Perlstein, Rick 1969-

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PERLSTEIN, Rick 1969-

PERSONAL: Born 1969, in WI.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 19 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003.

CAREER: Journalist.

AWARDS, HONORS: National Endowment for the Humanities grant; Village Voice Writer on the Verge, 2000; notable book selections, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Post, all for Before the Storm.


Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmasking of the American Consensus, Hill and Wang (New York, NY, 2001.

Contributor to periodicals, including New York Observer, New York Times, and Nation.

SIDELIGHTS: Rick Perlstein writes for the New York Observer, New York Times, and the Nation. He was born in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, grew up in the Midwest, and remained in the Midwest for the first twenty-five years of his life.

In an interview in Written Voices, Perlstein credited his Midwestern background with shaping his political and social outlook. He noted, "much of the ideological history of postwar America has to do with regional resentments": Southerners distrusting Northerners, Westerners wary of Easterners, and those in the East regarding the Midwest as a "Great Flyover" unworthy of much attention. When Perlstein moved to New York, he noticed that many New Yorkers could not identify the Midwestern states, but they thought this ignorance was amusing. Perlstein remarked, "It is impossible to understand the development of conservative-versus-liberal politics in America without grasping this long and rich history of cultural disconnection between the different regions."

Perlstein's book Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmasking of the American Consensus tells the story of the rise of conservatism during the overtly liberal 1960s, focusing on Barry Goldwater, a Republican senator from Arizona, as well as William F. Buckley, Nelson Rockefeller, and Bill Moyers. The book had its genesis after the elections of 1994, when Perlstein noticed that the political climate in the United States was shifting toward conservatism. He began researching the book in 1996, and completed it in 1999.

In Harper's Kevin Baker called the book "masterful" and "ambitious," and he praised Perlstein's "copious research" and "fascinating story of political trench warfare." Mark Schmitt wrote in American Prospect that the book "reads like a novel," and that it "conveys a sense of atmosphere, lingo. . . . Dozens of characters, some important and others forgotten, weave in and out of one another's lives and make history." In the Nation, Robert Sherrill commented, "Before the Storm is the story of such a fascinating era, and Perlstein is such a great storyteller . . . for a while you will forget the dreariness of today's politics."

Perlstein told the Written Voices interviewer, "I have a downright lust to understand the process of social change: how do ideas and activities considered bizarre and even dangerous in one era come to be seen as normal and healthy in the next? Puzzling out these kinds of stories is one of the great joys of my life."



American Prospect, July 2, 2001, Mark Schmitt, review of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmasking of the American Consensus, p. 40.

Books and Culture, March, 2002, Lauren F. Winner, review of Before the Storm, p. 30.

Commonweal, May 4, 2001, Kevin Mattson, review of Before the Storm, p. 35.

Economist April 28, 2001, Keith Joseph, review of Before the Storm, p. 1.

Harper's, August, 2001, Kevin Baker, review of Before the Storm, p. 64.

Nation, June 11, 2001, Robert Sherrill, review of Before the Storm, p. 28.

National Review, April 30, 2001, William A. Rusher, review of Before the Storm.

Reason, March, 2002, Glenn Garvin, review of Before the Storm, p. 61.


Written Voices, (September 12, 2002), interview with Perlstein.*