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Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism, George Hawley

Reviewed by Paul Elliott Johnson



George Hawley has written a book that is a timely exploration of the past and present of American conservatism, mapping various schools of thought within the American right. Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism focuses particularly on conservative voices in the wilderness, those that do not appear to be in the driver's seat of the political conversation. Since the 2016 presidential election, of course, it seems Hawley has unintentionally written what, in parts, is a kind of guidebook for making sense of what is a not particularly stable—but certainly existent—conservative coalition that maintains a skeptical yet very faithful relationship with the Republican Party. For good reason, Hawley consistently notes that the conservative establishment appears to have a weak grip on power.

Hawley's book offers nine chapters worth of case studies. Chapter 2 focuses on the purges that have made American conservatism at key moments and that have also delineated the criteria by which these “right-wing critics” of conservatism are determined. In the quite prescient conclusion of this chapter, Hawley notes that “organized conservatism's weakness will open up a new space for right-wing ideological movements that have long lived on the fringe” (p. 73). This chapter details the purges of members of the John Birch Soc

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