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Strom Thurmond's America

A History

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


"Do not forget that ‘skill and integrity' are the keys to success." This was the last piece of advice on a list Will Thurmond gave his son Strom in 1923. The younger Thurmond would keep the words in mind throughout his long and colorful career as one of the South's last race-baiting demagogues and as a national power broker who, along with Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, was a major figure in modern conservative politics.

But as the historian Joseph Crespino demonstrates in Strom Thurmond's America, the late South Carolina senator followed only part of his father's counsel. Political skill was the key to Thurmond's many successes; a consummate opportunist, he had less use for integrity. He was a thoroughgoing racist—he is best remembered today for his twenty-four-hour filibuster in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957—but he fathered an illegitimate black daughter whose existence he did not publicly acknowledge during his lifetime. A onetime Democrat and labor supporter, he switched parties in 1964 and helped to dismantle New Deal protections for working Americans.

If Thurmond was a great hypocrite, though, he was also an innovator who saw the future of conservative politics before just about anyone else. As early as the 1950s, he began to forge alliances with Christian Right activists, and he eagerly took up the causes of big business, military spending, and anticommunism. Crespino's adroit, lucid portrait reveals that Thurmond was, in fact, both a segregationist and a Sunbelt conservative. The implications of this insight are vast. Thurmond was not a curiosity from a bygone era, but rather one of the first conservative Republicans we would recognize as such today. Strom Thurmond's America is about how he made his brand of politics central to American life.

From Publishers Weekly

May 21, 2012 – In this impressive biography of the late South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond (1902 2003), Emory University historian Crespino (In Search of Another Country) steps beyond the usual white devil caricature of an arch-segregationist to provide an evenhanded and sharp account of the man. An avatar of the Republican Party s southern strategy, Thurmond switched to the Republican Party in 1964 to campaign for Goldwater. As a ranking U.S. senator from 1956 to 2003, Thurmond amassed an immense amount of legislative power. During his long career, Thurmond contested the Supreme Court, communism, organized labor, affirmative action, abortion, and antimilitarism. Thurmond is incorrectly held up as an example of merely the Old Right. In fact, he was central to the creation of the New, Crespino argues. While forgoing easy charges of structural racism in the Republican Party, he minces no words: Thurmond was a thoroughgoing racist and one of the last of the Jim Crow demagogues. Thurmond persistently tried to impede integration and limit voting rights for blacks. When the school busing wars came in the 1970s, Thurmond and other Southerners were comforted to know that the outrage they had long felt over desegregation was spreading across the country. Crespino s portrait reveals a flawed, egotistical, unapologetic, headstrong man whose views helped give birth to the contemporary Right and whose legacy continues to influence the GOP. Illus.
Strom Thurmond's America
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Sep 04, 2012
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan
  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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