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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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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.