Dionne brings some notable qualities to telling this story: E. J. the Brookings scholar knows the academic literature inside out while E. J. the journalist is on first-name terms with many leading conservatives. Dionne is notably fair-minded. Though he makes no bones about his own liberal sympathies, he tries hard to understand the frustrations of white working-class voters who have seen their living standards stagnate and their cultural values ridiculed. Unfortunately, the one quality that he does not bring is discipline; his book is much too long and frequently disorganized.
Dionne is right that America needs an intelligent conservative party, and the insights of this decent man who, as an award-winning journalist for The Washington Post, has unique access to politicians make wonderful reading. But his attempt to find common ground with establishment Republican leaders means he overlooks the elephant in the room: that it was the Republicans’ own narrative that created today’s crisis.
Dionne's expertise is evident in this finely crafted and convincing work. He appears to have read nearly everything about the subject, including a bounty of conservative writers such as Ramesh Ponnuru and David Frum, and interviewed Republican insiders in preparing what amounts to a lamentation of the GOP's trajectory over the past half-century.