A few years ago, during a classroom discussion on the impact of the Watergate scandal on the American two-party political system, one of my brightest, most politically engaged students raised his hand and asked, with all sincerity, “What is a liberal Republican?” The question was indicative of both the current polarized political climate and the prevalence of conservatism as a historiographical topic over the last two decades. Geoffrey Kabaservice's Rule and Ruin provides much-needed balance to the literature through his well-researched, highly readable account of the decline of the once-dominant centrist wing of the gop.

The decade of the 1950s was the heyday of moderate republicanism, thanks to Thomas Dewey's national, grassroots network of supporters and Dwight D. Eisenhower's popularity. By 1960, however, Dewey's organization had atrophied and conservatives were poised to retake control of the party following Richard M. Nixon's loss to John F. Kennedy. As this conflict...

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