Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism

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9781620970966: Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism

In a major reassessment of modern conservatism, noted historian Kathryn S. Olmsted reexamines the explosive labor disputes in the agricultural fields of Depression-era California, the cauldron that inspired a generation of artists and writers and that triggered the intervention of FDR’s New Deal. Right Out of California tells how this brief moment of upheaval terrified business leaders into rethinking their relationship to American politics—a narrative that pits a ruthless generation of growers against a passionate cast of reformers, writers, and revolutionaries.

Olmsted reveals how California’s businessmen learned the language of populism with the help of allies in the media and entertainment industries, and in the process created a new style of politics: corporate funding of grassroots groups, military-style intelligence gathering against political enemies, professional campaign consultants, and alliances between religious and economic conservatives. The business leaders who battled for the hearts and minds of Depression-era California, moreover, would go on to create the organizations that launched the careers of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. A riveting history in its own right, Right Out of California is also a vital chapter in our nation’s political transformation whose echoes are still felt today.

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About the Author:

Kathryn Olmsted is chair of the history department at the University of California, Davis. A noted historian of anticommunism, she is the author of several books, including "Challenging the Secret Government," "Red Spy Queen," and "Real Enemies." She lives in Davis, California.


Praise for Right Out of California:
Olmstead’s vivid, accomplished narrative really belongs to the historiography of the left .ás her strong research shows, race and gender prejudice informed or deformed, almost the whole of American social and cultural life in the 1930’s and was as common on the left as on the right.
The New York Times Book Review

"An accessible work that aids in contextualizing the rise of future conservative leaders such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan."
Publishers Weekly

"A well-focused academic study. Olmsted . . . finds in Depression-era California the crucible for strong-arm policies against farm workers that bolstered the conservative movement."

"A major reworking of the Republican right’s origins, this is also a compelling read for anyone interested in California’s outsize importance in America’s recent past."
Darren Dochuk, author of From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism

Praise for Real Enemies:
Exquisitely researched and annotated A startling read of public history.”
Chicago Tribune

Praise for Challenging the Secret Government:
"Olmsted successfully confronts and refutes the heroic myths surrounding post-Watergate journalism."
The Nation

"A fascinating study of how, just months after Watergate, both press and Congress quietly retreated to the same silk-gloved handling of the CIA and FBI in the name of national security."
Publishers Weekly

Praise for Red Spy Queen:
"One of the most significant works to emerge in McCarthyism studies since the collapse of communism."
The Wall Street Journal

"A revealing and compassionate biography."

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