Exit Right

Exit Right

The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century

Book - 2016
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"A provocative, intimate look at the evolution of America's political soul through the lives of six political figures--from Whittaker Chambers to Christopher Hitchens--who abandoned the left and joined the right. In Exit Right, Daniel Oppenheimer tells the stories of six major political figures whose journeys away from the left reshaped the contours of American politics in the twentieth century. By going deep into the minds of six apostates--Whittaker Chambers, James Burnham, Ronald Reagan, Norman Podhoretz, David Horowitz, and Christopher Hitchens--Oppenheimer offers an unusually intimate history of the American left, and the right's reaction. Oppenheimer is a brilliant new voice in political history who has woven together the past century's most important movements into a single book that reveals the roots of American politics. Through the eyes of his six subjects, we see America grow, stumble, and forge ahead--from World War I up through the Great Depression and World War II, from the Red Scare up through the Civil Rights Movement, and from the birth of neoconservatism up through 9/11 and the dawn of the Iraq War. At its core, Exit Right is a book that asks profound questions about why and how we come to believe politically at all--on the left or the right. Each of these six lives challenges us to ask where our own beliefs come from, and what it might take to change them. At a time of sky-high partisanship, Oppenheimer breaks down the boundaries that divide us and investigates the deeper origins of our politics. This is a book that will resonate with readers on the left and the right--as well as those stuck somewhere in the middle"--
Publisher: New York :, Simon & Schuster,, 2016.
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781416589709
1416589708
Branch Call Number: 324.2092 Oppenhei 01/2016
Characteristics: x, 403 pages ;,24 cm

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lukasevansherman
Apr 28, 2016

Writer and filmmaker Daniel Oppenheimer uses 6 American figures to guide us through the transformation of conservative and political thought in the 20th century. What all the figures have in common is they started as liberals or as outright leftists and later moved towards the right, renouncing their more radical politics and often breaking with their friends and colleagues. Conservative icon Ronald Reagan and iconoclastic essayist Christopher Hitchens are the best known names, but he also looks at Whittaker Chambers and James Burnham, who were both communists, and writers Norman Podhoretz (who edited Commentary magazine) and David Horowitz, who worked at Ramparts magazine. For some it was an agonizing decision, while for someone like Reagan, it just felt like a natural progression. There's some good discussion of the leftist and Marxist context that many of them emerged from, but I wish he looked more at their continuing influence on the conservative movement, especially as it finds itself at the crossroads. "The Reactionary Mind" looks more at the thought and theory behind conservative politics, while Thomas Frank offers more of a demolition job of the Republican brand. Regardless of its flaws, a useful and sometimes insightful book on an interesting subject.

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