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An informative brief review of a wide-ranging definition of conservatism in America. While one of the two co-editors (Critchlow) has selected some classics of 20th century conservatism, the other (MacLean) has found what she perceives as "gotcha" articles not reflective of the overall conservative position. For example, 5 of her 9 documents center on civil rights, three of which are from the 1950s and attempt to tar conservatism with segregation and racism. The Buckley letter she dug up from 1958 is totally irrelevant to her charge.
Neither historian offers a very compelling critique of American conservatism. Critchlow's version of history tries hard to divorce Southern Democrats from the American conservative tradition, while trying to marry the Republican party of the 1950s to that of George W. Bush. His is a very softball view of Conservatism which does little to explore in depth the actual philosophies that drive the movement. MacLean's reading, however, is far worse. Her "interpretation" of the history of Conservatism is nothing more than 100 or so accusations that all "conservative" philosophy -- from opposition to massive government, activist courts, redistribution and theft -- are really just code-talk for the indisputable (and unsupported) fact that, after all, conservatives just hate poor people, blacks, women, Jews, and anyone else who wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth.