Before the Storm

Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus
Narrated by: Kiff VandenHeuvel
Length: 28 hrs and 7 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (147 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed historian Rick Perlstein chronicles the rise of the conservative movement in the liberal 1960s. At the heart of the story is Barry Goldwater, the renegade Republican from Arizona who loathed federal government, despised liberals, and mocked "peaceful coexistence" with the USSR. Perlstein's narrative shines a light on a whole world of conservatives and their antagonists, including William F. Buckley, Nelson Rockefeller, and Bill Moyers. Vividly written, Before the Storm is an essential book about the 1960s.

©2017 Rick Perlstein (P)2017 Hachette Audio
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Great book, great reading

Perlstein writes an important and always timely history of the early 60s around a biography of Barry Goldwater. Though the events don’t quite reach the absurd peaks of Nixonland, Before the Storm held my interest all the way through, and VandenHevel’s dynamic reading—including good approximations of the Kennedys, LBJ, Reagan, and Goldwater—is an excellent companion to the text.

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worth a listen

read this series of books, phenomenal all around. the author captures the time he describes better than most

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Thoroughly Informative and Chilling

An outstanding beginning to Rick Perlstein’s modern American conservatism saga. You get to hear about all of the details behind the origin of the modern movement that first took off with the Goldwater campaign in 1964. You go behind the scenes to learn about that idiosyncratic, abrasive ideologue and the people who supported him. As you listen, it will become increasingly clear how the story Perlstein tells has ultimately culminated in a Trump presidency which shares many of the core instincts at the heart of the movement - but little of the intellectual foundation.

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Rigorous analysis, excellently performed

First of all, the performance by the narrator has caused me to reconsider what it means to experience excellent performance. I had given excellent performance reviews to many other non fiction books from this platform merely because they were clearly spoken. However, this performance was inspired, with pitch perfect inflection. He really drew out the emotion of the author. Even compared to the Gulag Archipelago, which was another dramatic performance, this narrator really nailed the passion of the author.

Now for the content of the book it was, as I said, rigorously researched with a high resolution chronology. It spanned from the end of the Eisenhower administration to Goldwater's crushing defeat in 1964. The author did an excellent job of explaining how the American consensus came to pass in the wake of FDR's New Deal, and how durable it remained even as the conservative backlash boiled over in this time period. Perlstein played fair, and he gave the conservative characters in this book the platform that they deserved. It's a shame, then, that the Southern Strategy really did turn out to be a naked plea to American racists to crush black equality under the law. It seems like the exact point in time where, on social issues at least, the parties really did "trade places". What a shame that the party of Lincoln and Grant would eventually give license to the domestic terrorists known as the Ku Klux Klan just so they could bid for the votes that would allow them to shrink all but the most violent parts of the government.

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A Thoughtful, Thorough History

Dense but never boring. I consider myself a histroy buff and political junkie and I learned a lot of new information. I will probably listen again.

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How this story relates to 2020

Bernie Sanders is running to be the Barry Goldwater of the left. He knows he can’t win the electoral college. Problem is, Sanders’ glorious loss presupposes a political tomorrow for his eventual socialist revolution, but if Trump does in fact win re-election, the rise of that tomorrow is questionable.

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Fascinating political history

The book is excellent, like all of Perlstein's work. Goldwater is more obscure than Nixon or Reagan. But the events described here are the fountainhead of their transformative presidencies. The narrator is good, just a handful of mispronunciations. Be warned: he does impressions of the more well known figures. They're pretty bad in the first couple of chapters, but improve markedly over the course of the book.

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Ok for Conservatives

I was concerned as a conservative about how slanted this book might be, which is why I avoided it for years. While certainly not sympathetic, it was acceptable overall from a bias perspective and a very good narrative.