In The Age of Reagan, the first of two volumes, Ashbrook Adjunct Fellow Steven F. Hayward brings to life the tumultuous decade-and-a-half that preceded Ronald Reagan’s ascent to the White House. Based on scores of interviews and years of research, the book is an engrossing journey through the most politically divisive years the United States has had to endure since the decade before the Civil War. Overseas, we were embroiled in a war we couldn’t win; at home, our streets had become battlefields; and in Washington, the old liberal order was collasping under the weight of failed policies. Meanwhile, from out of the West arose a new conservative movement led by Ronald Reagan, a one-time Hollywood actor whose speech in 1964 in support of the doomed candidacy of Barry Goldwater not only electrified a national television audience but also created a political star.
With meticulous detail, Hayward captures an America at war with itself—an era that changed the world. He brings new insight into the profound failure of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the oddly liberal nature of Richard Nixon’s administration, the significance of Reagan’s years as California’s governor and the sudden-death drama of his near defeat of Gerald Ford in the 1976 Republican primary, the listlessness of Jimmy Carter’s leadership, and the policial earthquake that was Reagan’s victorious presidential campaign in 1980.
A senior fellow and director at the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco, Hayward vividly captures an era when America was ideologically at war with itself—and how Reagan and the conservative movement emerged to rekindle the American spirit. In the footsteps of Arthur M. Schlesinger’s The Age of Roosevelt comes the definitive history of America’s most turbulent years since the Civil War.
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