Focusing on the Tea Party

A new book by Harvard scholars Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson attracts attention as the presidential primary season begins.

As New Hampshire voters made ready to cast their ballots in 2012’s first presidential primary, the New York Times published a review of The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism (Oxford University Press)—a new book by Thomas professor of government and sociology Theda Skocpol and graduate student Vanessa Williamson offering one of the first comprehensive, empirical analyses of the political phenomenon that has already helped shape the GOP’s bid to regain the White House and U.S. Senate.

Times reviewer Timothy Noah ’80, a senior editor at the New Republic and former Undergraduate columnist for this magazine, praises Skocpol and Williamson for an “exceptionally informative” work that elucidates important differences between the Tea Party and a previous high tide of Republican conservatism—the Goldwater presidential campaign of 1964—and clarifies the complexities within the Tea Party movement itself. For more on that topic, and on the research that Skocpol and Williamson did for their book, see “Tea Party Passions” in the current issue of Harvard Magazine.

Noah’s article also covers a new book by Geoffrey Kabaservice, G ’97, Rule and Ruin—The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party: From Eisenhower to the Tea Party (Oxford), which Noah calls a “wonderfully detailed new history of moderate Republicanism.” (Kabaservice’s previous work, The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment, was nominated for the National Book Award.)  The double review shares the front page of the Times’s Sunday section with a lively review by Michael Kinsley ’72, J.D. ’77, another former Undergraduate columnist, of Thomas Frank’s Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right (Metropolitan/Henry Holt). Kinsley is now a columnist for Bloomberg View.


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