Book Reviews

Book Review: After the Hangover: the Conservatives’ Road to Recovery

The Conservative movement in America curiously finds itself in the spotlight again. After the May’s primaries, several career politicians are finding themselves with nothing to do after January 2011. Prior to that, the state of Massachusetts, long considered a Democrat stronghold, elected a Republican senator to fill the vacant seat of the late Ted Kennedy. People are talking. Questions are being asked. Television and radio news agencies are buzzing. Life seems to be flowing in the veins of the conservative movement again. Life some might attribute to the caffeine from the Tea Party.

Maybe it’s simpler than that. Maybe Conservatism in America is following a pattern or redeveloping, evolving. Since its shaping in the mid-twentieth century, the movement has had its ups and downs. In 1994 the Republicans took control of Congress, but lost it again in 2006. A Conservative sat in The Oval Office for five out of seven terms between 1981 and 2009. But since election night 2008, connecting the Democratic presidential victory with its congressional victor two years prior, political pundits cry the end of conservatism on the horizon. Enter this book by R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr: After the Hangover: the Conservatives’ Road to Recovery.

Tyrrell jumps right in by denouncing modern day Liberals as existing and operating far from the historical roots of the term. He then moves into a treatise on the history of conservatism from the Reagan years to the present. He talks about some basic propositions about conservatism that hold it back from achieving more than it has.

Throughout the book the author turns out to be more and more of a chronic soapboxer, quoting previous soapbox works, and even going as far as to complain about a term he “coined” as being used prolificly without attribution. In these times, there is a lot of insightful information and background facts that appear regularly, and coupled with the author’s wit and humor, keep the reader engaged, though eagerly awaiting something more insightful. Often the first and last five pages of each chapter will suffice in getting the author’s point.

Generally the book is a good read for the political junkie or intellectual. The greater portion of Thomas Nelson’s readers wouldn’t make it through the introduction. I am glad to have read the book, feeling educated and better acquainted with the finer details, history, problems and outlook for the movement.

* A review copy of this book provided free by Thomas Nelson. Want to blog for books? Check out