Rick Perlstein joins criticism of Nancy MacLean's "Democracy in Chains"

Historians in the News
tags: Nancy MacLean



Rick Perlstein is the author of "Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America" and "The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan," among other books.

Related Links 

● How Nancy MacLean Went Whistlin’ Dixie (HNN's Liberty & Power blog)

● A New History of the Right Has Become an Intellectual Flashpoint (Chronicle of Higher Ed)

● Nancy MacLean Responds to Her Critics (Chronicle of Higher Ed)

● Nancy MacLean’s new book "Democracy in Chains" is under attack from the right (Inside Higher Ed)

● Nancy MacLean says before her research she had never heard of the conservative who is front & center in her new book on democracy (Bill Moyers website)

It pains me very deeply to say this, as Nancy Maclean is a friend whose past work I deeply admire, and whose broad political aims I share, but I totally endorse this article about her book "Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for Democracy." Maclean really does, at times, distort quotes from the subject to claim they mean the opposite of what they actually mean. 

Yet more damningly, in my opinion, the foundation of the entire book is a conspiracy theory that suggests that if you understand THIS ONE SECRET PLAN, you understand the rise of the right in America in its entirety. Which suggests you don't need to understand any of a score of other important tributaries, some of them not top-down conspiratorial at all but deeply, organically bottom up, which gave us the political order of battle we know now. That you don't need to read anything else. Which is actively dangerous to historical understanding.

[This is the complete text of Rick Perlstein's Facebook post.]




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