Longtime activist, author, and antifeminist leader Phyllis Schlafly is for many the symbol of the conservative movement in America. In this provocative new book, historian Donald T. Critchlow sheds new light on Schlafly's life and on the unappreciated role her grassroots activism played in transforming America's political landscape.
Based on exclusive and unrestricted access to Schlafly's papers as well as sixty other archival collections, the book reveals for the first time the inside story of this Missouri-born mother of six who became one of the most controversial forces in modern political history. It takes us from Schlafly's political beginnings in the Republican Right after the World War II through her years as an anticommunist crusader to her more recent efforts to thwart same-sex marriage and stem the flow of illegal immigrants.
Schlafly's political career took off after her book A Choice Not an Echo helped secure Barry Goldwater's nomination. With sales of more than 3 million copies, the book established her as a national voice within the conservative movement. But it was Schlafly's bid to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment that gained her a grassroots following. Her anti-ERA crusade attracted hundreds of thousands of women into the conservative fold and earned her a name as feminism's most ardent opponent. In the 1970s, Schlafly founded the Eagle Forum, a Washington-based conservative policy organization that today claims a membership of 50,000 women.
Filled with fresh insights into these and other initiatives, Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism provides a telling profile of one of the most influential activists in recent history. Sure to invite spirited debate, it casts new light on a major shift in American politics, the emergence of the Republican Right.
"[This] new political biography . . . by Donald Critchlow, follows Schlafly from her birth to the present day--at eighty-one, she is still putting out the Report. Critchlow, a history professor at Saint Louis University, argues for the exemplarity of Schlafly's life, which, he claims, parallels the rise of American conservatism."--Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker
"In Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism, Donald T. Critchlow uses the career of the woman feminists love to hate as a lens through which to examine the neglected history of grassroots conservatism in postwar America. Critchlow combines scholarly rigor with fine prose to produce the best book ever written on this subject."--Bracy Bersnak, American Spectator
"Had Schlafly been a figure of the Left, this book extolling her remarkable achievements would join a bookcase of similar flattering portraits acknowledging her as one of the most influential Americans in the second half of the 20th century. But because her influence prevented a destructive feminist agenda from being enshrined in the Constitution, she has had to wait 50 years for this book--the work of a respectful academic who has delved into the archives to tell an important untold story."--Kate O'Beirne, National Review
"In this riveting, valuable book, Donald Critchlow makes the case for a Great Woman theory of history."--Charlotte Allen, First Things
Table of Contents:
Chapter One: The Making of a Grassroots Conservative 12
Chapter Two: Ideology and Politics in 1952 37
Chapter Three: Anticommunism: AYoung Woman's Crusade 62
Chapter Four: The Republican Right Under Attack 89
Chapter Five: The Goldwater Campaign 109
Chapter Six: The Establishment Purges Schlafly 137
Chapter Seven: Confronting the Soviets in a Nuclear Age 163
Chapter Eight: Nixon Betrays the Right 183
Chapter Nine: The ERA Battle Revives the Right 212
Chapter Ten: The Triumph of the Right 243
Chapter Eleven: Ideology and Power in a Divided Nation 270
Manuscript Collections 305