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The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics: The Personalities, Elections, and Events That Shaped Modern North Carolina

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  56 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
How can a state be represented by Jesse Helms and John Edwards at the same time? Journalist Rob Christensen answers that question and navigates a century of political history in North Carolina, one of the most vibrant and competitive southern states, where neither conservatives nor liberals, Democrats nor Republicans, have been able to rest easy. It is this climate of comp ...more
Hardcover, 351 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by University of North Carolina Press
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Sep 30, 2009 Kam rated it really liked it
Pretty interesting read, especially for someone who grew up in the state, studying its political history in the public schools and then moved away for 10 years not to hear anything about Tar Heel politics (and to understand what an anomaly NC politics really is after living in an very narrow political area for 10 years). I really enjoyed the older history (early/mid 20th century). It was quite interesting to read about the politicians whose names are on all the building I grew up seeing in Morga ...more
David R.
Sep 05, 2010 David R. rated it it was ok
What we have here is a disappointing hagiography of poltroons. The author is clearly worshipful of not just utter mountebanks like Max Gardner and Kerr Scott, but even of terrorists like Charles Aycock and Furnifold Simmons. Christensen's also astonishingly accepting of the various political "machines" over the last century, excusing or ignoring their excesses. Not what I expected from someone purporting to be a "journalist."
Irving Koppel
Mar 12, 2009 Irving Koppel rated it really liked it

The author,Rob Christensen, has been covering North Carolina politics for thirty-five years as a reporter for the Raleigh "News Observer". He delves into the seeming contradiction of a state which
can elect one of the most conservative senators,Jesse Helms,and yet which
could also elect a populist like John Edwards. He seems to clarify this
seemingly illogical combination by explaining that while the personal
values of the citizens are quite conservative,being part of the Bible
Belt, their aspirati
Naomi Lambert
Jun 13, 2014 Naomi Lambert rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I read it at a time when I needed to understand more about why things work the way they do in NC. It is an easy read and really does explain why a Helms and an Edwards could be senators at the same time. I doubt there are many people who could write a fairly entertaining book with an historic span as long as this without it being an academic tome.
Jerry Landry
Sep 04, 2011 Jerry Landry rated it it was amazing
Very good overview of a century of politics in North Carolina. I love Christensen's style of writing -- while providing details, the reader never gets lost in them. Christensen crafts a tale of the ins and outs of politics in the Tar Heel State which is sprinkled with insights and antidotes of some of the characters who make up the story. Highly recommend to anyone interested in North Carolina's history.
Kate McAllister
Jul 19, 2008 Kate McAllister rated it really liked it
Great survey of Carolina politics since 1900+. I enjoyed this and learned a lot (I read it for a book club, otherwise would have only ever enjoyed the author's N&O columns but not thought to read his book). I took away from this the notion that the paradox of NC politics is race and also that we consistently elect Republicans to represent us in DC but Democrats to govern the state. Hmmm.
Lady Jane
Sep 05, 2014 Lady Jane rated it really liked it
Extremely well-written, informative and entertaining survey of Tar Heel politics. The author, a journalist for the Raleigh News & Observer, succinctly communicates trends he has both observed and researched. "The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics" places NC's current political landscape into its historical context. Well worth reading.
Peter Gehred
Jul 14, 2010 Peter Gehred rated it really liked it
excellent history of politics in North Carolina in the 20th century. A well-researched and engrossing narrative, the book has enough information about the larger picture to provide important context for the stories that are the heart of the book.
Tamara Bennett
Oct 31, 2012 Tamara Bennett rated it really liked it
read this for a POLI SCI state gov class fall 2012 semester. really enjoyed learning about the ppl tht made my state's hx. increased my understanding & chronological memory of many figures & events.
Apr 09, 2014 Mary added it
Very good history of NC politics in the 20th century. I'm not a native, so after living here almost 25 years, I thought it was time I tried to understand this place. This book helped.
Dec 23, 2012 Steve rated it liked it
A startling reminder of how both parties have used race-based bigotry to win elections for over a century.
David Frankstone
Aug 03, 2008 David Frankstone rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This is a terrific book about NC politics. It reads a bit like a novel, a sordid novel.
David Mclennan
Dec 28, 2014 David Mclennan rated it really liked it
Christensen does a good job of bringing NC political history alive.
Dec 30, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing
despite the title - this is quite the page turner!!
Had to return to the library. Back on the to-read list.
Aug 11, 2008 Christian rated it really liked it
A good overview of twentieth-century politics in North Carolina, centered loosely around the question of how one state could be represented simultaneously by Jesse Helms and John Edwards.
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