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Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America Paperback – January 5, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 2 edition (January 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935191934
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935191933
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“A first-rate work of insider history. His book reads like Bob Woodward at his very best. . . . Shirley has accomplished a great feat of scholarship and research, and it could not have come at a better time . . . A monumental accomplishment.” —National Review

“Shirley has proven himself a master of presidential campaign histories—a true heir to Theodore White. . . . An exhaustive study that . . . will not anytime soon—if ever—be surpassed.” —American Spectator

“An unbelievable book . . . I was part of the Reagan Revolution and I didn’t know 80 percent of this stuff! . . . It’s worth reading, and reading right now.” —Mark Levin, radio host, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Anyone who would understand the Reagan victory of 1980 and the movement that eliminated the Soviet Union and revitalized America must read—indeed must study—Craig Shirley’s brilliant, comprehensive work.” —Newt Gingrich

“A superb insider’s account . . . Full of anecdotes that have never been published before.” —Houston Chronicle

“Shirley has done extensive interviewing and research for Rendezvous with Destiny, and it’s a terrific read—for political junkies of all ideological stripes.” —Michael Barone, Washington Examiner

“Conservatives will love this book, and political junkies of all stripes will find it fascinating. Readers looking for high drama will eagerly absorb its more than 600 pages. . . . It is the behind-the-scenes drama that lends real suspense to the narrative.” —Washington Times

“This exhilarating history . . . arrives, serendipitously, at a moment when conservatives are much in need of an inspiriting examination of their finest hour.” —George F. Will, from the Foreword

“A scandal that once looked like it could take down a president, but soon fizzled for lack of hard evidence, gets a closer look in a new book, Rendezvous with Destiny. . . . Shirley’s new book sheds new light on the scandal. . . . The web of evidence Shirley weaves all leads to one man.” —

“A much broader look at the campaign that elected Reagan . . . Shirley has gathered a wealth of evidence.” —Politico

“Provides the first inside look at the historic 1980 election . . . Shirley shows how close Reagan’s campaign came to collapsing in the Republican primaries—and how the candidate turned things around.” —National Review Online

“The genius of Shirley’s work is to take stories we already know about, and fill in the details that take you, the reader, right into the room with the principals.” —CQ Politics

“Shirley puts to rest one of the great political mysteries: who stole Carter’s debate briefing books? . . . Shirley also reveals that the Kennedy family had a long memory on Election Day. . . . When it came time for the election, virtually all of them voted for Ronald Reagan.” —NewsMax

“Wonderfully researched and a treasure trove of information . . . It is incredibly moving too. . . . There are numerous new books about Ronald Reagan, and while many don't offer a lot of new information, this one does.” —Acton Institute

“Prodigiously researched and well noted . . . Engaging and revealing . . . When future historians re-examine the 1980 campaign, one of their first stops is likely to be Rendezvous with Destiny.” —Lou Cannon, Daily Caller

“What a hell of a good book!” —Larry Kudlow, CNBC

“We don’t have to get very far in Craig Shirley’s new book about Reagan to know that, yes, there is still a lot we didn’t know about Reagan and how he came to the White House. . . . A fascinating book!” —Bob Schieffer, CBS

“Has a you-are-there quality. [Shirley’s] intention is to provide the reader with a definitive history of the 1980 campaign, and he succeeds. . . . A trove of colorful, dramatic tales. . . . Shirley gives us a lively ride on the electoral roller coaster.” —Weekly Standard

“As conservatives continue to try to reinvent themselves in the image of RR, it is helpful to have at our disposal this meticulously researched tome detailing how ‘The Great Communicator’ overcame the Republican establishment to oust an incumbent president——and ultimately, to change the world.” —Politics Daily

“A compellingly written, thoroughly documented treatise that is essential reading for anybody who seeks to understand what happened and why on Reagan’s third try for the White House.” —Washington Examiner

