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Publisher's Summary

“The most comprehensive account of the GOP and its competing impulses” (Los Angeles Times), now updated to cover the Trump presidency and its aftermath.

When Abraham Lincoln helped create the Republican Party on the eve of the Civil War, his goal was economic opportunity for all Americans. Yet the party quickly became mired in an identity crisis. Would it be the party of democratic ideals? Or the party of moneyed interests?

In To Make Men Free, acclaimed historian Heather Cox Richardson traces the shifting ideology of the Republican Party from the antebellum era to the Great Recession. While progressive Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower revived Lincoln’s vision and expanded the government, their opponents appealed to Americans’ latent racism and xenophobia to regain political power, linking taxation and regulation to redistribution and socialism. In the modern era, the schism within the Republican Party has grown wider, pulling the GOP ever further from its founding principles.

Now with an epilogue that reflects on the Trump era and what is likely to come after it, To Make Men Free is a sweeping history of the party that was once considered America’s greatest political hope, but now lies in disarray.

©2014 Heather Cox Richardson (P)2021 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved. © 2021 afterword by Heather Cox Richardson.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“A readable and provocative account of the many paths that Republicans have taken to their current state of confusion.” (New York Times Book Review)

“The book offers a lively survey of Republican politics in all its diversity, from the ‘transformational presidency' of Abraham Lincoln (to borrow a 21st-century term) to the conservative ascendancy of Ronald Reagan.” (Washington Post)

“The most comprehensive account of the GOP and its competing impulses...an important contribution to understanding where we are today.” (Los Angeles Times)

What listeners say about To Make Men Free

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A 10 Star Listen or Read.

The author impresses with scholarship, Depth of knowledge, and understanding of the political process. Every American who votes and of course those who don’t should read this book or listen to it. It explains so much about how the Rrepublican party has changed over the last 150 years and how dangerous that change is for for our country.

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Fascinating read!

Heather Cox Richardson is brilliant at presenting detailed, complex, and long-form info in a way that leaves you breathless at the sheer clarity of her presentation. I consider myself a somewhat well-informed person in the area of American history and politics, but have learned far more than I ever knew I didn’t know from her. This audiobook is 15 hours, but I zoomed straight through it and wanted more.

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Not an unbiased history

Author clearly had a left wing preference. Definitely some interesting points made. I’m a moderate who voted for Biden, but there’s clearly an agenda being pushed.

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An insightful look at a political party

Political parties are not the same across time. Policies change and so does leadership. Dr. Heather Cox Richardson dissects the Republican party, beginning with events that led to the formation of the party up through 2021 (via an addendum added then). The discussion of inner-party factions and methods used to gain political power is fascinating. A must-read to learn about party politics, and how methodologies changed with new communication technologies, and the use and abuse of them in order to gain power.

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Great, Great Author. Thank you HCR!!

This author is amazing. Thank you Heather Cox Richardson.

Also read How the South Won the Civil War

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Excellent

Her meticulous progression of the political changes the Republican Party made from Lincoln to present day was very enlightening. Helps to explain much of todays shenanigans the Republicans are pulling.
A must read for anyone interested I. History and politics

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The Author holds our hand along every step!

In my desire to understand the nature of our present times from the elements of our history I can find no better guidebook.

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Excellent Book

Now I better understand the current political environment

the author has done a great job articulating very complex issues.


I will listen to it again.

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Astounding

Once again, Heather Cox Richardson tells a complete story of great importance! The information was breathtaking.

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Great book

This book should be part of the reading list in American history classes. I would love to see a history of the Democratic Party.
I wish I were as hopeful as the author about the future of our democracy. I hope the electorate will change direction within my lifetime. But I am not really expecting it.

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  • Alex
  • 12-09-21

So biased you don't know what's true

This book is clearly sympathetic to one faction of the Republican Party, the one that is critical of big business (as I am) and in favor of more government intervention. The ones who are not are baselessly associated with racism, and are accused of destroying the economy. You come away wondering how America became an economic powerhouse at all, despite being mostly governed by (according to the author) pro-business Republicans.

History is rewritten to fit this narrative, No mention is made of the extensive communist infiltration of the US government in the 1940s and 50s, which Joseph McCarthy used to push exaggerated narratives about everyone and his dog being a communist. So called 'movement conservatives' are parodied as believing that there should be no role for government in bettering people's lives. And yet someone like former president George W. Bush, who drastically increased the role of government in health care in what he called 'compassionate conservatism', is portrayed as an orthodox 'movement conservative' who presumably opposes the New Deal.

It leaves out a lot of facts to paint the desired narrative. The victory of George H. W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election is attributed to a single advertisement, which is called racist despite making no mention of race. The opposition of Barry Goldwater to federal intervention to achieve racial desegregation is highlighted, but it is never mentioned that the reason for this opposition is federalism and not his personal racism - he supported desegregation as state action.

There is a reason I listedned to the end: it was fun to listen to. But the problem is that you have no idea if what the author is telling you, is actually true. Someone looking just for reasons to hate Republicans will probably love this book. Someone looking for the actual truth, not so much, because with some truth there is a great deal of distortion and some plain lies as well.