Sean Wilentz

Sean Wilentz teaches history at Princeton and is the author of Bob Dylan in America, which Doubleday will publish later this year.

Recent Articles

Discovering Tocqueville

Tocqueville didn't get everything right about Americans, but understanding him as a real, flawed observer makes his achievement more impressive.

(Musee du Chateau de Versailles/Gianni Dagli Orti/The Art Archive)

Tocqueville's Discovery of Americaby Leo Damrosch, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 304 pages, $27.00

Close of an Era

Several new books on the rise and fall of conservatism look at the secrets of the movement's decades-old success -- and modern-day failures.

The Conservative Ascendancy: How the GOP Right Made Political History by Donald T. Critchlow, Harvard University Press, 359 pages, $27.95

Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again by David Frum, Doubleday, 213 pages, $24.95

Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, Doubleday, 256 pages, $23.95

Among the Bear-Baiters

I'm writing this while enjoying one of the most satisfying moments of my day, one of the most satisfying moments known to humanity. It's morning. I prefer to take a sip, even two, from my favorite old oversized coffee cup, with a glazed blue-checker band, before firing up. My lighter has been acting up lately, but the pack of Winstons is nearly full -- and, hooray, the flame doesn't sputter as it did last night. The deep pull, after hours of sleeping abstinence, is ambrosial. The large box of Nicorette, planted on the desk corner at New Year's, doesn't have a chance, not today.

Build an "A" Team

My advice, President Kerry, is that you assemble a political "A" team, install it in the West Wing, and fight like hell against the right over the next four years.

"We ought to have two real parties," President Franklin Delano Roosevelt told speechwriter and adviser Sam Rosenman in 1942, "one liberal and the other conservative." Now we have two parties. Less like the blue and the red than like the blue and the gray. You won the election by realizing this and defeating the GOP attack machine.

Boomerang Effect

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to stay the California recall election makes clear as never before that the entire effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis can only be understood in light of the Florida recount struggle of 2000 -- and of the larger efforts by the Republican Party to undermine democracy in order to seize and control power.