Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Conservatives Without Conscience” as Want to Read:
Conservatives Without Conscience
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Conservatives Without Conscience

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,469 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
On the heels of his national bestseller "Worse Than Watergate," John Dean takes a critical look at the current conservative movement
In "Conservatives Without Conscience," John Dean places the conservative movement's inner circle of leaders in the Republican Party under scrutiny. Dean finds their policies and mind- set to be fundamentally authoritarian, and as such, a dan
ebook, 304 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Conservatives Without Conscience, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Conservatives Without Conscience

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Will Byrnes
Oct 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a must read for those with an interest in contemporary political affairs. Dean, an erstwhile Goldwater Republican, is interested in authoritarianism within the conservative movement. He begins by looking for a definition of conservatism. This is no mean feat, as the definition is as variable as the people who supposedly ascribe to this ideology. In the preface, for example, (p xxxvii) he quotes Robert Vaughn, a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, who defines dem ...more
Mike Jensen
Jul 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I spent two years researching the answer to the question, “Why has political discussion become so contentious, rude, and non-consensus making over the past three decades?” I came a long way towards answering that question, but not all the way. John Dean is a traditional conservative, a Goldwater conservative, and indeed he and Barry Goldwater would have written this book together if Goldwater had not died. Dean takes everything I figured out and takes it further, placing what I knew in a larger ...more
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Dean was at a loss to understand what had happened to the Republican party since the Nixon days. Today's Republican party is not like the Republican party he first joined. He wanted to understand.This book is the result of his research. He found the answer in new research into the Conservative authoritarian personality. 25% of the the US population is made up of Conservative Authoritarian Followers. They are 1)submissive, 2)agressive 3)believe in inequality and 4)are self-righteous. They ar ...more
Brian Ayres
Apr 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Psychological research is typically dismissed for its lack of causal relationships between two variables. Unlike hard sciences, psychologists cannot put a cause and effect label on an individual's behavior like Newton did with the apple.

However, make no mistake, there is an importance to psychological research, and that importance is underscored in this book by John Dean.

Dean uses the work of political/social psychologist Bob Altemeyer and others in the field to outline the four tenets of beha
Feb 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so enlightening and frightening. If you care about America, we have found the enemy:
it's us. Specifically, it's the Republican Party (the Regressive Party) that's been taken over by narrow-minded, self-delusional, fear-mongering authoritarians and their frightened followers who lack the critical thinking and blindly accept everything they're told, even if it's contrary to their own interests (universal healthcare, for instance).

Dean does a great job of talking about how the histor
Sarah Marios
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you've ever wondered how the right wing took over U.S. politics and damaged it beyond all recognition... If you've pondered what really went on during the Nixon administration... Don't fail to read this book. The first couple of chapters are a bit challenging to read, but the rest is amazing. All the secrets of the Nixon administration pour out, and connect to the subsequent take-over by the GOP. The same cast of characters were present in subsequent decades, and exactly as corrupt as ever. I ...more
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us-politics
This book not only does what it is billed to do (apply psychological studies to political disposition) but also provides a basis for understanding today's conservativism.

After discussing the ideas of what it means to be a conservative, Dean tackles situation of conservatives who do not have a deep tradition in America. The US was begun with a Declaration declaring all men equal (liberal), which was made to stick with a revolution in which conservatives were the loyalists and monarchists. Then th
Erik Graff
May 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: conservatives
Recommended to Erik by: no one
I picked this thing up in NW Wisconsin at the Hayward Public Library and read it with enjoyment in a day.

Although a quick read, this is not a great book. Rather, it appears that Dean got his hands on some psychological surveys about various personality types as regards political beliefs and behavior. Studying this material he claims to have obtained some insight into what he perceives as a shift in the Republican Party from the conservatism of Taft and Goldwater towards the virtually antithetic
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm always looking for books, articles, or anything that explains not just *what* is going on with our current political climate (specifically, the religious right) but also WHY. This book, written by a more classic/old school conservative who feels betrayed by the directions the fundamentalist Christians are taking the Republican party he once held so near and dear, is a pretty amazing book. For one, the author is an insider, so he doesn't *want* to be talking all this shit about Republicans, b ...more
Leroy Seat
Oct 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a most interesting and helpful book, especially if you are a liberal Democrat. It would be much harder for conservative Republicans to read and appreciate.

Like so many books, this one, too, would have been of greater value had I read it sooner to its publication. On the other hand, it might have been too depressing to have read it when Bush/Chaney were still in office.

