Acclaimed historian Rick Perlstein chronicles the rise of the conservative movement in the liberal 1960s. At the heart of the story is Barry Goldwater, the renegade Republican from Arizona who loathed federal government, despised liberals, and mocked “peaceful coexistence” with the USSR. Perlstein’s narrative shines a light on a whole world of conservatives and their antagonists, including William F. Buckley, Nelson Rockefeller, and Bill Moyers. Vividly written, Before the Storm is an essential book about the 1960s. Winner of the 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Award for history.


“Occasionally a book comes along which causes historians to rethink an entire era. Rick Perlstein’s remarkable BEFORE THE STORM: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus is such an achievement: elegantly written, copiously researched, brimming with fresh anecdotes. Perlstein illuminates how conservatism erupted into a mass political movement while the academic scholars and media pundits were embracing Great Society Liberalism and Counterculture Despair. A truly landmark study.”
—Douglas Brinkley, author of The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter’s Journey Beyond the White House

“Before the Storm is one of the finest studies of the American right to appear since the days of Hofstadter. Read it and understand where the mad public faiths of our own day came from.”
—Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter With Kansas

“Perlstein writes with panache and insight about a pivotal moment in modern American history. A must read for anyone interested in the intertwined fates of conservatism and liberalism in the politics of the last half-century.”
—David M. Kennedy, author of Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“Finally, a gifted writer has told the full story of the difficult birth and exuberant adolescence of the conservative movement that went on to transform American politics. Rick Perlstein’s indispensable history is stuffed with wit, learning, and drama. After reading it, you will never think of the 1960s in the same way again.”
—Michael Kazin, co-author, America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s

“Writing with the authority of an academic historian and the dash of a journalist, Mr. Perlstein manages to break free of the partisan ideées revues and doctrinal laziness that typify so much writing on recent history. There is something independent, un-bought-out and, in the best sense, radical about this book.”
—Christopher Caldwell, The New York Observer

“Anyone who has read Perlstein’s wonderfully colorful account of the Goldwater nomination and his subsequent defeat in November 1964 will be sorry that the book stops here…Let us hope that Perlstein is already at work on another book about it all.”
—William A. Rusher, former publisher, National Review

“Perlstein is such a treat storyteller—one of the most enjoyable historians I’ve ever read.”
—Robert Sherrill, The Nation