All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s

. September 2012. 512p. 978-0-80909-502-5. 30.
Self’s (American history, Brown Univ.) All in the Family is meticulous, convincing, and engaging. It explains the rightward lurch in American politics and society from the death of New Deal “breadwinner liberalism” in the early 1960s, through the “all politics is personal” era of the late ’60s and early ’70s, to the rightwing counterattack and triumph of “breadwinner conservatism” in the mid-1970s up to 2008. It brings to life the liberal-conservative clash over political, social, religious, and sexual idealizations of the American family. Self illustrates the struggles of homosexuals and women (and minorities within those two groups) to liberate themselves from rigid postwar social norms and constricted economic opportunities, thereby provoking a furious backlash that unites social-religious conservatives with laissez-faire activists on the right. The resulting puritanical free-market world view continues to dominate American politics.
VERDICT Self has written a book that should become the authoritative social history of the U.S. since the 1960s.
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