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Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All Hardcover – January 20, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The campaign for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination is the only political race that Ronald Reagan ever lost. Ironically, that defeat to Gerald Ford "changed the conservative movement, the Republican Party, America, and eventually the world," writes Craig Shirley in Reagan's Revolution. Further, the campaign "marked the point when conservatives took over the Republican Party and changed its message and its ideology." Reagan's views on such issues as tax cuts, aggressive anti-Communism, reductions in government spending, and the use of military power to protect American interests moved from radical ideas to part of the Republican platform after 1976. Tracing Reagan's rise to national power to the concession speech he made at the convention, Shirley explains in great detail how Reagan almost single-handedly took the Republican Party from its "death throes" to its resurgence. He may have lost the nomination, but he saved the party. Based on interviews with insiders who worked on the campaign and the journalists and pundits who covered it, Reagan's Revolution offers many telling anecdotes and fascinating insights into the race's build-up and conclusion, making it the first book to offer exhaustive coverage of this vital period in Reagan's life. --Shawn Carkonen

From the Back Cover

"All in all, Shirley's work has much to commend it. His book should be read by anyone interested in Reagan, the rise of conservatism in the Republican Party, or American politics in the mid-1970's."
--Andrew E. Busch, Claremont Review of Books
"Craig Shirley's account will be an indispensible resource for anybody who wants to understand just how Mr. Reagan lost and why his defeat set the stage for victory four years later, upending history's supposed dialectic."
--The Wall Street Journal
"He tells the story of a losing campaign that may have saved the country, and he does it well."
--Robert D. Novak
"...a vividly written tale of this largely forgotten campaign."
--The Washington Post
"'Reagan's Revolution' captures the drama and emotion of a political battle of historic proportions."
--The Washington Times
"One of the season's most exciting political books..."
--Michael Potemra, The National Review
"Shirley's treatise on the catalysts that forged Reagan is must reading not only for the legions of Reaganites, but for anyone who wants a close look at a great man who seized the day."
"Fortunately, this missing piece in the Reagan mosaic has been put in place by Craig Shirley in his new book, Reagan's Revolution: The Story of the Campaign That Started It All."
--Human Events
"The meticulously researched volume has been hailed by critics for in-depth analysis and as a missing piece among presidential histories."
--Chris Gregor, Triangle

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Second Edition edition (January 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785260498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785260493
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Eric Hobart VINE VOICE on March 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
All students of American political history, and most adults know that Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States, serving from 1981 - 1989. What many people do not know is that his first real effort to be elected President started in 1976 - it is that campaign that Craig Shirley has recounted for us in fascinating detail in his new book Reagan's Revolution.

Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004) got his start in major politics by being elected governor of California. He later put together an 11th hour effort for the Republican Presidential Nomination against Richard Nixon, but he really didn't strive for the Presidency until 1976.

This book is a tale of the campaign, start to finish - it is almost an hour-by-hour blow of Reagan's efforts to unseat the incumbent President, Gerald R. Ford. From the time that Reagan joined the race until the convention in Kansas City was over, it was obvious that this was not going to be a "regular" political contest, as defined in the 20th century use of the phrase. Instead, Reagan brought a new zeal and style to the campaign, which made Ford and his team very nervous about their chances of claiming the nomination, much less being elected in their own right to the Presidency in 1976.

I tremendously enjoyed Shirley's writing style; this was an easy book to read, and watching the personable Reagan campaign, including his acceptance of the defeats, was fascinating to me. I personally do not remember the 1976 Presidential campaign, so this book is especailly valuable in that regard to me.

Craig Shirley has taken his first hand knowledge of Ronald Reagan and other members of the GOP to develop this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Craig Shirley's first literary attempt is a triumph. If you are a political junkie like me, you will love Shirley's narrative style of Ronald Reagan's near triumph over incumbent President Gerald Ford in the fight for the GOP nod in 1976. This wasn't just a battle between two men, but a seismic shift in the landscape of conservative politics. The GOP up until the mid seventies was dominated by what could be called the Rockefeller wing. Liberal to moderate Senators such as Jake Javits, Charles Percy, Edward Brooks, Clifford Case, Hugh Scott and Charles Mathias were the republican establishment. Conservatives in the senate like New York's James Buckley were an anomaly. Ronald Reagan and his conservative supporters were the outsiders and resented by the in power Rockefeller wing. As a result of the neither here no there liberal to moderate stance of the leadership, the Republican Party did not seem to stand for much other than they were not Democrats. Reagan in 1975 with reluctance announced his challenge to Ford, as he determined that it was time the GOP was painted not in "pale pastels" but in "bold colors". Though Reagan lost in 1976 the conservative brand on the Republican Party was now indelible. Conservative activists in the party were now not just fringe, but were now the dominant voice of the GOP. This holds true more than ever today. Reagan's shadow on the political landscape still looms large and will still be, presumably, generations from now. Here's hoping Craig Shirley attmpts another book on America's political scene.
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Format: Hardcover
As Published in...

The Weekly Standard

January, 24, 2005

By Robert D. Novak

Ford Beats Reagan!

How conservatism won in 1980 by losing in 1976.

Shirley, well known in the political community as a campaign consultant and public relations practitioner, is not a professional writer but has produced a very readable first book. It is nicely paced, meticulously researched, and packed with anecdotes. He uses both primary and secondary sources, plus interviews with surviving participants to produce an account of events that occurred when he was a junior in college. He is the dispassionate narrator, avoiding use of the first person and seldom presenting his own views.

A writer recording recent history has the problem of what to do about participants' remembering events of thirty years ago in a way that always puts them in the best light. John Sears and Dick Cheney, who was President Ford's chief of staff, were interviewed by Shirley and get generally sympathetic treatment. Shirley did not interview Clarke Reed, the Mississippi Republican leader, or Robert Hartmann, Ford's longtime adviser, and they come off very badly.

SHIRLEY DOES NOT TRY to answer the questions that have been pondered in Republican circles for the past three decades. Could Reagan have defeated Carter had he been nominated? If he had, could a Reagan presidency have succeeded if he were elected before his views on taxes were fully developed? Was it the best of all possible worlds for Reagan to lose the 1976 nomination but to be ready to run in 1980?

Nobody knows. Reagan was indeed more fully prepared for the presidency in 1980 than he was in 1976.
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