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Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1933859552
ISBN-10: 1933859555
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Editorial Reviews


"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, bestselling author of Liberty and Tyranny

 "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

  "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

 "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

"This story has been told before by journalists and historians,

including myself, but Shirley's account brings an inside dimension to

the campaign's travails. 'Rendezvous with Destiny' is prodigiously

researched and well noted. When future historians re—examine the 1980

campaign, one of their first stops is likely to be 'Rendezvous With


—Lou Cannon

"This is consequential history at every step. . . a first—rate work of

insider history. The book reads like Bob Woodward at his very best: a

probing, insightful, behind—the—scenes examination of events that had

profound implications for the trajectory of American politics. Shirley

has accomplished a great feat of scholarship and research, and it could

not have come at a better time. The current political climate is highly

reminiscent of that of the late 1970s. These historical similarities add

special value to Shirley's work. It is an important, timely book that

conservatives, Reagan admirers, and students of electoral politics will

cherish and enjoy for years. Credit is due to Shirley for a monumental


—National Review

"...New book Rendezvous with Destiny, which I am almost finished with. .

. .What a hell of a good book!"

—Larry Kudlow, CNBC

"There have been hundreds of books written about Ronald Reagan and this

is the question that always irritates an author, why do we need another

one? Well, 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. . . . It is a

fascinating book!"

—Bob Schieffer, CBS

"Author's tale of that multi—month campaign. . . has a you—are—there

quality. His intention is to provide the reader with a definitive

history of the 1980 campaign, and he succeeds almost too well. Lest your

head spin by the details of ever—shifting polls, maneuvers, and news

coverage of every step in every primary election campaign—keep going,

for the reward will be a clear understanding of how Ronald Reagan's

appeal to 'Main Street' Americans, including many blue—collar Democrats,

coincided with his own determination to win."

—Weekly Standard

"It is an exhaustive study that will be at the very core of the Reagan

bibliography for future generations, and will not anytime soon—if

ever—be surpassed."

—American Spectator

"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

 "I believe "Rendezvous" is 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. . . ."Rendezvous" is a chronicle, not an investigation, and ought

to be judged as such. And a wonderfully detailed chronicle it is."

—Mark Tapscott, Washington Examiner

"It's well—written, filled with information, and a pleasure to read.

Anyone interested in how Reagan defeated several well—respected

Republican contenders after blowing the Iowa caucuses, and then knocked

off the incumbent Democrat, will enjoy the book."

—Doug Bandow

 "Best. Reagan. Book. Evah!"

—Robert Stacy McCain

 "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."

—Chuck Todd, MSNBC

"'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

 "A superb insider's account . . . Full of anecdotes that have never

been published before."

—Houston Chronicle

 "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

 "Craig Shirley has done a masterful job. . . Shirley's books will be

the definitive works on both Reagan elections. It will be impossible to

top his extensive journalistic research and, especially, his 150

interviews with and access to all of the movers and shakers of the


—Human Events

"Craig Shirley's new book on Reagan has a powerful message:  we combined

conservatives, libertarians, and independents, all inside a big

Republican tent before ——and we can do it again. It's is an illuminating

look back at the watershed 1980 election. For those more interested in

the politics of today, Shirley's book has much to offer."


"A much broader look at the campaign that elected Reagan . . . Shirley

has gathered a wealth of evidence."


"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

"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's book is well—researched and well—written, and it gives

insight into Reagan's journey to the Oval Office. The opening lines of

the prologue are sure to bring tears to many a conservative's eye, as

Shirley sets the scene at the 1980 GOP convention in Detroit as Reagan

accepts the party's nomination for president."

—Roll Call

 "Shirley's book is less of a paean to the Hollywood B—bit—actor—turned

politico's looming presidency as it is a gritty, behind—the—scenes

account of the Reagan Revolution. Shirley goes easy on the froth,

digging deep over 37 chapters, which includes the fateful events of the

Republican presidential debate held at Nashua High School on Feb. 23,


—Nashua Telegraph

  "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."


"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

"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

About the Author

Craig Shirley is the author of the critically acclaimed bestseller 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. He has written for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Weekly Standard, among other publications, and in 2005 he was recognized as the outstanding alumnus of Springfield College. Shirley and his wife, Zorine, divide their time between their homes in Alexandria, Virginia, and “Trickle Down Point” on the Rappahannock River in Lancaster, Virginia.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 1st edition (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933859555
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933859552
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #645,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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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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