Taking America Back: The Conservative Movement and the Far Right (Hardcover)

Taking America Back: The Conservative Movement and the Far Right By David Austin Walsh Cover Image
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A provocative look at the relationship between the far right and the American conservative movement from the 1930s to the end of the Cold War
Since 2016, many commentators have expressed shock at the so-called rise of the far right in America at the expense of “responsible” and “respectable” conservatism. But is the far right an aberration in conservative politics?
As David Austin Walsh shows, the mainstream conservative movement and the far right have been intertwined for nearly a century, and both were born out of a “right-wing popular front” linking racists, anti-Semites, and fascists in a broad coalition opposed to socialism, communism, and New Deal liberalism.

Far from being outliers in the broader conservative coalition, these extremist elements were foundational in the creation of a right‑wing political culture centered around shared political enemies, a penchant for conspiracy theories, and a desire to restore America to its “authentic” pre–New Deal values.
The popular front included Merwin Hart, a New York business lobbyist active in far-right circles who became a lobbyist for the Franco regime in Spain, the original “America First” movement, the movement to prevent Jewish immigration to the United States after World War II, the John Birch Society, the American Nazi Party, the George Wallace presidential campaign of 1968, the fight over the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Pat Buchanan’s support of Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk during the Reagan Administration. And connecting this disparate coalition was William F. Buckley, Jr., the editor of National Review and America’s leading “responsible conservative.”

About the Author

David Austin Walsh is a postdoctoral associate at the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism and a College Fellow at the University of Virginia. He splits his time between New Haven, CT, and Charlottesville, VA.

Praise For…

“This is going to be a book to reckon with and I think it will take its place as one of the most important studies that we have not just of modern conservatism but of twentieth-century American political culture.”—Lawrence B. Glickman, author of Free Enterprise

“A masterful unearthing of the deep connection between America’s Far right ‘lunatic fringe’ and ‘respectable conservatism,’ showing how they were brought together by anti-Black racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of labor unions, and opposition to the expansion of the welfare state. Walsh’s research shows that far from being a sudden turn in the age of Trump, this toxic partnership has been active in American politics since the 1930s.”—Hasia Diner, New York University

“Walsh digs deep into the archives to provide shrewd, fresh insights into one of the most pressing questions in modern American politics: how did a conservative movement that had supposedly ‘purged’ its extremist fringe give us Donald Trump and his epigones.”—Rick Perlstein, author of Reaganland: America’s Right Turn, 1976–1980

“For far too long historians neglected the homegrown tradition of American fascism, with its antisemitic, xenophobic, and white nationalist political ideals. With impeccable research and measured prose, Walsh unearths a twentieth-century history of conservatism tied to the extremes of far-right politics and to today’s surging MAGAism.”—Lila Corwin Berman, author of The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The History of a Multibillion Dollar Institution

Product Details
ISBN: 9780300260977
ISBN-10: 0300260970
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: April 16th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English