A once-over-lightly briefing on the individuals and principles that have made the Republican Party a force to be reckoned with in US politics since it first backed a presidential candidate (John C. Frâ€šmont) in 1856. Focusing on the men who campaigned successfully or not for the White House and, to a lesser extent, their opponents, Rutland (The Democrats, 1979, etc.) touches, without dwelling on, the high points of American history over the past 140 years. Starting with the formation of the Grand Old Party by erstwhile Whigs opposed to the spread of slavery into the young country's western territories, he calls the roll of GOP luminaries and alsorans. Their ranks encompass the oddly coupled likes of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Wendell Willkie, Thomas Dewey, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and George Bush. In an apparent effort to give his episodic text some continuity, the author (a historian at the University of Tulsa) speculates in no great depth on myopic forgiveness as a perdurable fixture of Republican politics, one that in time softened harsh memories of Ulysses S. Grant, Warren G. Harding, Ronald Reagan, and even Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon. While he also attempts to track the great issues that have united and divided Republicans, Rutland paints with too broad a brush. In consequence, the serviceable, fast-moving text is longer on stereotypical epithets (anticommunist, isolationist, pro--Big Business, et al.) than illuminating perspectives. History in a hurry.