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New York TimesAmusing, caustic, and cleverly written.
— Herbert Mitgang
As the Reagan administration began, Nancy Reagan chose new china for the White House—at a cost of $209,508. The pattern for the decade was struck. As the Reagans made wealth seem glamorous, what followed was a culture dominated by a belief in the “magic of the marketplace.” Money words became the key language for the eighties, and they signaled a culture with an insatiable need to proclaim its triumphs. In the wake of the Reagan years, fifteen brilliant essayists survey the kind of culture created by Reagan politics and Reagan ideology. From architecture to the yuppie ascendancy, including politics, film, art, literature, finance, fashion, religion, and civil rights, eighties’ culture is explored with telling analysis and penetrating wit. When most of these essays first appeared in Dissent magazine, the Village Voice called them a “must read.” We are not likely to get a sharper appraisal of our contemporary culture than this. The contributors are William Adams, Laura Bergheim, Mark Caldwell, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Todd Gitlin, Josephine Hendin, Hendrik Hertzberg, Irving Howe, Ross Miller, Nicolaus Mills, Robert Reich, Herman Schwartz, Debora Silverman, Alessandra Stanley, and Sean Wilentz.
Part 1 The Culture of Triumph and the Spirit of the Times 11 Part 2 Blips, Bites and Savvy Talk 29 Part 3 Putting on the Glitz: Architecture After Postmodernism 47 Part 4 The Short Happy Life of the American Yuppie 66 Part 5 Pluggies 83 Part 6 A Culture of Paper Tigers 95 Part 7 Blackness Without Blood 109 Part 8 Civil Rights and the Reagan Court 130 Part 9 The Trials of Televangelism 142 Part 10 Vietnam Screen Wars 156 Part 11 China, Bloomie's and the Met 175 Part 12 The Literature of AIDS 201 Part 13 Fictions of Acquisition 216 Part 14 The End of the Common Reader 234 Part 15 Presidency by Ralph Lauren: Closing the Decade in Style 246