Kevin M.  Kruse-Fault Lines: History of the United States Since 1974

Kevin M. Kruse

Bio

Kevin M. Kruse is a Professor of History at Princeton University. He specializes in the political, social, and urban/suburban history of twentieth-century America, with a particular interest in conflicts over race, rights and religion, and the making of modern conservatism. In addition to Fault Lines, he is the author of White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism and One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, as well as co-editor of three collections. He is now at work on The Division: John Doar, the Justice Department and the Civil Rights Movement.

Hear Kevin M. Kruse at multiple DBF 2019 sessions:
Sunday, Sep 1 at 1:15PM
Southern Conservatism and Its Impact on Today’s Politics
Sunday, Sep 1 at 3:45PM

Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974

Sessions

Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974

If you were asked when America became polarized, your answer would likely depend on your age: you might say during Barack Obama’s presidency, or with the post-9/11 war on terror, or the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s, or the “Reagan Revolution” and the the rise of the New Right. For leading historians Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer, it all starts in 1974. In that one year, the nation was rocked by one major event after another: The Watergate crisis and the departure of President Richard Nixon, the first and only U.S. President to resign; the winding down of the Vietnam War and rising doubts about America’s military might; the fallout from the OPEC oil embargo that paralyzed America with the greatest energy crisis in its history; and the desegregation busing riots in South Boston that showed a horrified nation that our efforts to end institutional racism were failing. In the years that followed, the story of our own lifetimes would be written. Longstanding historical fault lines over income inequality, racial division, and a revolution in gender roles and sexual norms would deepen and fuel a polarized political landscape. In Fault Lines, Kruse and Zelizer reveal how the divisions of the present day began almost five decades ago, and how they were widened thanks to profound changes in our political system as well as a fracturing media landscape that was repeatedly transformed with the rise of cable TV, the internet, and social media. How did the United States become so divided? Fault Lines offers a richly told, wide-angle history view toward an answer.

Moderator: Chris Martin

Chris Martin is a post-doctoral researcher and instructor at Georgia Tech, where he teaches an undergraduate course on the science and philosophy of happiness. He received his doctorate in sociology from Emory University. He is a co-founder of Heterodox Academy, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting viewpoint diversity and constructive disagreement in higher education. He hosts its podcast Half Hour of Heterodoxy, which features interviews with social scientists, historians, and journalists.

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Fault Lines: History of the United States Since 1974

If you were asked when America became polarized, your answer would likely depend on your age: you might say during Barack Obama’s presidency, or with the post-9/11 war on terror, or the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s, or the “Reagan Revolution” and the the rise of the New Right. For leading historians Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer, it all starts in 1974. In that one year, the nation was rocked by one major event after another: The Watergate crisis and the departure of President Richard Nixon, the first and only U.S. President to resign; the winding down of the Vietnam War and rising doubts about America’s military might; the fallout from the OPEC oil embargo that paralyzed America with the greatest energy crisis in its history; and the desegregation busing riots in South Boston that showed a horrified nation that our efforts to end institutional racism were failing. In the years that followed, the story of our own lifetimes would be written. Longstanding historical fault lines over income inequality, racial division, and a revolution in gender roles and sexual norms would deepen and fuel a polarized political landscape. In Fault Lines, Kruse and Zelizer reveal how the divisions of the present day began almost five decades ago, and how they were widened thanks to profound changes in our political system as well as a fracturing media landscape that was repeatedly transformed with the rise of cable TV, the internet, and social media. How did the United States become so divided? Fault Lines offers a richly told, wide-angle history view toward an answer. BUY THIS BOOK!

During the civil rights era, Atlanta thought of itself as “The City Too Busy to Hate,” a rare place in the South where the races lived and thrived together. Over the course of the 1960s and 1970s, however, so many whites fled the city for the suburbs that Atlanta earned a new nickname: “The City Too Busy Moving to Hate.” In this reappraisal of racial politics in modern America, Kevin Kruse explains the causes and consequences of “white flight” in Atlanta and elsewhere. Seeking to understand segregationists on their own terms, White Flight moves past simple stereotypes to explore the meaning of white resistance. In the end, Kruse finds that segregationist resistance, which failed to stop the civil rights movement, nevertheless managed to preserve the world of segregation and even perfect it in subtler and stronger forms. Challenging the conventional wisdom that white flight meant nothing more than a literal movement of whites to the suburbs, this book argues that it represented a more important transformation in the political ideology of those involved. In a provocative revision of postwar American history, Kruse demonstrates that traditional elements of modern conservatism, such as hostility to the federal government and faith in free enterprise, underwent important transformations during the postwar struggle over segregation. Likewise, white resistance gave birth to several new conservative causes, like the tax revolt, tuition vouchers, and privatization of public services. Tracing the journey of southern conservatives from white supremacy to white suburbia, Kruse locates the origins of modern American politics.

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