When President George W. Bush nominated Linda Chavez to be Secretary of Labor in January 2001, most political observers saw it as a nod to the right. Chavez had made her reputation taking on the civil rights establishment, the feminist movement, and the multiculturalists. What few people knew was that this hard-nosed conservative began her career among socialists and labor-union officials, teaching in college affirmative-action programs and writing political propaganda for the Democratic National Committee. In An Unlikely Conservative, Chavez recounts her political journey from the Young People’s Socialist League to the Reagan wing of the Republican Party-and the sometimes shocking personal experiences that shaped her views. From excrement-smeared car seats to threats of attacks with bombs and switchblades, she learned quickly that opposing racial quotas and ethnic studies carried a high personal cost. But at its core, hers is the story of a working-class Hispanic girl who overcomes a difficult and painful childhood to become one of America’s most prominent political conservatives.

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