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Reagan's 1968 Dress Rehearsal: Ike, RFK, and Reagan's Emergence as a World Statesman Paperback – April 4, 2016
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“I was privileged to serve in the Eisenhower and Reagan administrations, and during those years I had the opportunity to observe that Ike and Reagan were very much alike in a number of ways. Both were smarter than people thought, they were comfortable in their own skins, and they were skillful in getting things done. Kopelson sheds new light on a neglected side of Reagan’s development into an astute statesman.” The Honorable George P. Shultz, Secretary of State under President Reagan, was Senior Staff Economist on President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisers. He is the winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Reagan Distinguished American Award, and the Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service.
“In Reagan’s 1968 Dress Rehearsal, Gene Kopelson has provided an extensively detailed and carefully documented account of Ronald Reagan’s first foray into presidential candidacy. Particularly fascinating is the author’s original research, which reveals how a highly successful president of a prior era–Dwight David Eisenhower–provided invaluable advice and encouragement to Reagan, which helped to shape the leadership and accomplishments of our 40th president.” The Honorable Edwin Meese III, former Attorney General, is The Heritage Foundation’s Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus and wrote With Reagan: The Inside Story.
"Ronald Reagan really did run for president in 1968. Historian Kopelson weaves an intricate and fascinating look at how Reagan first sought the leadership of the free world. A must-read for anyone interested in Reagan history." --Thomas C. Reed, 11th Secretary of the Air Force, Special Assistant to President Reagan for National Security Policy
“Gene Kopelson has been on a one-man singular crusade to enlighten America and the world about the fascinating and forgotten relationships between Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower and Robert F. Kennedy. His research is very important. He has collected information that has flatly eluded history and most biographers of Reagan. Future scholars of these three men will not be able to ignore what Gene has found and reported here.” Paul Kengor, Ph.D. is professor of political science at Grove City College and author of six books on Ronald Reagan and his presidency.
"One might have thought that everything that could be said about Eisenhower and Reagan had been said. Not true. In an original contribution to the literature on the two men, Gene Kopelson shows that Eisenhower was an important mentor to Ronald Reagan." --Fred I. Greenstein, Professor Emeritus of Politics at Princeton University
"Gene Kopelson has done the important work which eluded many others. Ronald Reagan's first run for president was an important dress rehearsal, in many ways setting the stage for 1976 and, ultimately, the revolutionary election of 1980. Bravo!" --Craig Shirley, a renowned Reagan historian
“Addictively interesting!” Fred Barnes is the executive editor of The Weekly Standard, a contributor to Fox News Channel, and was co-host of The Beltway Boys. Barnes was one of the moderators for the second 1984 presidential debate between President Reagan and former Vice-President Walter Mondale.
“Kopelson’s book is an absolute must-read.” Daily Wire
About the Author
Gene Kopelson is president of the New England chapter, and on the Board of Trustees, of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, an active Churchillian, and a holocaust educator. As a historian, he has published works on Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, Ronald Reagan’s 1966 campaign and Mexican American voters, the 1968 Nebraska and Oregon Republican primaries, and Washington State Republican politics in the 1960s. The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial featured his research on Robert F. Kennedy as an inspiration to Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. His research on Reagan and Eisenhower was featured in 2015 at the 125th Commemoration of the Birth of Dwight Eisenhower at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library.
Kopelson has organized and spoken at lectures about: the 2008 Centennial Celebration of the Seattle arrival of Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet; Theodore Roosevelt’s navy and the 21st Century, at the Naval War College; the Roosevelt-Rondon Expedition as well as the renovations of Sagamore Hill, at Harvard; holocaust righteous gentile and rescuer, Chiune Sugihara; the leader of the revolt at the Sobibor death camp, Toivi Blatt; and Jewish partisans. He and his wife Mindy educate about the resistance and update teacher-student book and video teaching trunks at the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle.
When not researching and writing history, Dr. Gene Kopelson is a cancer physician. He has published over forty medical articles, contributed chapters in medical textbooks, and lectured in the U.S. and abroad on radiation oncology. He graduated Princeton University with an A.B. Cum Laude in Biochemistry, obtained his M.D. at Columbia University, and completed his internship and residency at Harvard University’s Department of Radiation Oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. For two decades he was the director of a cancer center affiliated with the Yale University School of Medicine and was a practice accreditor for the American College of Radiation Oncology.
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Calling it "Reagan's Dress Rehearsal" is very appropriate as the book details how Reagan's initial presidential campaign contains a lot of elements we would see in his administration: his strong anti-communist sentiments, his zero tolerance for labor strikes, his interest in keeping America safe, and so forth.
The book goes into great detail on Reagan's relationship with President Eisenhower, an important reminder of the chain of previous political leaders inspiring the next political leaders.
The book not only follows Reagan but does a good job of introducing the various underlings who worked behind the scenes throughout the country to get Reagan to the white house.
My one minor complaint about the book is that I felt Mr. Kopelson should have stayed with the story of Reagan. I felt there were a few too many times that the book brings up current politics that Reagan didn't even live to see.
1968, was, of course, also a hinge moment in American history. Reagan was interacting with giants who were in their final act--most notably Dwight Eisenhower--as well as his political contemporaries, including Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon, Robert Kennedy, and others.
Kopelson has done yeoman's research in primary and secondary sources to bring together a fine portrait of Reagan and the moment.
As the United States heads into another time of rapid change, interest in the 1960s is rising. This book can be usefully read along with other entries, including Jonathan Darman's 'Landslide,' Richard Norton Smith's authoritative biography of Nelson Rockefeller, 'On His Own Terms,' and Patrick Buchanan's 'The Greatest Comeback.'