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Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right
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Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America)

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  394 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews

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
Paperback, 416 pages
Published February 10th 2002 by Princeton University Press (first published 2001)
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Mar 16, 2009 Billy rated it liked it
Lisa McGirr’s Suburban Warriors examines the rise of the right during the 1960s in California’s Orange County (“Reagan County). She cites this time and place as the origin of modern conservatism for the following two decades. The new right in California produced an emerging Republican majority because of three factors. First, before the post-war migration to the modernizing region of southern California, ranchers and small-businessmen already adhered to laissez-faire attitudes. The in-migration ...more
Mar 07, 2014 Gordon rated it liked it
I abandoned this book after the first couple of chapters. It's about the rise of modern American conservatism, focusing on Orange County as a case study. The problem with the book seemed to me to be two-fold:
1) Without any kind of comparative context -- such as comparing Orange County to similar places on the Pacific coast that evolved in a completely different political direction, such as the suburban counties outside San Francisco or Seattle -- it's hard to tell if any of the conclusions have
Jan 18, 2009 Petra rated it it was amazing
If you are curious about the origins of the modern Republican Party, this is the book to read.
Nov 03, 2012 Peter rated it liked it
An insightful dive into the driving forces behind the Right through the lense of one booming county in the 50s-60s: Orange County. The author seemed to repeat themes quite a bit, so I thought this book could be condensed greatly. My takeways:

1. Orange County was a growing, entrepreneurial suburban area of the 50s and 60s, ironically no small thanks to significant government defense spending in the area during the cold war (big government spending is the irony).
2. Orange County's population grew
Mar 31, 2011 John rated it really liked it
Really interesting study of the rise of the "new right". McGirr believes the most important time and place to examine when dealing with this movement is Orange County, California in the late 50s and early 60s. Her argument is that this part of the country was already relatively conservative in the early 20th Century in a libertarian, I have a ranch - get the government away from me kind of a way. After WWII, the US government started to spend huge amounts of money on defense; this investment (al ...more
Waxy McClure
Aug 31, 2009 Waxy McClure rated it did not like it
This confirmed that it is nearly impossible to find an un-biased non-partisan book about political history. Once I started this book, I found it sophmoric and judgemental but I forced myself to finish for several reasons.

There were some intellectually challenging nuggets, but overall not worth the time spent on it.

In a nutshell it said, "Those religious, rich, tightwad, selfish nutbags ruining this country should all be forced to shut up and do what we say".

Which is absolutely no better than
Jan 27, 2014 Kent rated it really liked it
While McGirr's ability to get at the social, economic, and cultural reasons for how modern conservatism in America began as a movement, and while she presents a very clear, focused, and easy to comprehend analysis of conservative and liberal thought in the 1960s, the work becomes a bit slow in her actual narrative of what happened in 1960s Orange County.
May 10, 2009 Chris rated it liked it
This was a historically intriguing book, that uncovered a lot of hidden forces that drove the conservative right to power in the U.S. Orange County is a social oddity, in that, it was the only region in America that was suburban and strongly conservative, and the elements that urbanization were bringing to the area were a factor in the "right's fight for right". McGirr leaves a huge gap between political histories of Nixon and Reagan, and towards the end of the book leaves off with a lot of reli ...more
Looks at the rise of the new right and the Goldwater campaign in Orange County in 1960.
May 06, 2013 Scott rated it really liked it
A fair account of the right wing and conservative movements in OC in the 60's and 70's. It leads directly into the rise of Reagan. It exposes a slight bias in the frequent use of terms like "virulent" which in the end are neither inaccurate nor unfair.