Dean (b. 1938), who was White House legal counsel to President Nixon for a thousand days, is sharp in his criticism of Ni
Brian Ridge
May 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Conservatives Without Conscience by John Dean is yet another in a recent string of books (see INvasion of the Party Snatchers: How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP by Victor Gold and Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy by Bruce Bartlett for other example) written by old-school conservatives (i.e. Goldwater conservatives) lamenting the current state of the conservative movement in America today. While Bartlett focused on the fake conse ...more
Keith Rackley
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dean defines what a Goldwater Conservative is and the value and legitimacy Conservatism has by contrasting today’s conservatives, those with and without conscience. He chronicles the major influences to, and changes in, the Republican party from Nixon though Bush (2008) that have resulted in the hollowing out of the Republican party of both intellectual legitimacy and the capacity to govern reasonably. Further, he references and explains recent research in authoritarianism psychology and group d ...more
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for understanding some of the underlying reasons behind the bitter partisan divide in our country today. The title was inspired by a Senator Barry Goldwater work, Conservatives With Conscience, and intended to be a companion piece that Dean worked on with Goldwater. I mention this because I was put off by the title at first, thinking it guilty of the partisan name calling that often passes these days for serious political discourse. This book was extremely well documented, amazingly ...more
Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Former White House Counsel to Richard Nixon, John Dean provides a disturbing account of how the American conservative movement has come to be dominated by sociopaths referred to by clinical psychologists as “double high authoritarians,” who control others by playing on their fears. They also hold all others to very high standards of behavior and responsibility, while they themselves often act unethically and amorally.
Jane Baskin
Sep 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a stunning book, not your usual political analysis.

John Dean has based his work on a famous psychological study, The Authoritarian Personality, conducted in the US post WWII. He has worked closely with a noted psychologist to gain an understanding of this personality type, both leaders and followers, and has applied this understanding to the current political scene in America.

It is deep, frightening, and thought provoking. A must-read.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics-history
Definitely worth reading. It's a little repetitive and at times tedious, but it is very informative and IS spot on in it's critique of what conservatism has evolved into.
Tom Schulte
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have long through that supporting the Republican or Democratic parties in the USA is, basically, a personality test indicating whether one is resistant to change or embraces change. This is as basic and and analogous to have a party for introverts and one for extroverts. What confuses me is why the dichotomy is so all-encompassing to participation in the political process by the electorate. Democracies from Western Europe to India are noisy, boisterous affairs of multiple parties and coalition ...more
Michael Hagan
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book through last year as research material for a novel I wrote about a ten-year-old boy from a Republican family who follows the 2012 presidential election. Throughout the year, I'd read a handful of books about Republicans in order to understand why they believe the things they believe and why they think the way they think. This book by John Dean was very helpful in understanding the authoritarian mindset and authoritarian follower perspective. Written in 2004, this book ...more
Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
CONSERVATIVES WITHOUT CONSCIENCE was written by another famous Republican and conservative, in the 1960s meaning of the term. Mr. Dean worked with President Nixon until that president's unconstitutional actions brought his own disgrace and the temporary downfall of the Republican Party. Check out Mr. Dean's book Worse Than Watergate which is an excellent indictment of the Bush junta. The latest book clearly explains what a real conservative and especially a truly compassionate conservative shoul ...more
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really well written. I didn't want to read at first because, you know, Nixon, but then I thought, know thine enemy. But it turns out he was not as much among the cabal of evil after all. And his scathing indictment of the current "conservatives" (quotes because that word hardly describes it, more like batshit crazy, or zealots, or tyrants, fascists, authoritarian theocracy true believers. But to be fair, the book was written before the madness of the current crop of republican presidential candi ...more
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, english
A riveting read exploring what right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) is in psychological research and how it stands in opposition to traditional conservative values. Dean draws a line between what he sees conservatism was before 1968 to what it has become during and, especially, after the Nixon presidency. A lapsed conservative and a frequent MSNBC contributor himself, Dean eviscerates what he sees is the sheep mentality of a large portion of the conservative base, a facet, as he notes wryly, used b ...more
The title of the book is a reference to Barry Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative," and in fact Dean had initially planned to write this book together with Goldwater, but the senator's failing health and eventual death prevented it.
Partly a clinical, psychological study and partly a catalog of the many sins of J. Edgar Hoover, G. Gordon Liddy, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Bill Frist and of course Dick Cheney. There's also some account of the intellectual history of conserv
Candace Rollins
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book just after reading "The Sociopath Next Door", was a coincidence, but the fact that similar personality types arose in each book and some of the same psychological studies were used to support these personalities types (like the work of Stanley Milgram)left me with a realization, that "The Grand Old Party" has been hijacked by the types of people that are amoral, destructive, and authoritative. I have learned that authoritative people blindly follow authority and authoritative d ...more
Jan 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, psychology
This book and its observations are central to discussions of our politics currently, and will be a footnote in retrospectives about this decade of our history.

