The Conscience of a Conservative

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The Conscience of a Conservative
The Conscience of a Conservative (1960), by Barry Goldwater.jpg
Cover of the first edition
AuthorBarry Goldwater (nominal)
SubjectPolitics, American conservatism
PublisherVictor Publishing Co. [name used by Frank E. Simon, manager of the real publisher, viz., Publishers Printing Company, Shepardsville, Ky]
Publication date
Media typePrint

The Conscience of a Conservative is a 1960 book published under the name of Arizona Senator and 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. It reignited the American conservative movement, made Goldwater a political star, and has influenced countless conservatives in the United States, helping to lay the foundation for the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s.[1]

The book was ghostwritten by L. Brent Bozell Jr., brother-in-law of William F. Buckley Jr..[1] Bozell and Buckley had been members of Yale's debate team. They had co-authored the controversial book, McCarthy and His Enemies, in 1955. Bozell had been Goldwater's speechwriter in the 1950s, and was familiar with many of his ideals.


The 123-page book covers such topics as education, labor unions and policies, civil rights, agricultural policy and farm subsidies, social welfare programs, and income taxation. The book is considered to be a significant statement of politically and economically American conservative ideas which were to gain influence during the following decades.[1]

In his book, Goldwater states explicitly that there are "laws of God" and "truths of God" which inform his concept of 'conservatism' and under which the US should operate (ref).

Namesake books[edit]

The book, and its pithy title, continue to inspire contemporary political commentary.

  • In 2007, Paul Krugman entitled his own book The Conscience of a Liberal, saying in the introduction that he wanted his work to stand as a counterpoint to Goldwater's.[2]
  • Zell Miller (2003), A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat
  • Wayne Allyn Root (2009), The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizen Revolution with God, Guns, Gambling & Tax Cuts.
  • Gary Chartier (2011), The Conscience of an Anarchist: Why It's Time to Say Good-Bye to the State and Build a Free Society
  • Jeff Flake (2017), Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle

Later editions[edit]

A half-century edition, edited by C.C. Goldwater (his granddaughter), with a foreword by George Will, and an afterword by Robert F. Kennedy Jr, was published by the Princeton University Press in 2007.


  1. ^ a b c Frohnen, Bruce (2006). American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington: Intercollegiate Studies Institute. pp. 179–80. ISBN 1-932236-43-0.
  2. ^ Krugman, Paul (2007). The Conscience of a Liberal. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-06069-1.