This book sheds a good amount of light on the environment where I was born and raised (OC in the 70's & 80's) while laying a solid groundwork for the current far-right movement - there is a direct line between the John Birch Society in 1965 an
Tammy Partridge
Nov 04, 2013 Tammy Partridge rated it it was amazing
This book is great for anyone interested in the grass-roots effort by Southern Californian's middle class to assert conservative ideas into mainstream politics. It covers the creation of Disneyland, political figures such as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan through the 1960s. It is an interesting and informative narrative complete with first person stories and much more to offer the reader insight and ideas for further research of American conservatism both as a movement and an ideology.
Aug 19, 2007 Allicia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: American History buffs on policy changes for safety and worker rights
This book emphasized the importance of fire escapes and safety routes and regulations in the work place and in homes, plus the ability to take time off and have just a fourty hour work week. This explains what Americans had to go through to get to this point to be safe at work while having a shot at a healthy lifestyle and livable wage. I am not one to read a lot about history but I really liked this book and learned from it and value what is shows me.
Roy Rogers
Aug 22, 2012 Roy Rogers rated it it was amazing
simply fantastic overview of the western origins of modern american conservatism. best general argument is that the rise of conservatism is about more than the weaknesses and overreach of liberalism - a truly refreshing insight.

weak on race's role in conservatism's rise but there are other books for that. combines well with other excellent books on eastern and southern conservatism.
Jun 14, 2007 Janine rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Americans
You might have read this one in a college history course. This book describes the rise of the New Right. This book is so relevant to American culture and politics that it should be required reading for anyone with a U.S. passport. Of course that could never happen- but a girl can dream. This book is one of the best books I read in undergrad.
Apr 19, 2014 Brandy rated it liked it
Read this for a grad class.
Going with three stars because I found it tedious and not particularly exciting, however, it is interesting how McGirr takes the case study of Orange County and shows how that relates to the bigger picture. Super interesting stuff, but probably not a book I'd pick up for fun.
Jan 20, 2008 Steven rated it really liked it
Pretty stuffy scholastic-type book, but clear enough that you forget about that part.

Excellent historical look at how California got so broke and Republican, told through the lens of LA suburbs. Before I read this book I never really understood how much LA shaped the politics of the nation.
Aug 01, 2010 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
It's fairly obvious why this is one of the> studies of the New Right...McGirr's analysis is lucid, clear, and flips stereotypes of the Right as completely paranoid wackjobs on its head. Necessary reading for understanding the latter half of the 20th century in the United States.
Feb 29, 2008 Bob rated it liked it
liberal and conservative are two words that get tossed around so much they become almost meaningless. so far this book is right on its re-telling of the decline of new deal liberalism and the rise of populist conservatism. Maybe i'll change it to 5 stars when i finish
Dec 26, 2011 Vlectronica rated it really liked it
Great history of the conservative movement, starting with the John Birch Society and the grassroots campaign to elect Goldwater in 1964. She does a good job covering the movement in an unbiased manner, shedding light on how the conservatives influenced politics then and today.
Apr 21, 2012 Alison rated it liked it
I learned a lot from this book. I did not realize how far back the history of the far right went and where it's orgins were. Thsi book gives a lot of context to the flairing of the radical right today. An important read for any American history major.
Sean Chick
Aug 12, 2011 Sean Chick rated it liked it
While a very good look at conservatives on the grassroots level, the text is repetitive and McGirr fails to follow up on some of her more provocative conclusions, including how conservatives undermined their moral crusade by supporting Capitalism.
Mar 13, 2009 Lori rated it really liked it
As a history buff that lives in Orange County I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and very insightful about how a grass roots movement was largely responsible for the conservative movement in Orange County.
Feb 10, 2014 Andrew rated it liked it
skimmed the back half bc i felt she kept saying the same thing over and over. but solid overview, excerpts should be required reading for people who grew up in suburban OC/greater LA.
Lydia Willsky
Aug 27, 2007 Lydia Willsky rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Cecily and Kacie
I know... more religions... but REALLY interested if you are interested in the roots of modern conservative politics or government in general
May 03, 2009 Joshua rated it liked it
Solid. Based on the introduction, I thought it would be mind-blowing.
Jul 28, 2009 Qweenb4lfe rated it really liked it
A must-read for every liberal. Knowest thy enemy.
Read through p. 72. 1/4 of book.
Rbressler4 marked it as to-read
Feb 10, 2016
Anthony R Menichini
Anthony R Menichini marked it as to-read
Feb 09, 2016
Si Yon Kim
Si Yon Kim rated it liked it
Feb 08, 2016
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Lisa McGirr is professor of History at Harvard University.
More about Lisa McGirr...

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