researched and presented with telling analysis and narrative verve."-- Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-04-15:
Orange County, CA, has been the home of anti-Communist John Birchers, apocalypse-prophesying evangelists, "cowboy capitalists" who demanded free enterprise and an unregulated economy, libertarians opposed to a centralized government and taxes, and thousands of voters angered by liberals. McGirr (history, Harvard) presents a deft investigation of how these citizens mastered grass-roots politics to shift the conservative movement from discredited clusters of extremists to respectability and dominant party status through the 1964 Republican presidential nomination of Barry Goldwater and the election of Ronald Reagan as California's governor in 1966. Although Orange County was arguably the most conservative county in America, it was, as the author concludes, mostly populated by middle- and upper-middle-class Republican professionals trying to protect their homes from what they viewed as a morally corrupt society. McGirr has not written the sweeping, spirited narrative that Rick Perlstein presented in his Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (LJ 2/15/01), but she presents a focused, stimulating account that demonstrates that many of the best contemporary works on the Sixties are about the rise of the Right. Strongly recommended for academic libraries and recommended for larger public libraries. Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Township Lib., King of Prussia, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2001-03-26:
Prototypical rather than typical, suburban Orange County, Calif., provides Harvard historian McGirr with an illuminating microcosm of the historical transformations that took conservative activism from the conspiracy-obsessed fringes of the John Birch Society to the election of Ronald Reagan, first as governor of California and then as president. Drawing heavily on interviews with grassroots activists as well as a wide range of primary documents, McGirr paints a complex picture exploring the apparent contradiction of powerfully antimodern social, political and religious philosophies thriving in a modern, technological environment and translating into sustained political activity. Federal spending, beginning in WWII and continuing with massive Cold War defense contracts and military bases, was the driving force behind Orange County's booming economy. A frontier-era mythos of rugged individualism, nurtured on hatred of eastern elites who funded western growth before Uncle Sam conveniently hid this dependency. The local dominance of unfettered private development chaotically disorganized in the county's northwest, corporately planned elsewhere destroyed existing communities, producing an impoverished public sphere, a vacuum conservative churches and political activism helped fill. Migrants primarily from nonindustrial regions became more conservative in reaction to the stresses of suburban modernity, while selectively assimilating benefits. Racial and class homogeneity nurtured a comforting conformity consciously defended against outside threats. United by enemies, libertarian and social conservatives rarely confronted their differences. Against this complex, contradictory background, McGirr charts the evolution of a movement culture through various stages, issues and forms of organizing. Incisive yet fair, this represents an important landmark in advancing a nuanced understanding of how antimodernist ideologies continue to thrive. 12 illus. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
A fascinating tale . . .Suburban Warriorsgoes a long way to explaining the origins of a movement whose influence remains formidable to this day.
"A fascinating tale . . . Suburban Warriors goes a long way to explaining the origins of a movement whose influence remains formidable to this day."-- Stephen Dale, Washington Post Book World
A focused, stimulating account that demonstrates that many of the best contemporary works of the Sixties are about the rise of the Right.
"A focused, stimulating account that demonstrates that many of the best contemporary works of the Sixties are about the rise of the Right."-- Library Journal
A groundbreaking work of scholarship.²
A groundbreaking work of scholarship.ia²
"A groundbreaking work of scholarship. . . ."-- John J. Miller, National Review
McGirr is enlightening, offering much solid research on the devoted beserkers who seized the Republican Party in 1964 to foist Goldwater on an unwelcoming nation. . . . McGirr has uncovered something important about the activists of the right.
McGirr is enlightening, offering much solid research on the devoted beserkers who seized the Republican Party in 1964 to foist Goldwater on an unwelcoming nation. . . . McGirr has uncovered something important about the activists of the right."-- Todd Gitlin, Boston Review
McGirr paints a complex picture . . . Incisive, yet fair, this represents an important standing of how antimodernist ideologies continue to thrive.
"McGirr paints a complex picture . . . Incisive, yet fair, this represents an important standing of how antimodernist ideologies continue to thrive."-- Publishers Weekly
[McGirr] treats her subject with commendable fairness . . . deeply informed with dozens of interviews and serious archival work. . . . Suburban Warriors is a welcome addition to contemporary American history. It is the first long look at activists who have been woefully understudied given their influence on the course of recent politics.
