Even Rick Perlstein Questions the Merits of “Democracy in Chains”

July 19, 2017
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Even Rick Perlstein Questions the Merits of “Democracy in Chains”

From left-leaning writer Rick Perlstein’s Facebook page on July 14th (link added):

It pains me very deeply to say this, as Nancy Maclean is a friend whose past work I deeply admire, and whose broad political aims I share, but I totally endorse this article about her book “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for Democracy.” Maclean really does, at times, distort quotes from the subject to claim they mean the opposite of what they actually mean. Yet more damningly, in my opinion, the foundation of the entire book is a conspiracy theory that suggests that if you understand THIS ONE SECRET PLAN, you understand the rise of the right in America in its entirety. Which suggests you don’t need to understand any of a score of other important tributaries, some of them not top-down conspiratorial at all but deeply, organically bottom up, which gave us the political order of battle we know now. That you don’t need to read anything else. Which is actively dangerous to historical understanding.

(HT Steven Hayward)  Hayward, who has now read MacLean’s book, correctly notes that “there is literally a howler on every page.  The book ought to be withdrawn by the publisher.”

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