Rebels All!: Rebels All! a Short History of the Conservative Mind in Postwar America

Kevin Mattson (Author)


Do you ever wonder why conservative pundits drop the word "faggot" or talk about killing and then Christianizing Muslims abroad? Do you wonder why the right's spokespeople seem so confrontational, rude, and over-the-top recently? Does it seem strange that conservative books have such apocalyptic titles? Do you marvel at why conservative writers trumpeted the "rebel" qualities of George W. Bush just a few years back?

There is no doubt that the style of the political right today is tough, brash, and by many accounts, not very conservative sounding. After all, isn't conservatism supposed to be about maintaining standards, upholding civility, and frowning upon rebellion? Historian Kevin Mattson explains the apparent contradictions of the party in this fresh examination of the postwar conservative mind. Examining a big cast of characters that includes William F. Buckley, Whittaker Chambers, Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Kevin Phillips, David Brooks, and others, Mattson shows how right-wing intellectuals have always, but in different ways, played to the populist and rowdy tendencies in America's political culture. He boldly compares the conservative intellectual movement to the radical utopians among the New Left of the 1960s and he explains how conservatism has ingested central features of American culture, including a distrust of sophistication and intellectualism and a love of popular culture, sensation, shock, and celebrity.

Both a work of history and political criticism, Rebels All! shows how the conservative mind made itself appealing, but also points to its endemic problems. Mattson's conclusion outlines how a recast liberalism should respond to the conservative ascendancy that has marked our politics for the last thirty years.

Product Details

Rutgers University Press
Publish Date
June 03, 2008
5.84 X 0.71 X 8.58 inches | 0.78 pounds
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About the Author

Kevin Mattson is the Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University. He is the author of Rebels All!, When America Was Great, Upton Sinclair and the Other American Century, Intellectuals in Action, and What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President? He has written for the American Prospect, Dissent, Nation, New York Times Book Review, and Washington Post Book World, among many other publications.


"Bright, insightful, and expansive, Rebels All! is an intelligent, provocative, and highly readable interpretation of the modern conservative movement and mind. Mattson offers the kind of broad, historically informed analysis that will reshape how readers think about the American conservative impulse that has grown so potent in recent years.
"--Nelson Lichtenstein "editor of American Capitalism: Social Thought and Political Economy in the Twen "
"There are many books on conservatism, but none of them gives us exactly what Rebels All! does: a somewhat irreverent account of postwar conservatism delivered with Mattson's trademark sharp interpretive point of view."--Neil Jumonville "editor of The New York Intellectuals Reader "
"This is a brilliantly irreverent study of a shrewdly irreverent movement. Kevin Mattson, one of our finest historians of liberalism, captures the ties that bind William F. Buckley to Ann Coulter, and he does so with a light touch that even his subjects should admire."--Michael Kazin "author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan "
"Mattson's account of the contemporary American 'conservative mind' is provocative and persuasive. Concise and lively, Mattson's book will appeal to readers seeking a general introduction to American conservatism, and to scholars interested in new ways of engaging the conservative political vision. Highly recommended."--CHOICE