[McGirr] treats her subject with commendable fairness . . . deeply informed with dozens of interviews and serious archival work. . . . Suburban Warriors is a welcome addition to contemporary American history. It is the first long look at activists who have been woefully understudied given their influence on the course of recent politics."-- Brian Doherty, Reason
Orange County's success as a crucible for conservatism, McGirr skillfully argues, was rooted in the fact that it took tried and true American values of individualism and community, boldly exaggerated them and then recombined them in ways that accentuated their messy contradictions. . . . McGirr blends political and social history and goes where few analysts before: to the kitchen tables as well as the meeting halls of the early right-wing movement. This is the book's great contribution.
"Orange County's success as a crucible for conservatism, McGirr skillfully argues, was rooted in the fact that it took tried and true American values of individualism and community, boldly exaggerated them and then recombined them in ways that accentuated their messy contradictions. . . . McGirr blends political and social history and goes where few analysts before: to the kitchen tables as well as the meeting halls of the early right-wing movement. This is the book's great contribution."-- Arlene Stein, The Nation
Should be read by anyone interested in American political developments of the last four decades. . . This is a fair-minded book from which both the Right and its opponents could learn a great deal.
"Should be read by anyone interested in American political developments of the last four decades. . . This is a fair-minded book from which both the Right and its opponents could learn a great deal."-- Duane Oldfield, Journal of Church and State
Suburban Warriorsaffords a rare picture of the grass-roots process actually working at a specific site. . . . McGirr's setting is California's Orange County, which became America¹s most celebrated conservative stronghold in the 1960s. McGirr's book provides a valuable scholarly analysis of the demographics, culture, and history that made the county distinctively conservative.
" Suburban Warriors affords a rare picture of the grass-roots process actually working at a specific site. . . . McGirr's setting is California's Orange County, which became America's most celebrated conservative stronghold in the 1960s. McGirr's book provides a valuable scholarly analysis of the demographics, culture, and history that made the county distinctively conservative."-- Russell Baker, New York Review of Books
Suburban Warriorsis an excellent example of the value of combining political with community history.
" Suburban Warriors is an excellent example of the value of combining political with community history."-- Mary C. Brennan, The Journal of American History
The best book yet written about the local insurgencies that dumped liberal Republicanism into the dustbin of history and made the GOP party of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich.
"The best book yet written about the local insurgencies that dumped liberal Republicanism into the dustbin of history and made the GOP party of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich."-- Michael Kazin, Lingua Franca
The strength of her book is her explanation of the growth of the conservative movement through the stories of women and men who moved to the Orange County suburbs . . . Remember welfare? Whatever happened to it? Where did affirmative action go? [McGirr explains] their demise and that of many other ideas that seemed so permanent, so much a part of a national consensus, in 1964.
"The strength of her book is her explanation of the growth of the conservative movement through the stories of women and men who moved to the Orange County suburbs . . . Remember welfare? Whatever happened to it? Where did affirmative action go? [McGirr explains] their demise and that of many other ideas that seemed so permanent, so much a part of a national consensus, in 1964."-- Bill Boyarski, Los Angeles Times
This work captures the politically charged yet modest middle-class culture that gave life to the conservative movement. . . . McGirr has provided an elegantly written analysis of the Right which will reshape historical understandings of the conservative movement for some time to come.
"This work captures the politically charged yet modest middle-class culture that gave life to the conservative movement. . . . McGirr has provided an elegantly written analysis of the Right which will reshape historical understandings of the conservative movement for some time to come."-- Gregory L. Schneider, Weekly Standard
Well written and authoritative, enriched by the voices of the Orange County conservatives [McGirr] interviewed and by deep archival research.
"Well written and authoritative, enriched by the voices of the Orange County conservatives [McGirr] interviewed and by deep archival research."-- Mark Schmitt, American Prospect
Winner of the 2001 Book Award, New England Historical Association Winner of the Robert G. Athearn Prize in Western American History
In her impressively researched, gracefully written book, Lisa McGirr convincingly demonstrates that historians, who have been preoccupied with the Left in the 1960s, need to develop a deeper comprehension of how conservatives in places such as Orange County reconfigured American political culture. Readers will find her attempt to understand them, rather than dismiss or condemn them, both rewarding and challenging.
