Turning Right in the Sixties

The Conservative Capture of the GOP

By Mary C. Brennan

224 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5864-6
    Published: March 2007
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7496-2
    Published: November 2000
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6056-4
    Published: November 2000

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Ideologically divided and disorganized in 1960, the conservative wing of the Republican Party appeared to many to be virtually obsolete. However, over the course of that decade, the Right reinvented itself and gained control of the party. In Turning Right in the Sixties, Mary Brennan describes how conservative Americans from a variety of backgrounds, feeling disfranchised and ignored, joined forces to make their voices heard and by 1968 had gained enough power within the party to play the decisive role in determining the presidential nominee.

Building on Barry Goldwater's short-lived bid for the presidential nomination in 1960, Republican conservatives forged new coalitions, began to organize at the grassroots level, and gained enough support to guarantee Goldwater the nomination in 1964. Brennan argues that Goldwater's loss to Lyndon Johnson in the general election has obscured the more significant fact that conservatives had wrested control of the Republican Party from the moderates who had dominated it for years. The lessons conservatives learned in that campaign, she says, aided them in 1968 and laid the groundwork for Ronald Reagan's presidential victory in 1980.

About the Author

Mary C. Brennan is associate professor of history at Southwest Texas State University.
For more information about Mary C. Brennan, visit the Author Page.


"[May] begin to put to rest the tired notion that conservative politics amount to a 'paranoid style.'"--The Wall Street Journal

"Mary C. Brennan's book provides a useful chronological account of the rise, fall, and potent afterlife of Goldwater's crusade."--American Historical Review

"A welcome and worthy addition to the literature."--Political Science Quarterly

"[Brennan] not only advances our understanding of the rise of the right; she also offers a more balanced and, ultimately, more accurate view than we have had before of the most tumultuous decade of the century."--Atlantic Monthly

"A clear, uncomplicated story of how conservatives moved from the ashes of defeat in 1964 to control over the Republican Party and the White House."--Choice

"A well researched contribution that provides the reader with a sound overview of the growing conservative groundswell in the ranks of the GOP before and after the 1960 election."--Reviews in American History