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The Right Nation: Why America is Different Paperback – 1 Sep 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (1 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141015365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141015361
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 271,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A kind of anthropology of the conservative movement, from 1952 to today. ("The Wall Street Journal") The best political book in years. (George F. Will, "The Washington Post") The writing is consistently crisp and intelligent, the conclusions balanced?. a work of penetrating insight. ("The New York Times") "The Right Nation" is smart, witty, and a pleasure to read. ("Business Week")

About the Author

John Micklethwait is the US editor of The Economist and Adrian Wooldridge writes its Lexington column. They are the authors of A Future Perfect, The Witch Doctors and The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea.

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First Sentence
SIR LEWIS NAMIER, the great historian of English politics in the age of George III, once remarked that "English history, and especially English parliamentary history, is made by families rather than individuals." Read the first page
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Martin Akiyama on 16 April 2006
Format: Paperback
The authors are British and cover America for The Economist magazine. The book attempts to explain how and why America has become such a conservative country. Their point of view is that of moderate conservatives who like America but find some aspects of American conservatism a bit strange.

It is divided into four parts:

The first part, History, is a history of American conservatism from 1952 until 2000, showing how we went from "Eisenhower Republicanism" to George W Bush.

The second part, Anatomy, goes into more detail about the modern-day conservative movement in America.

The third part, Prophecy, looks at the future of conservatism in America: why America is likely to become more rather than less conservative, what could go wrong for the Republicans, and how the Republican party might change due to the increasing influence of young people, ethnic minorities and women.

The fourth part, Exception, looks at why America has such a different political climate from Europe, both in being more conservative and in having such a different flavour of conservatism. There is a fascinating chapter on the historical reasons why America is so right-wing.

Finally the conclusion discusses how America and Europe might get along with each other despite their differences.

If this is sort of thing you find interesting, I would also recommend George Lakoff's books.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. V. Stewart VINE VOICE on 13 Oct. 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One wouldn't think that it was possible to so clearly analyse the rise of the New Right from so many viewpoints, and with a compelling mixture of regard for what really happened and a clear eye for ethics and consequences: but these writers have done it. Partly it's because they take the long view - way back to LBJ and the Great Society; partly because they really do treat the USA on its own terms (e.g. it's big. So if you dislike your neighbour, you could move - at least, that's the folk memory. The book is the work of loving friends; about a country which 'has come early into its full inheritance' and isn't quite sure what to do about it or even to talk to itself about it. Quite a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Ball TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, written by two British Economist journalists, sets out to explain both the history of conservatism in America and the relatively recent rise of the New Right. It was written just before the 2004 election, and obviously quite a lot has changed since then, but a lot of its conclusions are still valid. They effectively argue that the rise of the Right has been a long time coming, is firmly entrenched, and will continue regardless of who occupies the White House - and it's hard to disagree.

The authors argue that America has always been a conservative nation, the Revolution notwithstanding. The Revolution was fought not to introduce new rights and privileges, but to preserve and maintain the status quo. The Britain of the time was seen as infringing and oppressing rights enshrined in law; it was a revolution fought against change, not for it. And as a result, government itself was seen as part of the problem, and that view hasn't changed.

The authors also argue that because so much of American history has been written by what we call, for lack of a better word, the bourgeoisie, it has never developed a radical fringe, either Left or Right, that other countries with more established labour classes have. I'm not entirely convinced by that argument, although there's no denying the country was founded with Jefferson's small farmer in mind, and farmers have always tended to skew conservative.

Because of this past, both dominant political parties in America are conservative to European eyes, the Centre and the Right-of-Centre. Even the supposed liberal party, the Democrats, is not as left-wing as most of Europe. This, the authors argue, aids the Republicans as the more right of the parties, as the Democrats have less to argue against.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. T. Pearson on 26 July 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an extremely impressive work that combines a strong central argument with an array of supporting details and examples. It is thoughtful, lucid and never strays from objectively describing the current American political landscape. It is refreshing to read a book that is thoroughly divorced from partisanship and committed to accurate political analysis. I thoroughly recommend this lively and prophetic text.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 April 2011
Format: Paperback
John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge are journalists writing for The Economist, and this book bears the same high quality of writing that many have come to expect from that magazine. The authors are as thorough in their research as they are clear in their presentation, and we the readers are that much better off because of it. The basic premise of the book, that the conservative power in America has been on the rise for many decades, is an indisputable fact of political life, and will be for many more years to come regardless who the occupant of the White House will end up being. The book deals with the roots of this phenomenon, and tries to present it as objectively and critically as possible. It shows how American conservatism is unique, and would probably not be recognized as traditional conservatism in many other parts of the world. Many critics may find it objectionable and problematic that the authors take this American conservatism seriously at all, but even those critics could benefit tremendously from reading this book. If their aim is to get to know the enemy, this book would be the best place to start. Even though the book was first published around the 2004 elections, it will probably remain relevant for many years to come.
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