Something happened to the Republican Party in the 1960s, changing it forever. How did a crypto-liberal, Northeast-dominated, establishment-oriented party become a populist, counter-liberal crusade? Here's the story: exhaustively researched and presented with telling analysis and narrative verve.
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, March 2001
Library Journal, April 2001
Washington Post, April 2001
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
In the early 1960s, American conservatives seemed to have fallen on hard times. McCarthyism was on the run, and movements on the political left were grabbing headlines. The media lampooned John Birchers's accusations that Dwight Eisenhower was a communist puppet. Mainstream America snickered at warnings by California Congressman James B. Utt that "barefooted Africans" were training in Georgia to help the United Nations take over the country. Yet, in Utt's home district of Orange County, thousands of middle-class suburbanites proceeded to organize a powerful conservative movement that would land Ronald Reagan in the White House and redefine the spectrum of acceptable politics into the next century. Suburban Warriors introduces us to these people: women hosting coffee klatches for Barry Goldwater in their tract houses; members of anticommunist reading groups organizing against sex education; pro-life Democrats gradually drawn into conservative circles; and new arrivals finding work in defense companies and a sense of community in Orange County's mushrooming evangelical churches. We learn what motivated them and how they interpreted their political activity. Lisa McGirr shows that their movement was not one of marginal people suffering from status anxiety, but rather one formed by successful entrepreneurial types with modern lifestyles and bright futures. She describes how these suburban pioneers created new political and social philosophies anchored in a fusion of Christian fundamentalism, xenophobic nationalism, and western libertarianism. While introducing these rank-and-file activists, McGirr chronicles Orange County's rise from "nut country" to political vanguard. Through this history, she traces the evolution of the New Right from a virulent anticommunist, anti-establishment fringe to a broad national movement nourished by evangelical Protestantism. Her original contribution to the social history of politics broadens--and often upsets--our understanding of the deep and tenacious roots of popular conservatism in America.
Main Description
In the early 1960s, American conservatives seemed to have fallen on hard times. McCarthyism was on the run, and movements on the political left were grabbing headlines. The media lampooned John Birchers's accusations that Dwight Eisenhower was a communist puppet. Mainstream America snickered at warnings by California Congressman James B. Utt that "barefooted Africans" were training in Georgia to help the United Nations take over the country. Yet, in Utt's home district of Orange County, thousands of middle-class suburbanites proceeded to organize a powerful conservative movement that would land Ronald Reagan in the White House and redefine the spectrum of acceptable politics into the next century. Suburban Warriorsintroduces us to these people: women hosting coffee klatches for Barry Goldwater in their tract houses; members of anticommunist reading groups organizing against sex education; pro-life Democrats gradually drawn into conservative circles; and new arrivals finding work in defense companies and a sense of community in Orange County's mushrooming evangelical churches. We learn what motivated them and how they interpreted their political activity. Lisa McGirr shows that their movement was not one of marginal people suffering from status anxiety, but rather one formed by successful entrepreneurial types with modern lifestyles and bright futures. She describes how these suburban pioneers created new political and social philosophies anchored in a fusion of Christian fundamentalism, xenophobic nationalism, and western libertarianism. While introducing these rank-and-file activists, McGirr chronicles Orange County's rise from "nut country" to political vanguard. Through this history, she traces the evolution of the New Right from a virulent anticommunist, anti-establishment fringe to a broad national movement nourished by evangelical Protestantism. Her original contribution to the social history of politics broadens--and often upsets--our understanding of the deep and tenacious roots of popular conservatism in America.
Publisher Fact Sheet
Introduces readers to unlikely politicos such as the women hosting coffee klatches for Barry Goldwater in their tract houses, members of anti-communist reading groups organizing against sex education, pro-life democrats gradually drawn into conservative circles, not to mention the ever-present evangelicals.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 3
The Settingp. 20
"A Sleeping Giant Is Awakening": Right-Wing Mobilization, 1960-1963p. 54
The Grassroots Goldwater Campaignp. 111
The Conservative Worldview at the Grass Rootsp. 147
The Birth of Populist Conservatismp. 187
New Social Issues and Resurgent Evangelicalismp. 217
Epiloguep. 262
Notesp. 275
Bibliographyp. 351
Indexp. 379
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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