Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections) by Stephen R. Prothero

Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections)

In this timely, carefully reasoned social history of the United States, the New York Times bestselling author of Religious Literacy and God Is Not One places today’s heated culture wars within the context of a centuries-long struggle of right versus left and religious versus secular to reveal how, ultimately, liberals always win.Though they may seem to be dividing the country irreparably, today’s heated cultural and political battles between ...

Details Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections)

TitleWhy Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections)
Release DateJan 5th, 2016
GenrePolitics, Nonfiction, History, Religion, Sociology

Reviews Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections)

  • Louise
    In 2006, S.T. Joshi explained why conservatives were so shrill in The Angry Right: Why Conservatives Keep Getting It Wrong. With FDR’s “unchristian Social Security” a popular program, birth control widely available and most public places successfully integrated, he showed how conservative anger stems from losing.Now, Stephen Prothero poses that it isn’t the losing that makes conservatives angry, it’s the changes that drive them to start...
  • Peter Mcloughlin
    It can be comforting to read a history that tells us our current political battles are more of the same since the beginning of the republic. Basically, the thesis of this book is the culture wars a perennial problem in our republic from the alien and sedition acts in the 1790s to the Anti-Catholic Know-nothings of the 1840s, Temperance and Prohibition and immigration restrictions of the 1920s, to our current culture wars against homosexuals and i...
  • Bonnie McDaniel
    I took a brief non-fiction break for this book, and it turned out to be a fascinating history lesson. This book goes back to the Founders, and the elections of 1796 and 1800, to weave a well-researched story about culture wars, and oppression, and how, at least in these kinds of fights, liberal progress is inevitably made.(Also, if you think the 2012 elections were nasty, and this current cycle will be worse yet--well, the Thomas Jefferson of 180...
  • Dustin
    A fascinating look at how religion (as well as racism, bigotry, and xenophobia) plays into the American political scene (from the Founding Fathers to President Obama). I highly recommend this book to all Americans before they cast their votes in November.
  • Chris Jaffe
    This is an interesting book, though it overstates its case. Prothero argues that when you look at the big cultural battles in US history, a pattern emerges. A conservative faction sees a change, denounce it, fight against it, but lose. Prothero argues that they tend to take on lost causes – they take on a change after it’s already become part of the dominant culture and isn’t going backwards. He also argues the conservatives initiate the cu...
  • Jerry Smith
    I enjoyed this book but as always, it is a book I am predestined to agree with given my political worldview. Historically this was particularly interesting and the overall theme of the book is that conservatives are always fighting a rearguard action in a vain attempt to prevent the loss of some treasured ideal, and blaming the un-American liberal as the font of all that is evil in bringing this about. I guess the argument is basically that what ...
  • Malcolm
    Stephen Prothero has written an extremely readable and well researched history of the culture wars from the founding of the republic until the present. This book is relaxed in tone and very informative. Readers interested in the current state of American politics would be well served to see how our modern history rhymes with the past.
  • Tim
    Probably 3.5 stars. I thought the premise was really interesting, but I found myself ski(mm/pp)ing large sections. It is not fair to review a book that you did not read parts of, I suppose. But, I am glad that I read the introduction and the conclusion. The rest was not worth the time and effort for me.
  • Keith Davis
    Prothero places the recent U.S. culture wars about gay marriage and abortion in a historical context of past American culture wars. He is careful to qualify his analysis to admit that there are many other factors involved in this events beyond religion and morality, but his does show an ongoing conservative vs. progressive cultural conflict going back to colonial times. His thesis is that while conservatives often win short term victories, in the...
  • Tom Rowe
    Meh. This started out very interesting examining the religious aspects of the election of 1800, moving on to the persecution and riots against Catholics in the mid-1800s, and then the prejudice against Mormons. After that, it went on to talk about prohibition, and I didn't find the argument quite as convincing. Finally, it ended with today's culture wars which I'm just tired of because: Facebook. So if you think the world is ending because Trump ...
  • Andrew Willis
    It would probably be more appropriate to title the book, "How Conservatives Lose Culture Wars." For example, the battles of the modern era such as gay marriage and abortion he simply talks about the conservative response as if these subjects had a long cherished history in the nation and conservatives suddenly took a turn on them. I was hoping to discover how the liberal side had successfully pushed their issues. However, the book was focused on ...
  • Rosalie
    Informative, insightful, compassionate and timely, an altogether excellent read.
  • JaNel
    Very insightful, illuminating, and a good analysis of history and our modern situation. Do not skip the introduction. I especially liked chapters 1 and 5, but those in between introduce ideas he ties together later.p. 17 "Cultural wars" are started by conservatives--who "typically choose for their rallying cries causes that are already on the verge of being lost."p. 16 " fight to restore their beloved past (real or imagined)". Then that idea is e...
  • Amy
    Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections) is history of the conservative tradition of trying to keep the past and the liberal tradition of continually dragging society into a more inclusive future. According to Prothero, this happens mostly because society is always changing, and conservatives tend to only panic about it when the past they remember though rose-colored goggles is pretty much gone (a tendency to fight for lo...
  • Chris
    This book has an interesting and compelling premise, that the culture wars we experience today are not unique to modern America and that liberal ideals of pluralism and diversity ultimately win out over the conservative resistance to pluralism and diversity. It seems that Prothero makes his case, but I felt that the case studies selected were somewhat limited. He chose five examples: the Federalists (conservatives) vs the Democratic-Republicans (...
