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The Corrosion of Conservatism

Why I Left the Right
By: Max Boot
Narrated by: Max Boot
Length: 7 hrs and 48 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, Politics
4.5 out of 5 stars (213 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Warning that the Trump presidency presages America’s decline, the political commentator recounts his extraordinary journey from lifelong Republican to vehement Trump opponent. As nativism, xenophobia, vile racism, and assaults on the rule of law threaten the very fabric of our nation, The Corrosion of Conservatism presents an urgent defense of American democracy. 

Pronouncing Mexican immigrants to be “rapists”, Donald Trump announced his 2015 presidential bid, causing Max Boot to think he was watching a dystopian science-fiction movie. The respected conservative historian couldn’t fathom that the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Reagan could endorse such an unqualified reality-TV star. Yet, the Twilight Zone episode that Boot believed he was watching created an ideological dislocation so shattering that Boot’s transformation from Republican foreign policy adviser to celebrated anti-Trump columnist becomes the dramatic story of The Corrosion of Conservatism

No longer a Republican, but also not a Democrat, Boot here records his ideological journey from a “movement” conservative to a man without a party, beginning with his political coming-of-age as a young émigré from the Soviet Union, enthralled with the National Review and the conservative intellectual tradition of Russell Kirk and F. A. Hayek. Against this personal odyssey, Boot simultaneously traces the evolution of modern American conservatism, jump-started by Barry Goldwater’s canonical The Conscience of a Conservative, to the rise of Trumpism and its gradual corrosion of what was once the Republican Party. 

While 90 percent of his fellow Republicans became political “toadies” in the aftermath of the 2016 election, Boot stood his ground, enduring the vitriol of his erstwhile conservative colleagues, trolled on Twitter by a white supremacist who depicted his “execution” in a gas chamber by a smiling, Nazi-clad Trump. And yet, Boot nevertheless remains a villain to some partisan circles for his enduring commitment to conservative fiscal and national security principles. It is from this isolated position, then, that Boot launches this bold declaration of dissent and its urgent plea for true, bipartisan cooperation.

With uncompromising insights, The Corrosion of Conservatism evokes both a president who has traduced every norm and the rise of a nascent centrist movement to counter Trump’s assault on democracy.

©2018 Max Boot (P)2018 Recorded Books

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    3 out of 5 stars

He should have donated this book.

I'm not sure who this book is for. Max Boot prattles on about his surprise the GOP went in on Trump, without properly focusing on his own role or the factors that led to it. He gives way too much recent history in an already short book. An insightful anecdote was him describing taking the job as an economics columnist with the WSJ, even though he had no experience in economics. He said the editor didn't like columnists with economics experience because most economists don't ascribe to supply side economics, which the WSJ preached. It's things like this that Boot should have focused on, not on which date Marco Rubio became a Trump stooge.

His voice and performance are also awful. He sounds like he's reading a recipe instead of his own book. No feeling or emotion comes through, it's clear he's just reading the book months after having finished it.

2 people found this helpful

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It's not going to change hearts and minds

While I welcome the conversion of conservatives like Max Boot on issues such as gender and racial inequality, gun control and climate change, his words are not going to stem the flow of Trump's Kool-Aid. Nor are they going to prevent the true believers from drinking deeply of this increasingly bitter brew. He does make some good arguments that can be used in one on one discussions. For example, Trump compares the slave-holding founding fathers compares the treasonous Confederate generals. The former advanced the cause of liberty at great risk to themselves. Had George Washington been captured by the British, hanging would have been the merciful penalty. He more likely would have been drawn and quartered. The latter took up arms against the the Republic created by the founders. It's hard for even the most ardent Trumpophile to defend honoring these traitors while still mouthing platitudes extolling the rule of law.
Max Boot's basic problem, and I think he recognizes it, is his intellect. He makes and responds to rational arguments, while Trump and his minions only respond to base emotions; e.g., anger and fear.

10 people found this helpful

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Dry and repetitive for those who watch the news

Most of the material are things repeated directly from the daily news cycles. Some of the personal information and his take on what is needed to make change going forward was interesting, however that was less than 20% of the material.

1 person found this helpful

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recovey2035

listening to the author read this book was terrible to listen to. I have started and restarted the book 3 times and am unable to make it through the entire book.

1 person found this helpful

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Pleasantly Surprised

Max Boot admits mistakes and explains his disillusionment. He keenly diagnoses the problem with Trump.

1 person found this helpful

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Regretful for the purchase.

I simply cannot finish this. The story and narrator are neither entertaining nor educational. The piece sounds like an immature tantrum. I can tell this story in one sentence. I am very angry that Donald Trump is president and I am sad that Ronald Regan is not president. The end.

3 people found this helpful

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Not an intellectual tour de force!

Max Boot really should get a competent narrator for his books. The narration is horrid!

I'm disappointed in CORROSION OF CONSERVATISM because I wrongly believed Max Boot was an deep thinking intellectual. He's not! This book is a pouring out of raw emotions to the effect that "orange man bad". It is sad because there is certainly a strong case to be made against Donald Trump the man and Donald Trump the politician. Something, possibly Boot's hatred of Trump but maybe something else, leads Boot to exaggerate and deviate from the truth by making many, many demonstratively false statements about Trump. Oh, Boot does cover the truth about Trump quite well, but he then goes off into la la land as he loses all touch with reality. As a debater in high school and college he should know better than to let emotion lead him to make false statements.

