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Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years, 1976-1980

Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years, 1976-1980


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With a Foreword by Jon Meacham

New York Times bestselling biographer Craig Shirley charts Ronald Reagan’s astonishing rise from the ashes of his lost 1976 presidential bid to overwhelming victory in 1980. American conservatism—and the nation itself—would never be the same.

In 1976, when Ronald Reagan lost his second bid for the GOP presidential nomination (the first was in 1968), most observers believed his political career was over. Yet one year later, at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Reagan sounded like a new man. He introduced conservatives to a "New Republican Party"—one that looked beyond the traditional country club and corporate boardroom base to embrace "the man and woman in the factories . . . the farmer . . . the cop on the beat. Our party," Reagan said, "must be the party of the individual. It must not sell out the individual to cater to the group."

Reagan’s movement quickly spread, championed by emerging conservative leaders and influential think tanks. Meanwhile, for the first time in modern history, Reagan also began drawing young people to American conservatism.

But it was not only the former governor's political philosophy that was changing. A new man was emerging as well: The angry anticommunist was evolving into a more reflective, thoughtful, hopeful, and more spiritual leader. Championing the individual at home, rejecting containment and détente abroad, and advocating for the defeat of Soviet communism, his appeal crossed party lines.

At a time when conservatives are seeking to redefine their identity in light of the Donald Trump phenomenon, Reagan Rising offers insight into the development of Reagan’s optimistic and unifying philosophy, and offers lessons for both established Republican leaders as well as emerging hopefuls.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062456557
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/21/2017
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 704,637
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Craig Shirley is the author of Reagan Rising, Rendezvous with Destiny, Reagan’s Revolution, Last Act and the New York Times bestseller December 1941. He is a regular commentator throughout the media and a contributor to national publications, and was hailed by the London Telegraph as “the best of the Reagan biographers.” He is the Visiting Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Reagan’s alma mater, and lectures often at the Reagan Library and the Reagan Ranch. He and his wife, Zorine, divide their time between Ben Lomond, a three-hundred-year-old Georgian manor house in Essex County, Virginia, and Trickle Down Point on the Rappahannock River in Lancaster, Virginia. They are the parents of four children, Matthew, Andrew, Taylor, and Mitchell.

JON MEACHAM received the Pulitzer Prize for his 2008 biography of Andrew Jackson, American Lion. He is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George H.W. Bush, American Gospel, and Franklin and Winston. Meacham, who teaches at Vanderbilt University, is a fellow of the Society of American Historians. He lives in Nashville with his wife and children.

Table of Contents

Foreword Jon Meacham xi

Preface xv

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 All by Himself 5

Chapter 2 While We Were Marching Through Georgetown 21

Chapter 3 Into the Wilderness 33

Chapter 4 The Bear in the Room 52

Chapter 5 Canal Zone Defense 77

Chapter 6 Drinking the Kool-Aid 102

Chapter 7 Reagan on Ice 141

Chapter 8 Bread and Circuses 167

Chapter 9 Up from Carterism 194

Chapter 10 "Big John" Versus 'Poppy" 232

Chapter 11 Georgia Versus Georgetown 251

Chapter 12 Adrift 272

Chapter 13 Iowa Agonistes 287

Chapter 14 Reagan's Dunkirk 300

Chapter 15 Sunshine Reaganites 308

Chapter 16 The Politics of Politics 313

Chapter 17 Island of Freedom 325

Author's Note 330

Acknowledgments 333

Notes 335

Bibliography 381

Index 391

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