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Mason, Robert 1970-

Mason, Robert 1970-

PERSONAL:

Born 1970. Education: Oxford University, B.A. (with honors), 1992, D.Phil., 1998.

ADDRESSES:

Office—School of History, Classics and Archaeology, William Robertson Bldg., University of Edinburgh, 50 George Sq., Edinburgh EH8 9JY, Scotland. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, lecturer, 1998-2007, senior lecturer in history, 2007—. Fellow, John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress, 2004-05; fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

WRITINGS:

Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS:

Robert Mason's area of expertise is the history of the Republican party in America from the 1920s through the end of the twentieth century. A doctoral graduate of Oxford University, Mason is particularly interested in the creation and consolidation of the conservative wing of the Republican party and in Richard Nixon's role in that process. Mason's book Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority serves as part of a larger study of Republican politics and the conservative movement that found its champion not in Nixon but in Ronald Reagan, who achieved the presidency in 1981. Mason draws this conclusion in Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority, but not before delivering a close examination of Nixon's successes and failures to build party consensus and majority electoral support during his service as president from 1969 until 1974.

Richard Nixon was elected president by a narrow margin in 1968, largely on the strength of voters he called the "silent majority." Faced with opposition from a Democratic Congress and the calls for social justice and an end to the Vietnam War, Nixon failed to win widespread support for the Republican party as a whole during his first term. When he ran for re-election, he faced an extremely liberal opponent, George McGovern. Nixon won the 1972 election by a landslide. Some scholars point to this moment as the triumph of conservative Republicanism in American politics. Mason does not agree. In Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority, Mason demonstrates that Nixon actually eroded the conservative movement through his own selfish pursuit of power, through a social agenda that resembled Democratic ideals more than Republican ideals, and, ultimately, through his resignation in the wake of the Watergate burglary. Mason feels that the Watergate scandal disrupted conservative momentum but did not stop it; ultimately, Ronald Reagan ascended as the leader of a massive conservative realignment.

"Rarely discussed on its own, a study of Nixon's attempt to incorporate a conservative coalition between 1968 and 1972 is long overdue," wrote Jonathan M. Schoenwald in the Historian. Library Journal correspondent Karl Helicher deemed the book "a well-researched scholarly appraisal" of Nixon's role in shaping Republican politics during the Vietnam era. In a separate review for Foreword Magazine, Helicher concluded that Mason "makes a strong case in this investigation—which will appeal greatly to political scholars—that Nixon received credit for a political realignment that he … didn't create."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, February, 2006, Michael A. Genovese, review of Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority, p. 234.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May, 2005, A.L. Crothers, review of Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority, p. 1671.

Historian, spring, 2006, Jonathan M. Schoenwald, review of Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority, p. 149.

Journal of American History, December, 2005, David Greenberg, review of Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority, p. 1068.

Library Journal, October 15, 2004, Karl Helicher, review of Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority, p. 74.

ONLINE

Foreword Magazine,http://www.forewordmagazine.com/reviews/ (March 22, 2008), Karl Helicher, review of Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority.

H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.edu/ (May 23, 2008), Dominic Sandbrook, review of Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority.

University of Edinburgh Web Site,http://www.shca.ed.ac.uk/ (March 22, 2008), author biography.

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