Feature Stories

Politics & Polls #55: Has the Conservative Revolution Succeeded? A Conversation with Nancy MacLean

Aug 10, 2017
By:
Woodrow Wilson School

Joining today’s episode is Nancy MacLean, an award-winning scholar of the twentieth-century United States, whose new book, “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,” has been described by Publishers Weekly as “a thoroughly researched and gripping narrative… [and] a feat of American intellectual and political history.” Booklist called it “perhaps the best explanation to date of the roots of the political divide that threatens to irrevocably alter American government.”

MacLean discusses her book with Professors Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang, as well as the widely publicized controversial debates that have surrounded its publication. MacLean responds to some of her critics in an illuminating conversation.

The author of four other books, including “Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace” (2006) called by the Chicago Tribune "contemporary history at its best,” and “Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan,” named a New York Times "noteworthy" book of 1994, MacLean is the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University.

Her articles and review essays have appeared in American Quarterly, The Boston Review, Feminist Studies, Gender & History, In These Times, International Labor and Working Class History, Labor, Labor History, Journal of American History, Journal of Women’s History, Law and History Review, The Nation, the OAH Magazine of History and many edited collections.

MacLean’s scholarship has received more than a dozen prizes and awards and been supported by fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the Russell Sage Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowships Foundation. In 2010, she was elected a fellow of the Society of American Historians, which recognizes literary distinction in the writing of history and biography. Also an award-winning teacher and committed graduate student mentor, she offers courses on post-1945 America, social movements, and public policy history. 

ABOUT THE HOSTS

Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 
Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the author of several books including, most recently, "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society." Zelizer is a frequent commentator in the international and national media on political history and contemporary politics. He has published more than 600 hundred op-eds, including his weekly column on CNN.com.

Wang is professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is known for his books "Welcome to Your Brain" and "Welcome to Your Child's Brain" and for his founding role at the Princeton Election Consortium, a blog providing U.S. election analyses. In 2004, Wang was one of the first to aggregate U.S. presidential polls using probabilistic methods. He has also developed new statistical standards for partisan gerrymandering. A neuroscientist, Wang's academic research focuses on the neuroscience of learning, the cerebellum.