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Reckoning with Reagan: America and Its President in the 1980s [Paperback]

Michael Schaller
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 4, 1994 0195090497 978-0195090499
At the height of Ronald Reagan's popularity in July 1986, Time magazine wrote glowingly of how he had "found America's sweet spot." Reagan seemed a "magician who carries a bright, ideal America like a holograph in his mind and projects its image in the air." Not since the rhapsody about "Camelot" that surrounded John F. Kennedy in the wake of his assassination had a president been spoken of so reverently. Reagan pledged to bring Americans a "little good news" and during the next eight years, through recession and recovery, cold war and detente, success and scandal Reagan forged a powerful bond with the public. His popularity appeared so unrelated to actual achievements and so undiminished by failure that Colorado Representative Pat Schroeder dubbed him the "Teflon president." Providing a brief but comprehensive and non-polemical overview of what exactly took place during the Reagan years, Michael Schaller presents a lively account of the Reagan presidency, weighing the president's great personal and political popularity against the effects of his economic, social, diplomatic, and strategic decisions.
Much more than an account of Reagan the man, Schaller offers us a fascinating evaluation of the Reagan phenomenon, providing an accessible introduction for Americans struggling to understand the illusory and actual impact of the Reagan administration on the 1980s and on years to come.

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Editorial Reviews


"An excellent survey of the Reagan years that will spark class discussion in a constructive way."--Professor Lewis L. Gould, University of Texas at Austin

"A wonderful tour through the 80's. Sometimes it makes you laugh, sometimes it makes you cry, more often it does both, even while providing insights into Reagan and how we got into such messes as the SandL scandal and Iran-Contra. 'Government is the problem,' said candidate Reagan. President Reagan proved it to be true. Highly recommended."--Stephen E. Ambrose, Director of the Eisenhower Center, University of New Orleans

"A powerful analysis, making sense of our recent past. Schaller explains Reagan's popularity in the 1980's as well as the ways his very real appeal trivialized American politics. The book is both comprehensive and comprehensible. Readers will be able to understand such complex and baffling episodes as the Iran-contra affair and the savings and loan debacle. Best of all, Schaller explains how the warm glow of the Reagan years came from illusion and provoked the unhappiness that followed."--Robert D. Schulzinger, University of Colorado at Boulder

"A clear and concise commentary on the Reagan administration."--Wilson J. Warren, Ph.D., Valley City State University

About the Author

Michael Schaller is Professor of History at the University of Arizona. He is the author of a number of books, including Douglas MacArthur: The Far Eastern General, The American Occupation of Japan: The Origins of the Cold War in Asia, and The United States and China in the Twentieth Century.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 4, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195090497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195090499
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,160,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Schaller gives us a well-researched, straightforward, and highly readable book on what went right and wrong in the 1980's. Highlighting such bright spots as the sucess of detente while at the same time addressing some of the darker aspects of the '80s (e.g. the rise in income inequality, S&L Crisis, the US as a debtor nation) Schaller's book is probably the best starting point in understanding the causes of Reagan's ascension and the consequences of his polices. His obserbvation that the 80's were an era when Americans "suspended disbelief" is well taken. Schaller makes clear that Reagan did have some solid achievements while at the the same time his "Teflon" quality left him unjustifiably untainted by a number of scandals. Reagan emerges "tall in the saddle" as the Cold War nears its end, but not nearly as tall as some Reagan apologists would lead you to believe. The overall picture on of Reagan's foreign policy is favorable. In the area of domestic policy Schaller is much more negative towards Reagan. Not surprsingly, Schaller saves his hatchet work not for his evaluation of Reagan the man, but his evaluation of those who benefited most from the Reagan years: Yuppies, moneylenders, and investment bankers. Reckoning with Reagan is especially effective for those whose formative and/or adolescent years were during Reagan's Presidency. A wonderful detour through the 80's and its President.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Informative Work on Reagan April 2, 2005
This book by Michael Schaller is an excellent work taking a look at Reagan the man and Reagan as President. I was assigned this book and used it in a major term paper for one of my classes in college. Schaller's book was instrumental in my paper and helped me argue the fact that Reagan was responsible for ending the Cold War. Aside from my paper, Schaller provides little known facts and an excellent background section on Reagan. Although hampered by the fact that many sources and documents were not public at the time this book was written, Schaller does a fine job looking at the Reagan Presidency. Definitely recommended for anyone researching about Reagan or just wanting to read about him.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Middling Assessment of a Middling President May 9, 2002
By A Customer
"Reckoning with Reagan" makes some nice attempts at getting a grip on Reagan's presidency. Taking into account the good as well as the bad, it provides a more balanced account that the fawning hero worship pieces written by Noonan and D'Souza. An easy read, though it leaves the reader wanting a little more detail in spots.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting Book February 12, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am no fan of Reagan's policies, as I would consider myself a Liberal Democrat. However, I would recommend this book because it portrays a more personal side of Reagan. I found it very interesting learning about Reagan as a person and his presidential style. I learned what drove Reagan to become who he was. I learned the importance of separating a politician's policies from who he is as a person.
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