The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America

Ronald Brownstein, Author , Penguin Press $27.95 (496p) ISBN 978-1-59420-139-4

With this intelligent and expansive book, Los Angeles Times political correspondent and columnist Brownstein dissects the hyperpartisanship that he believes “has unnecessarily inflamed our differences and impeded progress against our most pressing challenges.” The first half of the book examines the roots of this hyperpartisanship, beginning with the 1896 election of William McKinley, which the author argues ushered in four decades of fierce partisan division. The 1938 resurgence of the Republican Party marked the start of the “age of bargaining,” with presidents and legislators crossing party lines to govern through consensus. The author believes both parties became more ideologically consistent during the 1960s, resulting in a “sorting out” of the electorate that eventually led to today's partisan divisiveness. This thorough history lays the groundwork for Brownstein's incisive analysis of the contemporary Republican and Democratic parties. He resists blaming any one party or president for the state of contemporary American politics, instead attributing partisan divisions to interest groups, changes in congressional rules and practices and the realignment of the parties and electorate. This sophisticated though lengthy book lays out a complex history with lucid precision, painting a damning portrait of contemporary politics that's sure to provoke and captivate readers interested in American politics and history. (Nov. 1)

Reviewed on: 09/03/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 484 pages - 978-0-14-311432-1
Open Ebook - 496 pages - 978-1-4362-8929-0
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 496 pages - 978-1-4362-8930-6
Open Ebook - 496 pages - 978-1-4406-3812-1
Open Ebook - 978-1-101-39178-5
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