“Well-written, filled with information, and a pleasure to read.” —Doug Bandow

“Best. Reagan. Book. Evah!” —Robert Stacy McCain

Rendezvous with Destiny offers a series of important practical lessons on how to run a presidential campaign, including coherent ideology and strategic nimbleness when circumstances change. Whether the reader is a Reagan fan or not, that takeaway alone makes Craig Shirley’s book a top political read.” —David Mark, Politico

“Masterful . . . Shirley’s books will be the definitive works on both Reagan elections.” —Human Events

“Enthralling . . . This book is full of true words, deep insights, long memories, and occluded details. . . . Shirley summons [the 1980 campaign] back to throbbing, vivid and immediate life.” —David Frum

“Offers more than a few pointers on what conservatives and Republicans should do in the future. And on top of that, it’s an illuminating look back at the watershed 1980 election.” —

“A new book by Craig Shirley tells the exhilarating story of how Reagan triumphed and made us believe it was morning in America again.” —Eagle Forum

“The book covers every aspect of the 1980 campaign: from Reagan’s comeback after losing the Iowa caucuses to the behind-the-scenes staff battles and the mystery of who stole President Jimmy Carter’s debate briefing books.” —The Hill

“Well-researched and well-written, and it gives insight into Reagan’s journey to the Oval Office.” —Roll Call

About the Author

Craig Shirley is the author of the New York Times bestseller December 1941 and the critically acclaimed Reagan’s Revolution, the first book detailing Reagan’s pivotal 1976 challenge to President Gerald Ford in the Republican primaries. Shirley is also president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, an influential government relations and marketing firm. A much-sought-after political adviser and commentator, Shirley has written for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Weekly Standard, among other publications.

George F. Will is a Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist for the Washington Post and the bestselling author of One Man’s America.

Newt Gingrich is the former Speaker of the House and the bestselling author of Real Change and Winning the Future.

More About the Author

Craig Shirley is the author of two critically praised bestselling books on President Reagan, :Rendezvous with Destiny:Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America" and "Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All." He is the president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, was chosen in 2005 by Springfield College as their Outstanding Alumnus and has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan's alma mater.
Shirley has written extensively for the Washington Post, the Washington Examiner, the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, Town Hall, the Weekly Standard and many other publications.

Shirley and his wife, Zorine, are the parents of four children. They reside at "Trickle Down Point" on the Rappahannock River in Lancaster, Virginia. He is now working on three more books on Reagan.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 41 customer reviews
It is well written and filled with insight.
Robert O. Schmidt
This book gives you a day-by-day breakdown of the 1980 presidential election.
Charles S. Fannin
I'm eagerly awaiting Shirley's book on Reagan's 1984 campaign!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Eric Mayforth on November 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The 1980 presidential election ranks with the elections of 1800, 1828, 1860, and 1932 as one of the most important in American history, and this book by Craig Shirley provides a comprehensive look at this pivotal contest--the author was able to gain interviews with many important figures in the campaign and unearth previously unknown facts.

Shirley outlines the social and economic conditions at the end of the 1970s that led to Reagan's election, and gives details on Reagan's activities in the years leading up to the 1980 nomination fight.

The descriptions of the long nomination fights for both parties are excellent. The author provides inside information on some of the conflicts among the Reagan staffers, recounts the famous "I am paying for this microphone" Nashua debate, and remembers the times when it looked as though Ronald Reagan's campaign and political career were over. Many do not know or remember that Gerald Ford gave serious thought to running in 1980--Shirley recalls the points in the campaign at which the former president was tempted to jump in.

The Reagan-Ford "Dream Ticket" saga, the Reagan acceptance speech, and the selection of George Bush as the vice-presidential nominee at the Detroit convention are thoroughly covered.

Even though the election ended in a landslide, the fall campaign of 1980 was one of the most suspenseful of all time, as the race looked close right up until Election Day. The author chronicles the ups and downs for both Carter and Reagan, including the all-important Cleveland debate, and even solves the mystery of the missing Carter debate briefing books.

