In 1984, Washington Post reporter Thomas Edsall authored The New Politics of Inequality, a groundbreaking work that is still the single best study of Reagan-age politics and that established Edsall as one of the nation’s foremost political analysts. The New Politics is a combination Cook’s Tour/Class Analysis of the forces that led to the
Reagan Revolution—the rise of right-wing oil-patch money, the conversion of Congressional Democrats to a more suburban-based and business-funded party, the decline of labor and working-class voting. Much of the material and analysis in The New Politics was new, and Edsall presented it with clarity and force.
His new book, which he’s written with his wife Mary, is at once more ambitious and less startling. Chain Reaction analyzes the conservative ascendancy that began in 1968, chiefly by documenting how the Democrats’ commitment to a series of civil and minority rights causes busted up the New Deal coalition and enabled the Republicans to assemble a victorious top-down alliance in presidential politics....
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