Alfred S. Regnery
Upstream: The Ascendance of
Threshold Editions, 464 pages, $26
The most far-reaching political development in the United States over the past half century has been the rise of conservatism from a minor intellectual movement to its status today as the nation’s governing philosophy. The conservative insurgency was all the more impressive because hardly anyone a generation ago thought it was remotely possible. Barry Goldwater’s landslide defeat in the 1964 election convinced many experts that conservatism was a lost cause that could never win the support of anyone who was not already a committed believer. “These are the years of the liberal,” John Kenneth Galbraith said shortly after that election. “Nearly everyone describes himself so.” That verdict was accepted by everyone except for a small band of conservative activists, writers, publishers, and...