Barry Goldwater


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Robert Alan Goldberg

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Barry Goldwater is widely regarded as one of the most prominent and controversial politicians of our century, a man whose influence on American conservatism led President Ronald Reagan to honor him with the title "Mr. Conservative" when he retired after thirty years in the Senate. A populist from Arizona, Goldwater helped change the complexion of the Republican Party both ideologically and geographically and planted the seeds for the future growth of the New Right.
This biography is the most up-to-date and balanced account of Goldwater ever written. Drawing on interviews with Goldwater and with a wide range of his friends, family members, and colleagues, as well as on family papers, Robert Goldberg provides new and fascinating information about Goldwater's private and public life. Goldberg describes Goldwater's youth, family, and early business enterprises, showing how he both shaped and was shaped by the increasingly sophisticated American southwest. He tells us about Goldwater's political career and its aftermath, giving insight into his opposition to the senatorial censure of Joseph McCarthy; his 1964 presidential campaign; his role in such political turning points as Watergate and Reagan policy in Nicaragua; his lifelong interest in the military, which culminated with the passage of the Goldwater Military Reorganization Act during his last year in the Senate; and his recent attack on the religious right in the Republican party. Engagingly written and handsomely illustrated, the book presents a vivid picture of a man who has attained almost mythical stature as a forthright, tough-minded figure from America's past.

Robert Alan Goldberg is professor of history at the University of Utah. His most recent book is Grassroots Resistance: Social Movements in Twentieth-Century America.

"[A] sturdy political biography. . . . A useful addition to the growing library of books on Goldwater's role in postwar American politics."—Kirkus Reviews

"Robert Alan Goldberg's admirable and refreshingly brisk biography of Mr. Goldwater could hardly be better timed. Those who want to understand the cycles of success and failure of the conservative movement need to know Goldwaterism."—Jonathan Rauch, New York Times Book Review

"Goldberg's biography faithfully reflects the honesty and candor that Goldwater himself generally maintained and for which he hopes to be remembered. Goldberg has used his extraordinary access to give us an unvarnished, truthful tale of the man, with empathy and above all, critical understanding. No subject could ask for more."—Stanley I. Kutler, Chicago Tribune

"An insightful, balanced, and multifaceted examination of Goldwater. The author paints a complex portrait of a complex human being. . . . Goldberg has written an excellent, readable and literate biography. Barry Goldwater is more than scholarly and informative. The narrative has a flow to it that makes the book a joy to read, a quality of description that Goldberg's history students would describe as vintage Goldberg."—Peter Scarlet, Salt Lake City Tribune

"[A] solid biography of Arizona's former long-time senator. . . . A balanced, well-written account."—WDL, Books of the Southwest

"Robert Alan Goldberg's fine new biography should become the standard narrative of Goldwater's public career."—David C. Ward, Boston Book Review

"[A] readable and informative book."—Mary C. Brennan, Political Science Quarterly

"Robert Goldberg's impressive biography charts with admirable finesse Goldwater's path from Phoenix shopkeeper to senator to presidential candidate."—Brian Dooley, Irish Times

"[A] thoroughly researched and ultimately absorbing biography."—Anthony Howard, The Spectator

"Goldberg . . . consistently supplies the reader with pertinent economic, political, and social context for Goldwater's career. Furthermore, he furnishes an unprecedented and superb treatment of the Arizonan's relations with Native Americans, the John Birch Society, and the Arizona and national press, and he elaborates on the senator's role in the Iran-Contra affair. Goldwater emerges as a man of contradiction, driven by both conviction and insecurity. . . . Goldberg's impressive prose and historical scholarship have produced what for now must be considered the definitive Goldwater biography."—Jeffrey James Matthews, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"This is both a scholarly and an engaging biography of the conservative icon. . . . Goldwater has emerged as a somewhat unlikely champion of abortion rights and gays in the military, but these positions are consistent with his lifelong emphasis on individual freedom. They cast further doubt on his title to be father of modern conservatism."—M.J. Heale, American Studies

"Robert Alan Goldberg's Barry Goldwater is the finest biography yet to appear of the conservative senator from Arizona."—Ronald Lora, The Historian

"Goldberg gives us far and away the best biography to date of the most important presidential loser of the twentieth century."—Ray Olson, Booklist

"An informative and measured account of a man who was at the center of American conservatism during the years of its lift-off. For anyone interested in understanding how the Republican party came to triumph at the polls in 1994, the life story of the politician who led it in a 'lost-cause' election three decades ago would be a good place to start."—Richard Brookhiser, Commentary

"This is a superior work. Goldberg offers a nuanced, fair-minded portrait of Barry Goldwater, skillfully situating the Arizona senator at the intersection of two significant developments in modern America: the rise of conservatism and the growing power of the Sunbelt. . . . This book will be the standard biography of Barry Goldwater for a long time. . . . Goldberg provides a model biographical study essential for students of political and western history."—Jeffery C. Livingston, Western Historical Quarterly

"Goldberg's well-written biography of Barry Goldwater offers important insights and makes for good reading from beginning to end. It is an important contribution to our understanding of conservatism's evolution since World War II."—Bruce Nelson, Georgia Historical Quarterly

"Well researched and eloquently written, [Goldberg's] book succeeds in placing his subject's life in the context of the political crosswinds that bore him. . . . Goldberg has written a definitive critical biography of the changes Goldwater wrought in the Republican party—and in the United States—in the course of his political journey."—Eric Alterman, Journal of American History

"Goldberg tells his story straightforwardly and well. . . . The biography is . . . a judicious mix of personal sympathy for Goldwater and critical detachment from the ideas and policies he championed."—Patrick Allitt, American Historical Review

"All in all, Barry Goldwater is the best book on the subject and deserves a wide audience here and abroad."—Philip Reed Rulon, Northern Arizona University Journal of Arizona History

"This book's simple title belies the real value of historian Goldberg's work. Not only does it provide an important analysis of the career of a politician once dubbed, 'Mr. Conservative,' but it chronicles the development of today's almost orthodox conservatism, evident through the Reagan-Bush years and in the 1994 elections."—Library Journal

"This sympathetic but balanced treatment of Barry Goldwater is both readable and informative. Goldberg does an excellent job of painting the context in which the Goldwaters emerged as leaders in the transformation and growth of the West."—Max S. Power, Journal of the West

"Goldberg's elegant and well-known book provides a comprehensive overview of Goldwater's political career and places it firmly within its Arizonan context, a context moreover that includes Goldwater's individualist, but privileged background. A sympathetic biography which concentrates on the political life, but does not shy away from critical appraisals, this book is essential reading for those who wish to understand American post-war politics. . . . A complex but riveting book about a complex and fascinating politician."—Andrew Massey, Political Studies

"This book is the definitive biography of Goldwater. It is also a good story well told."—Leo Ribuffo, author of The Old Christian Right

Winner of the 1995 Evans Biography Award
ISBN: 9780300072570
Publication Date: October 20, 1997
502 pages, 6 x 9
28 b/w illus.
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