About The Book
Spanning nearly one hundred years of American political history, and abounding with outsize characters—from Lindbergh to Goldwater to Gingrich to Abramoff—White Protestant Nation offers a penetrating look at the origins, evolution, and triumph (at times) of modern conservatism.
In the long-awaited new book from the author of The Keys to the White House—which The Baltimore Sun called “a must book for political junkies’ and which remains influential after more than fifteen years in print—Allan J. Lichtman has produced a deft and wide-ranging examination of the rise of conservatism in America from the end of World War I to today.
Lichtman is both a professor of political history at American University and a veteran journalist, and after ten years of prodigious research, he has produced what may be the definitive history of the modern conservative movement in America. He has combed through nearly one hundred manuscript collections—he has the confidential memos of Billy Graham, Dick Armey, and many others; the internal strategy papers of the big foundations; the secret correspondence between William F. Buckley Jr. and the Franco regime; and much more—to capture the entire tapestry and trajectory of the conservative movement.
He brings to life a gallery of dynamic right-wing personalities, from luminaries such as Strom Thurmond, Phyllis Schlafly, and Bill Kristol to indispensable inside operators like financiers Frank Gannett and J. Howard Pew. He explodes the conventional wisdom that modern conservative politics began with Goldwater and instead traces the roots of today’s movement to the 1920s. He shows how modern conservatism was born out of post-World War I fears that secular, pluralistic, and cosmopolitan forces threatened America’s national identity. And he lays bare the tactics that conservatives have used for generations to put their slant on policy and culture; to choke the growth of the liberal state; and to build the most powerful media, fundraising, and intellectual network in the history of representative government.
Perfect for readers of Thomas Frank, Kevin Phillips, and John Dean, and a natural counterpart to The Good Fight, Peter Beinart’s recent book on liberalism, White Protestant Nation is entertaining, provocative, enlightening, and essential reading for anyone who cares about modern American politics and its history.
“Allan Lichtman has undertaken an important, insightful and timely study, and his well-written report in White Protestant Nation provides true insight into modern conservatism.” —John W. Dean, former Nixon White House counsel and author of Pure Goldwater
“White Protestant Nation is an absolutely essential chronicle of the rise of the conservative movement. We have read this story in parts, but now Lichtman has brought it together in a compelling and illuminating narrative.” —Max Blumenthal, author of Death Wish: Inside the Movement that Controls the Republican Party
“Allan Lichtman’s new book breaks important ground. Based on an extraordinary range of archival sources, he reminds us that conservatism is not the recent product of Ronald Reagan or Karl Rove, but is deeply embedded in more than a century of American politics and culture.” —Robert Griffith, author of The Politics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate
“White Protestant Nation is must reading for every conservative and liberal in America. Lichtman’s meticulous research and acute analysis reveals the hidden history of how America’s conservative movement rose to power in the twentieth century and why it faces such serious challenges today.” —Richard Bond, former chairman of the Republican National Committee
“Allan Lichtman is one the keenest analysts of American politics today. He’s almost never wrong, and he is always brilliant and fascinating.” —Robert Kagan, author of Dangerous Nation and Of Paradise and Power
Finalist for the National Book Critic Circle Award
Surprising facts from White Protestant Nation:
Spiritual Mobilization, the first Christian Right organization of the twentieth century, was founded in 1934, forty-five years before Jerry Falwell launched the Moral Majority.
In 1945, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals attacked the Catholic Church as “a greater menace than Communism itself.”
Every important conservative publication of the 1950s opposed the Brown v. Board of Education decision to integrate Southern schools.
In 1955, Billy Graham allied with J. Howard Pew, president of Sun Oil (later Sunoco), to move America to the right. “God has given to me the ear of millions,” Graham wrote to Pew. “He has given to you large sums of money. It seems to me that if we can put these two gifts of God together, we could reach the world with the message of Christ.”
William F. Buckley Jr. so loyally backed the government of fascist Spanish dictator Francisco Franco that in 1959, Spain offered him official honors.
In a 1993 memo to fellow Republicans, House Majority Leader Dick Armey laid out a secret strategy to destroy any Clinton health care plan, discredit liberalism, and shift American politics permanently to the right.