John Dean, legal counsel to President Richard Milhous Nixon at the time of Watergate, identifies himself with the conservatism of Barry Goldwater, and assesses the drift of today's conservatism towards authoritarianism from the fall of Nixon through the presidency of George W. Bush.

In this book, he makes extensive reference to intriguing
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dean's book takes awhile to get started but eventually covers a few topics of interest. These include the diversity of factions with the conservative movement, the contradiction of using liberals as a focal point of critique when moderates elect the president, and the reason for reading the book in the first place: the Bob Altemeyer study of right wing authoritarian followers (RWA)and social dominaters (SDO). The book spends a lot of time kvetching about specific people and as a consequence is l ...more
Dave Beebe
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An in depth analysis of the fall of conservatism from a self-proclaimed "Goldwater-conservative", John Dean. Dean was deeply involved in the events leading up to Watergate and became a key witness for the prosecution. I consider the finest part of this book to be where Dean documents the fight for morality becoming a major argument in the election process when the Moral Majority (Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye, etc.) inflicted the issues toward abortion and gay marriage, good versus ev ...more
Jul 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book, because it told me what I already knew about the modern right. But it told me in ways, and with facts, I hadn't considered. It's a great read, because it's written by a true conservative, and the logic used to explain the modern right is damn near impossible to refute. That's not to say that those whom do enjoy entertaining debate or differing opinions will like it. However, if you're a centrist, moderate, progressive, or any other word that means politically active on ...more
Rachel Jerdin
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was written more than 10 years ago and is even more pertinent!

This book is insightful of the authoritarian Republican. Though I know this is not the category of all Republicans, it fit for Nixon, Bush and Cheney and now Trump! This did not sound like dated information. The moderate Republicans were virtually all voted out of office with the advent of the Tea Party. At this point, it is the Democratic Party that has taken the place of Republican moderates. It is frightening to see this
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It started s little slow for me but quickly became a really good explanation of conservatism. I'm a liberal Democrat and still have a hard time believing the whole Republican Party is corrupt. However, having said that it seems like I was reading a cautionary tale about 2016. I'm still hoping that some of these people will step up and stop what is going on right now. The president just gave the Russians , who he invited to our White House, secret info gathered by an ally who trusted us to be cir ...more
A must-read book. Dean describes both the ways and reasons that authoritarians have overrun conservatism. With little conscience and no discernible moral compass, it's little wonder that such "leaders" have risen to the top. From names like Liddy, Nixon, Cheney, and Rove, they still wield excess power in the U.S. government, and as long as they have plenty of other little authoritarians to follow and support them - there's little chance of change.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency
  • The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America
  • War by Other Means: An Insider's Account of the War on Terror
  • The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism
  • Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America
  • Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation
  • The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule
  • Bill of Wrongs: The Executive Branch's Assault on America's Fundamental Rights
  • Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative
  • The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina
  • The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power
  • The Fall of the House of Bush: How a Group of True Believers Put America on the Road to Armageddon
  • The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics
  • The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army
  • American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century
  • What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News
  • Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War
  • Moyers on Democracy
John W. Dean served as White House Counsel for United States President Richard Nixon from July 1970 until April 1973. In this position, he became deeply involved in events leading up to the Watergate burglaries and the subsequent Watergate scandal cover-up. He was referred to as the "master manipulator of the cover-up" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He pleaded guilty to a single fel ...more
More about John W. Dean...
“Social conservatism and neoconservatism have revived authoritarian conservatism, and not for the better of conservatism or American democracy. True conservatism is cautious and prudent. Authoritarianism is rash and radical. American democracy has benefited from true conservatism, but authoritarianism offers potentially serious trouble for any democracy.” 45 likes
“Probably about 20 to 25 percent of the adult American population is so right-wing authoritarian, so scared, so self-righteous, so ill-informed, and so dogmatic that nothing you can say or do will change their minds,” 2 likes
More quotes…