Those of us old enough to remember Election Day 1980 will have their memories jogged by Shirley's look back at the networks' coverage of the election.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Christian Josi on October 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Landing a role as a key Reagan historian with his last book on the 1976 campaign, Craig Shirley has secured it for the ages in this meticulous run down on Ronald Reagan's second earnest go at the presidency in 1980. Come for the history, stay for the fascinating and at times hysterically funny factoids and anecdotes about the 'Campaign that Changed America'.....
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Eckert on October 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What better time for a reminder that conservatives have been there before and managed to return the GOP to the people.
Craig Shirley, in exacting detail, points put that the party was once far out of touch and yet returned to its base.
A MUST for the historian, political junkie, or combination thereof. An excellent Christmas gift for your friend who
shares your interests (after all, you've read this...)
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael McShane on November 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Half way through Craig Shirley's new book, Rendezvous With Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America, I began to wonder if America had finally produced a worthy successor to Theodore (Teddy) White, the legendary political writer of the 1960's and 70's, and the author of the classic "Making of the President" series. By the end of the book I came to the inescapable conclusion that the answer was an emphatic yes.

Shirley's crisp style and soft turn of phrase (his allusion to Senator Kennedy in a Shakespeare play is as lovely a written phrase as I have read in a long time) marks him as a leading interpreter of modern American political history. This book has achieved a level of understanding and ease of reading that is remarkable. His research is impeccable and the presentation of the Reagan story is first class.

Shirley has also achieved something almost impossible. In his first efforts he has written two books that are, and will continue to be, the definite history of Ronald Reagan's rise to the Presidency. This book, when combined with his first work on the Reagan 1976 campaign, will become the almost singular source of information for future generations of political historians who want to know how Ronald Regan won the presidency. These volumes are a significant addition and complement to the already large body of work on the actual Presidency of Ronald Reagan.

This book is a must read for those who want to know how Ronald Reagan lead the country to its challenging and ultimately victorious Rendezvous with Destiny.

-Michael McShane, Washington DC
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bill Rhatican on November 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Picking up "Rendezvous with Destiny" was reminiscing with an old friend. Shirley's account of the 1980 election cycle brought me back thirty years when anything was possible and political leaders led. Having worked for three of the principals in his book-Ford,Crane and Connolly- I re-lived the heady days and very long nights of ups and downs during the primary and general elections that year. It brought both smiles and frowns with each turned page, as memories of my life leaped off the pages. It should be required reading - along with Theodore White's book on the presidential campaign twenty years earlier- for any student of presidential elections.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hiban on January 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I don't plan on reading the recent book on Obama's election. The events are too fresh. The real story can't be told yet. Key events in the election won't be revealed until years or decades later. People aren't willing to talk just yet about how things happened. They haven't yet written their own accounts or confided to friends and family what really went down. A good author needs time to dig up all the dirt about how the battle was won. Read Rendezvous with Destiny and you'll know what I mean.

You'll enjoy the hundreds of anecdotes about an incredible cast of characters. A couple you've probably never heard of are:

1) Jerry Carmen, the loose cannon who comes across as the hero of Reagan's key victory in New Hampshire
2) Paul Corbin, the Kennedy operative who may have been responsible for Reagan's victory. The chapter on Corbin was one of the funniest things I've ever read.

It's impossible to read this book without playing "what if" with all the twists and turns. What if Carter hadn't ignored Paul Caddell's advice and agreed to debate Reagan? What if he had listened to his aides who pleaded with him not to bring up little Amy's insights on nuclear war? What if Carter's debate playbook hadn't been stolen? Shirley argues that the pilfered book didn't swing the election, but after reading his book I'm not so sure. What if Bush hadn't frozen for a brief moment in the Nashua debate? What if Kemp hadn't been passed over as Reagan's VP because of untrue allegations of homosexuality? Would Kemp have been president instead of Bush? Would that mean no President George W. Bush? What if Kennedy hadn't challenged Carter?
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