  • CarolynKost
    Having read this book when it was first published, I found myself referring to its thesis often and decided to revisit it with a thorough re-read. I'm glad I did. Prothero, a professor of Religious Studies at BU asserts that since its inception the US has always been both a Christian and a secular country, a fact that make culture wars inevitable. Primarily, he cites the inclusion of religious diversions from Protestantism (Jeffersonian beliefs, ...
  • Book
    Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): A History of the Religious Battles That Define America from Jefferson’s Heresies to Gay Marriage Today by Stephen Prothero“Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars" is a very interesting book that seeks to make sense of American culture wars. New York Times bestselling author and chair of the religion department at Boston University, Stephen Prothero takes the reader on a journey tha...
  • Book
    Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): A History of the Religious Battles That Define America from Jefferson’s Heresies to Gay Marriage Today by Stephen Prothero“Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars" is a very interesting book that seeks to make sense of American culture wars. New York Times bestselling author and chair of the religion department at Boston University, Stephen Prothero takes the reader on a journey tha...
  • FM
    I love reading about American history and there were stories in this book that were fascinating and certainly enlightening. I'm glad I read this book and I found much that resonated with me, but for two things:1. I am not completely convinced of the author's definition of "liberal" which seemed quite elastic, and 2. I really hate the title of this book, which seems to me to be quite off-putting (and I consider myself a liberal). I can think of so...
  • Gwen
    This was an interesting overview of various "culture wars", but I don't think the author actually answered the question of why liberals win. His main thesis seemed to be that by the time there's conservative outrage and people start yelling about culture war, the liberal progress is already unstoppable, which was interesting and encouraging, but takes the conclusion as a premise. "Why do Liberals win culture wars?""Because by the time there's a c...
  • Matt
    Interesting take. I disagree with his premise that prohibition was a conservative mediated policy. It was led by Democrats, abolitionists, women's suffrage voters, and other groups I would hardly consider conservative. I realize it's hard to stomach the idea that Democrats might have brought us one of the most disagreeable movements of the 20th century, buts its true nonetheless. He's going to have to claim that. And in the end Prohibition was su...
  • Dave Lester
    As if that title is not a mouthful. Upon finishing Boston College Professor Stephen Prothero's "Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars", a huge part of me wondered how he would have written this book if it had come out after the election of Donald Trump in November 2016 as opposed to the book being released in January 2016.That being said, this still is a fascinating read as Prothero goes back to the disputes between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams ar...
  • Garth Slater
    I personally enjoyed this book. I try to keep an open mind and educate myself in different philosophies and principles. I thought this was extremely well written. The topics and categories discussed are not easy and all are politically charged. Thank goodness we live in a country where we can share opposing positions. I think some of the conclusions drawn were off target and I found myself confused from time to time on the authors points.
  • Bailey
    This is a very interesting book to read. It reminds me a lot of the MLK quote, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice" There were definitely things in this book that I didn't know like the culture around Mormons and prohibition. I liked the take that the culture wars of the 80's started with school segregation. And just how political commentators turn school desegregation into a religious issue rather than a racial is...
  • Mark Johnson
    As a reformed culture warrior, this one was simultaneously encouraging and discouraging.It was encouraging to see that, as bad as they seem (or are), many of today's bitter, mean-spirited struggles over ideology are in no way new--even in the relatively short history of the US. It was encouraging to see positive examples of historic "out" groups eventually being embraced (Catholics, Mormons, Irish, Italians, etc.).It was discouraging to see that ...
  • Christine Deriso
    Granted, I'm late to the party (political pun unintended), but I'm really glad I read this book now rather than when it was first published. What a relief it is to get some historical perspective about our hyper-polarized, scorched-earth state of affairs. This book--fascinating from start to finish--offers hope that if the foot soldiers of other seemingly intractable culture wars finally managed to stagger to victory, perhaps our present-day insa...
  • Ryan
    Great scope of analysis here and Prothero makes a compelling case for his relatively novel thesis. This was a quick and clear read and represents a really thoughtful contribution to understanding US politics- even from a Historian. On that count, though, there were a number of elements (especially with the more recent parts of the text) that ignored important elements from Political Science and Sociology. I'll be teaching parts of this book in th...
  • Christina
    I really wanted to like this more. But it wasn't until the last 2 chapters that it got interesting (and current and relevant). I'm not sure that it really needed the in-depth historical review of 4 previous American "culture wars" to make its point. Which, honestly, is included in the jacket-flap summary, so one could totally save 8 weeks of reading time and just read the summary and the concluding chapter.
  • Eugenea Pollock
    This really puts today’s culture wars in historical context and creates some breathing space for those who are fearful of the direction in which the country seems to be going. Everyone should read it, in my opinion. The only criticism I have is that it was written just a bit too soon, on just the cusp of the Trump takeover.
  • Peter Perry
    Heavy review of American history but with an intriguing search for common threads in the culture wars that raged in each period. Sometimes the narrative slogged a bit, I go, but I learned some things. And in the end, the author's call for civility and acceptance was a breath of fresh air in our divided times.