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The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities Throughout American History
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The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities Throughout American History

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  49 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
This lively book traces the development of American conservatism from Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Daniel Webster, through Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Herbert Hoover, to William F. Buckley, Jr., Ronald Reagan, and William Kristol. Conservatism has assumed a variety of forms, historian Patrick Allitt argues, because it has been chiefly reactive, responding ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Yale University Press
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Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Patrick Allitt is a long-time professor of American history at Emory University, a Brit married to an American, and a student of conservatism in the UK and US. Not an ideologue himself, he has nonetheless written widely on conservatism and has produced an extensive course on this topic for The Great Courses series through the Teaching Company.

In this book Allitt argues that “conservatism is…an attitude to social and political change that looks for support to the ideas, beliefs, and habits of the
Michael Anderson
An excellent review of Conservative thinking in America, from colonial times to the present day. The book is useful because it doesn't get too deep. I also read The Conservative Intellectual Movement in the United States which goes much deeper and is a slower read.
Justin Evans
Mar 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-etc
Allitt's book describing the paradoxical history of conservatism in America is, well, paradoxical. He's very good at pointing out the tensions (dare I say inconsistencies?) in American conservative thought, and does a remarkably good job of staying disinterested about most of the authors he discusses. This does have a cost: he's aware of the tensions, but his 'objective' standpoint means that he can't criticize the bad thinking to which those tensions lead. To take the most obvious example, cons ...more
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent revelations of the insights and conditions if a peculiar political movement. I write peculiar not in a pejorative sense. Allitt points out that various kinds of conservatism tend to be and untheoretical in way and reactive. So "conservative" often changes in historical context despite a consistent criticism of reason's huberis and unbounded utopian imagination. As Allitt states, history will never neatly confirm your own political biases for you.
Aug 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Thorough history of the conservative movement in America, from the founding of the country to the present time. The author highlights the paradoxes of the conservative movement, and discusses some authors that I'd never heard of before. Nevertheless, he seems to have a very expansive definition of "conservative."
Jan 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Interesting read about the "conservatives." Attempts to identify the conservative elements of previous presidents, which I thought was a little like trying to make the history fit the definition. I appreciated the level of objectivity, but that impartiality waned a little as the time line became more current. Nevertheless, thought provoking and worth the effort.
Apr 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Decent overview of the conservative ideology in America. However, in too few pages Allitt covers too much ground and mentions too many people and their bodies of work. All of them deserved more attention. Still, for someone looking to get a nice first overview, this works.
Mike Uva
Dec 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Read this at the same time as Krugman's "Conscience of a Liberal." A finely-written, non-polemical history of various (often competing) strains conservative thought throughout U.S. history.
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