The Reagan Era: A History of the 1980s

Columbia University Press
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In this concise yet thorough history of America in the 1980s, Doug Rossinow takes the full measure of Ronald Reagan's presidency and the ideology of Reaganism. Believers in libertarian economics and a muscular foreign policy, Reaganite conservatives in the 1980s achieved impressive success in their efforts to transform American government, politics, and society, ushering in the political and social system Americans inhabit today.

Rossinow links current trends in economic inequality to the policies and social developments of the Reagan era. He reckons with the racial politics of Reaganism and its debt to the backlash generated by the civil rights movement, as well as Reaganism's entanglement with the politics of crime and the rise of mass incarceration. Rossinow narrates the conflicts that rocked U.S. foreign policy toward Central America, and he explains the role of the recession during the early 1980s in the decline of manufacturing and the growth of a service economy.

From the widening gender gap to the triumph of yuppies and rap music, from Reagan's tax cuts and military buildup to the celebrity of Michael Jackson and Madonna, from the era's Wall Street scandals to the successes of Bill Gates and Sam Walton, from the first "war on terror" to the end of the Cold War and the brink of America's first war with Iraq, this history, lively and readable yet sober and unsparing, gives readers vital perspective on a decade that dramatically altered the American landscape.
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About the author

Doug Rossinow, professor of history at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota, is the author of numerous works, including Visions of Progress: The Left-Liberal Tradition in America. He has been a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Oslo and is past president of the Peace History Society.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Columbia University Press
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Published on
Feb 17, 2015
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9780231538657
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / American Government / Executive Branch
Political Science / Political Economy
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Conservatism & Liberalism
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Content Protection
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Eligible for Family Library

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How Woodrow Wilson's vision of making the world safe for democracy has been betrayed—and how America can fulfill it again

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Why Wilson Matters explains how the liberal internationalist community can regain a sense of identity and purpose following the betrayal of Wilson’s vision by the brash “neo-Wilsonianism” being pursued today. Drawing on Wilson’s original writings and speeches, Tony Smith traces how his thinking about America’s role in the world evolved in the years leading up to and during his presidency, and how the Wilsonian tradition went on to influence American foreign policy in the decades that followed—for good and for ill. He traces the tradition’s evolution from its “classic” era with Wilson, to its “hegemonic” stage during the Cold War, to its “imperialist” phase today. Smith calls for an end to reckless forms of U.S. foreign intervention, and a return to the prudence and “eternal vigilance” of Wilson’s own time.

Why Wilson Matters renews hope that the United States might again become effectively liberal by returning to the sense of realism that Wilson espoused, one where the promotion of democracy around the world is balanced by the understanding that such efforts are not likely to come quickly and without costs.

In The Death of the Grown-Up, Diana West diagnosed the demise of Western civilization by looking at its chief symptom: our inability to become adults who render judgments of right and wrong. In American Betrayal, West digs deeper to discover the root of this malaise and uncovers a body of lies that Americans have been led to regard as the near-sacred history of World War II and its Cold War aftermath.

Part real-life thriller, part national tragedy, American Betrayal lights up the massive, Moscow-directed penetration of America's most hallowed halls of power, revealing not just the familiar struggle between Communism and the Free World, but the hidden war between those wishing to conceal the truth and those trying to expose the increasingly official web of lies.

American Betrayal is America's lost history, a chronicle that pits Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight David Eisenhower, and other American icons who shielded overlapping Communist conspiracies against the investigators, politicians, defectors, and others (including Senator Joseph McCarthy) who tried to tell the American people the truth.

American Betrayal shatters the approved histories of an era that begins with FDR's first inauguration, when "happy days" are supposed to be here again, and ends when we "win" the Cold War. It is here, amid the rubble, where Diana West focuses on the World War II--Cold War deal with the devil in which America surrendered her principles in exchange for a series of Big Lies whose preservation soon became the basis of our leaders' own self-preservation. It was this moral surrender to deception and self-deception, West argues, that sent us down the long road to moral relativism, "political correctness," and other cultural ills that have left us unable to ask the hard questions: Does our silence on the crimes of Communism explain our silence on the totalitarianism of Islam? Is Uncle Sam once again betraying America?

In American Betrayal, Diana West shakes the historical record to bring down a new understanding of our past, our present, and how we have become a nation unable to know truth from lies.

An essential responsibility of the U.S. Congress is holding the president accountable for the conduct of foreign policy. In this in-depth look at formal oversight hearings by the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, Linda Fowler evaluates how the legislature's most visible and important watchdogs performed from the mid-twentieth century to the present. She finds a noticeable reduction in public and secret hearings since the mid-1990s and establishes that American foreign policy frequently violated basic conditions for democratic accountability. Committee scrutiny of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, she notes, fell below levels of oversight in prior major conflicts.

Fowler attributes the drop in watchdog activity to growing disinterest among senators in committee work, biases among members who join the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, and motives that shield presidents, particularly Republicans, from public inquiry. Her detailed case studies of the Truman Doctrine, Vietnam War, Panama Canal Treaty, humanitarian mission in Somalia, and Iraq War illustrate the importance of oversight in generating the information citizens need to judge the president’s national security policies. She argues for a reassessment of congressional war powers and proposes reforms to encourage Senate watchdogs to improve public deliberation about decisions of war and peace.

Watchdogs on the Hill investigates America’s national security oversight and its critical place in the review of congressional and presidential powers in foreign policy.

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#1 New York Times Bestseller

With extraordinary access to the West Wing, Michael Wolff reveals what happened behind-the-scenes in the first nine months of the most controversial presidency of our time in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the country—and the world—has witnessed a stormy, outrageous, and absolutely mesmerizing presidential term that reflects the volatility and fierceness of the man elected Commander-in-Chief.

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Never before in history has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

“Essential reading.”—Michael D’Antonio, author of Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success, CNN.com

“Not since Harry Potter has a new book caught fire in this way...[Fire and Fury] is indeed a significant achievement, which deserves much of the attention it has received.”—The Economist

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