In Gang of Five, bestselling author Nina J. Easton adds an important element to the history of American politics in the last thirty years. This is the story of the other, less well known segment of the baby-boom generation. These are young conservative activists who arrived on campus in the 1970s in rebellion against everything "sixties" and went on to overturn the political dynamics of the country in the 1980s and 1990s. They've been waging what Newt Gingrich called a "war without blood" for three decades. Gang of Five portrays the intertwining careers of five major figures:
BILL KRISTOL, the Harvard-educated elitist and publisher of the Weekly Standard, is the liberal establishment's worst nightmare -- a witty, erudite Rightist who was a leading force behind the demise of the Clinton health care plan, the historic reform of welfare, and the decision of House Republicans to impeach the president.
RALPH REED, the hardball politico who helped turn an organization called the College Republicans into a kind of communist cell of the Right, in the 1990s tried to give the Religious Right a softer face as leader of the Christian Coalition but was thwarted by his thirst for power and the narrow fundamentalism of his activist followers.
CLINT BOLICK, a leading force in the spread of school choice programs and the anti-affirmative action strategist who sank Lani Guinier's appointment, is the idealist who seeks to convince civil rights leaders that his legal work on behalf of disadvantaged minorities is sincere and that liberal programs hurt the people they are meant to help.
GROVER NORQUIST, the "market Leninist" who divides the world into "good" and "evil," is at the hub of Hillary Clinton's "vast right-wing conspiracy" and is the architect of a no-new-taxes pledge signed by all major Republican candidates in the 1990s.
DAVID MCINTOSH, the policy wonk who took the movement's war on Washington to Congress as leader of the House Republican freshmen during the Gingrich Revolution, pushed his party toward confrontation with the White House and is now running for governor in Indiana.
In contrast to earlier generations of conservatives, these leaders and their allies tasted success, first with Ronald Reagan's twin victories in the 1980s and then, in the 1990s, with the Republican capture of Congress. They play to win and have had a hand in every major insurrection from the Right over the past two decades -- from abortion politics to government shutdowns to political muckracking. No politician can ignore their agenda or escape the new hardball rules they've written for national politics.
E. J. Dionne Jr. author of Why Americans Hate Politics and They Only Look Dead Read Nina Easton's fine book if you care about where American politics is going. And, especially, read it if you enjoy an elegant page-turner of a biography.
Joe Klein author of Primary Colors and The Running Mate What fun! A cross between The Best and the Brightest and Revenge of the Nerds. Nina Easton brings a strange and wonderful cast of characters to life in a book that is serious and often hilarious.
Mark Shields syndicated columnist; political commentator, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Gang of Five is an intriguing chronicle of the human element behind the Right's successful, if hostile, takeover of much of American politics in the last twenty-five years. Scrupulously researched, stylishly written, Gang of Five grasps what most infuriates liberals about the ascendant Right -- that it has beaten the Left at its own game. Nina Easton reveals a Right that has made many of the same mistakes that led to the demise of the liberal establishment: scorning compromise, overreaching, pursuing power as a blood sport.
Paul Gigot columnist, The Wall Street Journal; political commentator, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer The rise of the political Right caught most journalists by surprise because they didn't take conservatives seriously. Nina Easton is a rare reporter who does. She almost never agrees with her five prominent profile subjects, but her illuminating book shows what they believe, why they believe it, and how they're succeeding.
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