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American Politics in the Postwar Sunbelt
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Book description

This book analyzes the political culture of the American Sunbelt since the end of World War II. It highlights and explains the Sunbelt's emergence during the second half of the twentieth century as the undisputed geographic epicentre for conservative Republican power in the United States. However, the book also investigates the ongoing nature of political contestation within the postwar Sunbelt, often highlighting the underappreciated persistence of liberal and progressive influences across the region. Sean P. Cunningham argues that the conservative Republican ascendancy that so many have identified as almost synonymous with the rise of the postwar American Sunbelt was hardly an easy, unobstructed victory march. Rather, it was consistently challenged and never preordained. The history of American politics in the postwar Sunbelt resembles a roller-coaster of partisan and ideological adaptation and transformation.


'For forty-some years, pundits and scholars have portrayed the Sunbelt as a free-market haven for strip malls, megachurches and metropolitan sprawl - and the bastion of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan conservatism. With great breadth and care, Sean Cunningham tracks the long history of this region’s rightward drift and its pivotal role in reddening American political culture. Yet with great creativity and innovation, he also depicts the Sunbelt in refreshingly textured terms as a place of remarkable diversity, adaptation, contestation, and ceaseless transformation. Nuanced and engaging, Cunningham’s beautifully crafted text offers an invaluable glimpse at how this trendsetting region has evolved in the past generation, and where it (and hence the nation) is headed in the next.'

Darren Dochuk - Washington University in St Louis, author of From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism

'Sean Cunningham has produced a lively, comprehensive, and textured synthesis on the history of the American Sunbelt that masterfully integrates the past two decades of burgeoning scholarship. With layers of movement, institutional, social, electoral, and economic history organized in a tight chronology, Cunningham makes the region legible to a wide audience. American Politics in the Postwar Sunbelt is a valuable resource for teaching undergraduates the history of the region and the post–World War II era.'

Michelle Nickerson - Loyola University Chicago

'Sean Cunningham has written what has long been needed - an astute analysis of the politics of the Sunbelt. Seeing the region in all its variations and permutations, Cunningham’s insightful analysis of the growth of conservatism in the Sunbelt provides historians and the casual reader with an elegantly written study of how political culture developed in the post-World War II West and South. A first-rate political history.'

Gregory L. Schneider - Emporia State University

'Sean Cunningham offers a compelling overview of Sunbelt politics since World War II. He persuasively demonstrates that although the Sunbelt became the base of the contemporary Republican Party, its political history is more contested and ambiguous than is often thought. Cunningham’s analysis connecting political and policy outcomes to economic and demographic transitions, as well as his account of how federal money helped shape the region’s development, are especially insightful.'

Timothy N. Thurber - Virginia Commonwealth University

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