The conservative icon who reshaped American politics and laid the groundwork for the end of the Cold War
In the second half of the twentieth century, no American president defined his political era as did Ronald Reagan. He ushered in an age that extolled smaller government, tax cuts, and strong defense, and to this day politicians of both political parties operate within the parameters of the world he made. His eight years in office from 1981 to 1989 were a time of economic crisis and recovery, a new American assertiveness abroad, and an engagement with the Soviet Union that began in conflict but moved in surprising new directions.
Jacob Weisberg provides a bracing portrait of America's fortieth president and the ideas that animated his political career, offering a fresh psychological interpretation and showing that there was more to Reagan than the usual stereotypes. Reagan, he observes, was a staunch conservative but was also unafraid to compromise and cut deals where necessary. And Reagan espoused a firm belief, just as firm as his belief in small government and strong defense, that nuclear weapons were immoral and ought to be eliminated. Weisberg argues that these facets of Reagan were too often ignored in his time but reveal why his presidency turned out to be so consequential.
In the years since Reagan left office, he has been cast in marble by the Republican Party and dismissed by the Democrats. Weisberg shows why we need to move past these responses if we wish truly to appreciate his accomplishments and his legacy.
About the Author
Jacob Weisberg is chairman and editor-in-chief of The Slate Group and the former editor of Slate magazine. Weisberg is the author of The Bush Tragedy and is the creator of the "Bushisms" book series. He previously worked for The New Republic and was a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and a columnist for the Financial Times. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Editor's Note xv
Introduction: Surrounded by a Wall of Light 1
1 Fact and Fancy 9
2 Sign Before They Change Their Minds 17
3 The Only Voice for Real Liberals 24
4 Living Better Electrically 33
5 I've Never Played a Governor 42
6 Call It Mysticism 52
7 I Paid for That Microphone 57
8 The Present Crisis 67
9 I Think I Made a Friend 80
10 The Ash Heap of History 89
11 They Keep Dying on Me 98
12 Morning Again in America 111
13 Why Wait Until the Year 2000? 119
14 The Facts Tell Me 128
15 Tear Down This Wall 140
Conclusion: That's How I Saw It 147
Selected Bibliography 169