Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman's Crusade (Politics and Society in Modern America)

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9780691136240: Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman's Crusade (Politics and Society in Modern America)

Longtime activist, author, and antifeminist leader Phyllis Schlafly is for many the symbol of the conservative movement in America. In this provocative new book, historian Donald T. Critchlow sheds new light on Schlafly's life and on the unappreciated role her grassroots activism played in transforming America's political landscape.

Based on exclusive and unrestricted access to Schlafly's papers as well as sixty other archival collections, the book reveals for the first time the inside story of this Missouri-born mother of six who became one of the most controversial forces in modern political history. It takes us from Schlafly's political beginnings in the Republican Right after the World War II through her years as an anticommunist crusader to her more recent efforts to thwart same-sex marriage and stem the flow of illegal immigrants.

Schlafly's political career took off after her book A Choice Not an Echo helped secure Barry Goldwater's nomination. With sales of more than 3 million copies, the book established her as a national voice within the conservative movement. But it was Schlafly's bid to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment that gained her a grassroots following. Her anti-ERA crusade attracted hundreds of thousands of women into the conservative fold and earned her a name as feminism's most ardent opponent. In the 1970s, Schlafly founded the Eagle Forum, a Washington-based conservative policy organization that today claims a membership of 50,000 women.

Filled with fresh insights into these and other initiatives, Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism provides a telling profile of one of the most influential activists in recent history. Sure to invite spirited debate, it casts new light on a major shift in American politics, the emergence of the Republican Right.

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From the Back Cover:

"This book makes a number of important contributions to existing work on the rise of the Right, twentieth-century American politics, and the place of moral issues in the modern American conservative movement."--Paula Baker, author of The Moral Frameworks of Public Life: Gender, Politics, and the State in Rural New York, 1870-1930.

"Richly researched and elegantly written, this gem of a book makes important contributions to the growing literature on the origins and surprising successes of modern conservatism. Underscoring the important role women have played on the Right, this political biography illuminates the relationship between civil society activism and intellectual direction, the importance of anticommunist legacies, and the crucial role played by the heady combination of religion and values in reshaping the polity."--Ira Katznelson, Columbia University, author of When Affirmative Action Was White

"In this timely and wonderfully researched book, Critchlow has provided us an invaluable guide to the grassroots politics basic to conservatives' rocky ascendancy over the last half century. The focus on Schlafly and the role of women conservatives make it essential reading for those interested in women's political activism and the making of Republican Right."--Jane Sherron De Hart, University of California at Santa Barbara

"Anyone seeking to understand the historical roots of our current culture wars should read this illuminating book. Donald T. Critchlow has written a first-rate biography of a talented political activist---and made an impressive contribution to the historiography of American conservatism."--George Nash, author of The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945

"Conservatives will cheer and liberals weep at this careful, thoughtful, and sympathetic portrait of Phyllis Schlafly. Donald Critchlow's uses his compelling biography to tell an even larger story--the triumph of the American Right in the last third of the twentieth century."--James A Morone, author of Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History and The Democratic Wish

"Phyllis Schlafly is the most consequential woman in American politics since Susan B. Anthony, and as such a full-scale biography is long overdue. Donald Critchlow delivers a thoroughly fair and dispassionate account of this chief scourge of feminism, who ironically proved just how powerful a woman can be in modern America."--Steven F. Hayward, author of The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980

About the Author:

Donald T. Critchlow is the author or editor of twelve books on modern American politics, public policy, and business. He is a professor of history at Saint Louis University.

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