I personally have a strong political/economic philosophy which neither major political party represents. But politics is the art of the possible not of the ideal. Boot idolizes Ronald Reagan while hating populism. Certainly Reagan had a strong economic/political philosophy, but he also ran as a populist (he appealed to people who felt dispossessed). I'm 26 years older than Max Boot (who will soon celebrate his 50th birthday) and have been politically aware since since Eisenhower was in office. Yet, the only major party candidate for president in my lifetime who was not a populist was Barry Goldwater in 1964. Goldwater was a true ideologue. He received 62 electoral votes while Lyndon Johnson received 486. I wish populism did not work so effectively, but it does.

I've read the most recent 45 days of Boot's Washington Post columns. 20 of 24 columns were anti-Trump. I've watched a lot of CNN where Boot is a contributor. His comments there are almost exclusively negative concerning Trump. Donald Trump is living rent free in Boot's brain as Trump lives rent free in the brain of most who hate him. I fear the impact is helping Trump being re-elected in 2020. Of course the veering further and further leftward of the Democrats is also helping Trump.

In the end CORROSION OF CONSERVATISM is mostly an emotional screed. It is unfortunate that Boot did not stick to the facts about Trump and his supporters. His charges of racism are false.

I agree with Boot about the need for a third political party which is centrist. My philosophy is classical liberal ( Hayek and Mises are the philosophers with whom I most agree). I'm happy having Trump appoint judges who believe in the constitution when I know Clinton would have appointed judges who did not.


8 people found this helpful

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Another great book from the nevertrumpers.

I really enjoyed Max’s perspective, and the deep introspection. I enjoyed hearing about how his childhood,upbringing, and environment influenced his political ideology. I did, find myself saying, “duh” a lot, but I respect the description of his evolution. I’ve also listened to Rick Wilson’s and Jonah Goldberg’s books. As a democrat, who used to debate with conservatives of this ilk, I find it enjoyable, to have, what’s hopefully , more than a temporary alliance.

2 people found this helpful

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A fine retelling of the Trump story

I have got through 3/4 of this book, and plan on stopping there. I keep waiting for a synthesized insight of the times he covers, but it remains a detailed romp through the details and the history of first Max Boot, and then a retelling of the well worn story of "how did all that happen". But, at least for me, there is little new here. There is not even any substantial explanation, much less treatise of what a conservative is, the one that got corroded. Other than Trump isnt one, and now he isnt one either... At least as far as being a member of the Republican party makes one a conservative.

So what this turns out to be is a good, maybe even a great one, for those who have only a cursory understanding of the history of the Rise of Trump. But for someone who is well versed in that sad saga this is a not-very-deep dive into that history.

I wish all sorts of things would have been different about this book. But then, it would have been a different book. I can see where this one stands, and why it needed to be writ just this way. I hope there are better treatises later.

The first few chapters on his personal bio are interesting if your interested in those details. But it wasn’t why I got the book.

Why I did buy the book was on the reputation of M. Boot as being a central character in the 'conservative' movement. I was hoping for a detailed explanation of what that meant. Even better, if there might be a distinction made between what it means to be a conservative and the very separate thing of being a Republican.
But these two notions got conflated just as easily as they always are, and so nothing was learned there.

It’s a good book for what it is.
Its just not what I needed - I know the Trump history all to well.

6 people found this helpful

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Three cheers for compromise!

I cannot begin to tell you what a relief it was to read this book!

This review is being written in July, 2019. Over the past almost 2 1/2 years, suffering under the pall of the Trump Administration, I had come to believe that the party of my youth had ceased to exist. I have been aghast at the willingness of the Republican Party and its membership to completely ignore ethics, right and wrong, the rule of law, common decency, humane treatment of others, and just plain sensible thinking. All in the name of winning and maintaining power.

I have found, if not on all issues, a kindred spirit in Max Boot. He is a reformed ideologue, converted after having viewed what slavish loyalty to any one cause can do to disorient one’s moral compass. He has seen what he has dubbed as “Trumpsm” take over his beloved Republican Party. That takeover has uncovered an ugly side of the American spirit, the desire to win at any cost. In their desire to take and maintain power, Republicans have signed a deal with the devil, Donald Trump.

Boot laments what he views as a total surrendering of ethics and morality in the pursuit of power. The surrender was preceded by, and greatly aggravated,the descent of American politics into polemic political discourse on a grand scale. Boot also understands that this problem is not reserved to the Republican Party. Democrats have engaged in the practice as well. We have entered into a “tail wagging the dog” scenario in this nation as both parties have swung to their respective extremes.

Like I said, I do not agree with Mr. Boot on all of his points. I think he has underestimated the impact of the influence of dark money in the political arena. Dark money made possible by decisions such as Citizens United. But he espouses an idea which has come to be viewed as disgraceful on both sides of the political aisle, the idea of compromise. Terms like RINO (Republican In Name Only) and its supposed counterpart, DINO (Democrat In Name Only) have been used to disparage anyone felt not to be quite radical enough, either to the right or to the left.

The unwillingness to compromise denies the very foundation of politics. As a nation, we seem to have forgotten the difference between politics and religion. I once heard religion described as a collection of tenets and beliefs which one is willing to die for. I think that definition needs to be expanded to include not only what you are willing to die for, but what you are willing to kill for. Unfortunately, that definition could be increasingly applied to politics in this country. The hate and the vitriol displayed in our current political arena is alarming.

Mr. Boot describes his departure from the inflexible stance of a dogmatic ideologue and his arrival at a much more moderate ideology in his politics. He also describes his thinking current to his journey through the various stages of his conversion. He is very much a sane voice crying in an insane wilderness. I think we would do well as a nation to heed his call.

1 person found this helpful