... well-written if familiar ... Seib’s history echoes the outlook of the #NeverTrump movement. If the origins of conservatism were relatively pristine, then there can be a version of Republicanism that doesn’t tolerate a president tweeting out videos of a supporter yelling 'white power!' at protesters ... But Seib plays down what was there all along. The decision to stir a white backlash dates back at least to Richard Nixon’s 1968 'law and order' campaign. The role of reactionary populism, including nativism and anti-Semitism, was always relevant, even if past politicians used dog whistles instead of bullhorns.
... a judicious and approachable chronicle of the evolution of the Republican Party from the Reagan revolution in the 1980s to the rise of Trumpism. Rather than focusing on demographics and statistics, Seib tells a more human story of the individuals and grassroots infrastructure that drove the evolution of the conservative movement ... Avoiding wonkishness while making such policy elements as supply-side economics and the Reagan-era tax cuts comprehensible, Seib draws on his insider perspective to deliver an incisive assessment of 'the most important political story of the millennium.' Political junkies will savor this evenhanded, anecdote-rich account.
The author also has numerous kind things to say about George W. Bush ('an instantly likable man with a quick mind and an air of self-assurance'), words that will no doubt surprise some readers. Seib calls the Iraq War a 'misadventure' and argues that the primary problem for Bush regarding Hurricane Katrina was that 'the optics were bad' ... Although the author mentions race as a factor a few times, he does not pursue it thoroughly ... Generously conceived, thoroughly researched, and guaranteed to please no one at the political extremes.