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The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order: 1964-1980 Paperback – June 9, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hayward offers his examination, from an unabashedly conservative perspective, of American history from 1964 through the 1980 inauguration of Ronald Reagan as president, in the first part of a two-volume account. Senior fellow at the conservative Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, he argues that liberalism reached its peak in 1964, and that the hollowness of liberal thought, played out in the flawed presidencies of Nixon, Ford and Carter, creating a political atmosphere that allowed Reagan to preside over a fundamental change in the direction of American government. In Hayward's Manichean universe, opposite the rightness of Reagan's conservatism is the wrongness of all things liberal. Labeled with the "l word," among many others, are the war on poverty, feminism, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, d‚tente, New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael, the movie Dr. Strangelove and the "chattering class" of intellectuals. Hayward forwards many provocative opinions, among them that the Vietnam War was a success, delaying the fall of Saigon long enough to convince Communists that Southeast Asia could not be easily won; Hayward also believes that Watergate was an ideological dispute over whether the executive branch or Congress would have supremacy. The author assembles a wide variety of facts; unfortunately, he often includes them indiscriminately and tediously, as in his minute-by-minute description of the 1976 presidential primary. In the end, this is an ultraconservative polemic masquerading as history.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Reads at times like a grand historical drama . . . complete with romance and adventure and tragic characters; a thrilling survey of what we might have thought to be familiar history but which appears here quite transformed.”
Times Literary Supplement

“Excellent . . . [Hayward] acknowledges Mr. Reagan’s sunny personality and ease in public, but he dismisses these as significant factors in his election. What mattered was Mr. Reagan’s unflinching conservatism and strong character, coupled with liberalism’s failures.”
Wall Street Journal

“Grand and fascinating history . . . goes far toward making the definitive historical case for Reagan’s greatness.”
National Review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Forum; Reprint edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307453693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307453693
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Strang on September 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Reagan Revolution started with Barry Goldwater getting pounded like a disobedient mule back in 1964. That's pretty much common knowledge. Reagan campaigned for the GOP presidential candidate and delivered a well-received prime time televised speech on Goldwater's behalf. From there Reagan went to the Governorship of California and the rest is history. For those who think this is a study of Reagan, should be informed that it is instead the story of what changed America's mood in the years 64-80...a study of the politics, social changes, and what-have-you. Reagan in the early portions maks infrequent, almost cameo appreances.
Steven Hayward charts the death of small "L' liberalism (at the hands of the radical New Left) and the rise of the conservative tide which led to Reagan's victory in 1980. Much of the material has been printed before, but when it is all accumulated and is digested in full, the the effects are mind-boggling.
Thanks to Steven Hayward the history of the US from 1964 to 1980 comes alive in this absolutely brilliant book. As a Canadian, I found much of the material that related to the mid-sixties to early-seventies to be fascinating (even the economic portions were well done...and I'm no wizard with numbers!). Hayward's obvious dislike of the left's 'usual suspects' comes through on every page. Liberals may not like this book, but for the rest of us, it's a mighty fine read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jay M. Dougherty on September 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Steven F. Hayward's "Age of Reagan" is a sweeping history of the decay resulting from "New Deal" of Roosevelt as well as "The Great Society" of Johnson. As a backdrop to the philosophical backlash against "Big Government," Ronald Reagan ascends to Power in the Republican Party. For anyone looking for well-written histories of the administrations of Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter, "Age of Reagan" is an excellent source. Hayward uses considerable footnotes from various sources (such as National Review, Time, etc.) as well as quotes from the major players in all the aforementioned administrations.
It is also highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the
ascendancy of the conservative movement in American politics. Starting with the Goldwater movement and then using Reagan as a catalyst, Hayward charts the progression (or regression, depending on your political bent) of the conservative movement in America.
Hayward is also to be commended for his writing style. Not writing in the needless academic jargon or pendatry of some history writers, "The Age of Reagan" moves along quickly but with a sufficient amount of depth into all the administrations. The two-fold narrative, one focusing on the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations while the other focusing on Reagan, moves swiftly without becoming entagled.
Nevertheless, Hayward does seem to have a slightly right-wing bias. He extensively rips apart the "progressive" left and their minions, especially student protesters and the McGovern movement. He quotes extensively from "National Review" (which is a great magazine, IMHO) and William F. Buckley, Jr.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Vince Goddard on September 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Many Conservatives anxiously waited for the completion of Edmund Morris' work on Reagan because of the serious and candid attention Mr. Morris brought to his favorite subject,Theodore Roosevelt. On the same token, many historians are still unsure how to treat the 40th President, with no serious historical work being produced since Reagan faded into the shadows of the American political scene. The Age of Reagan is first serious work that will give Conservatives the proper treatment to their greatest hero, and at the same time cast Reagan in the historical context that will ensure his place as one of the greatest Presidents of the 20th century. Hayward seeks to explain the context in which the Reagan revolution set forth in motion, and why even 20 years after the presidency, Republicans and Conservatives attempt to claim the mantle of Reagan's successor. Hayward's language is lucid and compelling. The book reads as if a novel, clearly the flow that Morris struggled to find but could not find in _Dutch_. Despite it's size, this first volume is a quick read, and the second volume will be eagerly anticipated. Conservatives will be proud of the proper treatment given to Reagan, and historians will find themselves attempting to distinguish future works from the serious attention given in _The Age of Reagan_.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Ruffini on December 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In the first of two volumes on the "Age of Reagan," Steven Hayward has done an extremely creditable job of bridging the emergence of the political Right in 1964-1966 (an era which has been the focus of a great deal of recent scholarship), with the "malaise" years of the late 1970s and the collapse, Hoover-style, of a whole system of liberal governance. The years 1964 to 1980 will be seen decades from now as hinge years in American history.
The period from Goldwater to Reagan was a tumultuous one. Liberalism seemed to reach its apogee with the landslide re-election of LBJ in 1964, followed by the last uninterrupted spurt of liberal legislation in 1965. At this very moment, students in Berkeley, California coalesced around the Free Speech Movement and launched a political tidal wave that was successful in deposing Johnson in 1968 and discrediting its' primary target, the managerial liberalism of Johnson and Robert McNamara.
If the antiwar movement was successful in driving a wedge through the heart of the liberal movement and the Democratic party, it was not successful in gaining converts in the overall electorate. Hayward's central insight, I think, is that despite all the mythology surrounding the student movement, it remained deeply unpopular in the rest of America. The antiwar movement was anathema to most Americans even after 1968. Hayward also successfully shows that LBJ lost the Vietnam War because he never really wanted to fight it to a final and complete victory. Rather, the goal was to apply "graduated pressure" which would result not in victory but a "negotiated settlement." The North Vietnamese understood perfectly well that the American effort was half-hearted, and calculated they could win the war simply by grinding it to a standstill.
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