Review by Choice Review
Barone uses demographic data, election returns, and polling results in what is his strongest suit, namely, his analysis of the political shifts over five frenetic decades. From the succinct description of the Taft Court in the 1920s to the Iran Contra affair, people and events in US political and social history are judiciously treated. Barone is on the mark in observations of Truman's inexperience and political mistakes; of those jaunty, star-crossed princes, the Kennedys, and, for instance, their shifting views on the civil rights issue; and of Nixon's surprisingly progressive measure, though the condign crudeness is neglected. But Barone's book remains a curious mix. Its neoconservative tone leaves it vulnerable on a score of developments and assessments--from Eisenhower's interventionist practices in Iran and Guatemala to the arguable claim of a "domestic communist threat" in 1947 and of 100,000 Communist party members. Though it has to be read with care and is spotty like a curate's egg, this study is especially useful as a handbook of political chemistry. History buffs will find it useful and informative. -M. Cantor, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A massive (840 pp.) but disappointingly superficial chronicle of the past 60 years of American political tradition. Barone is a senior writer for US News and Worm Report. As an on-the-scene commentator in Washington for many years, the author has an excellent grasp of trends, and with hindsight can pinpoint the significant historical moments as he sees them--here tracing out an underlying premise that cultural rather than economic issues have played the predominant role in determining national policy for much of this century. Starting in the 20's with Charles Murphy, a Tammany Hall Democrat and Irish Catholic, and William Howard Taft, a WASP Republican, Barone interweaves cultural influences and political party lines--but his analysis ends there. Skimming only the surface of subsequent political and social events, he goes on to point out virtually every noteworthy occurrence, nationally or internationally, including Roosevelt's New Deal difficulties, Cold War politics, Vietnam and the watershed Nixon years, and concludes by totalling up the tribulations of the Reagan era. As a compendium of news briefs and capsule summaries, this is remarkable stuff, but anyone looking for persuasive commentary and illuminating criticism will have to turn elsewhere. Demographics and other statistics are rolled out by the barrel, but such details overwhelm any claim to substance here, giving the impression that Barone has little new to add. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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