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Conservatives in Power: the Reagan Years, 1981-1989: a Brief History With Documents (11 Edition)


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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Ronald Reagan's election to the presidency in 1980 marked a victory for conservatism. But, as Meg Jacobs and Julian Zelizer point out in their introduction, once in power, conservatives discovered that implementing their agenda and reversing the liberalism entrenched in American government would not be as easy as they had hoped. In this collection, Jacobs and Zelizer explore the successes and limitations of the so-called Reagan Revolution and chronicle its legacy through subsequent presidencies up to Barack Obama's election in 2008. More than 60 thematically organized documents — some recently released — illuminate conservatives' efforts to shift American politics to the right. These materials — including speeches, memos, and articles from the popular press — explore Reagan's personal evolution as a conservative leader, as well as Reaganomics, tax cuts, anticommunism, the arms race, the culture wars, and scandals such as Iran Contra. Photographs, document headnotes, a chronology, selected bibliography, and questions for consideration provide pedagogical support.

About the Author

MEG JACOBS (Ph.D., University of Virginia) is an associate professor of history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she specializes in twentieth-century American political history. Her first book, Pocketbook Politics: Economic Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America (2005) won the Organization of American Historian's Ellis W. Hawley prize for the best book on political economy, politics, and institutions of the modern United States, as well as the New England History Association's Best Book Award. With William J. Novak and Julian E. Zelizer, she is also a coeditor of The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History (2003).

JULIAN E. ZELIZER (Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University) is professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. His book, Taxing America: Wilbur D.  Mills, Congress and the State, 1945-1975 (1998) won the Organization of American Historian's Ellis W. Hawley prize for the best book on political economy, politics, and institutions of the modern United States and the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation's D.B. Hardeman Prize for Best Publication on Congress. Zelizer is also the author of On Capitol Hill: The Struggle  to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948-2000 (2004) and Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National  Security--From World War II to the War on Terrorism (2010). With William J. Novak and Meg Jacobs, he is also a coeditor of The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History (2003).

Table of Contents



PART ONE. Introduction: Mr. Conservative Comes to Washington

     From Movement to Governance

     Domestic Politics

     National Security 

     Conservatism since 1988

PART TWO. The Documents

Origins, 1957-1980

     1. Ronald Reagan, Commencement Address at Eureka College, June 7, 1957

     2. Ronald Reagan, A Time for Choosing, October 27, 1964

     3. Ronald Reagan, Campaign Speech at the Cow Palace, San Francisco, May 12, 1966

     4. Ronald Reagan, California and the Problem of Government Growth, January 5, 1967

     5. Ronald Reagan, Speech to America, March 31, 1976

     6. Newt Gingrich, Campaign Speech to College Republicans in Atlanta, June 24, 1978

     7. Ronald Reagan, Speech at Neshoba County Fair, August 3, 1980

Reaganomics, 1981

     8. Ronald Reagan, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981

     9. Ronald Reagan, Address to the Nation on the Economy, February 5, 1981 

     10. Robert Michel, Letter to Republican Colleagues, May 29, 1981

     11. Ronald Reagan, Air Traffic Controllers Strike, August 3, 1981

     12. William Greider, The Education of David Stockman, December 1981

Mobilizing on the Political Left and Right, 1982

     13. Elizabeth H. Dole, Black Strategy, February 24, 1982

     14. William F. Sittmann, Summer Alternatives, May 5, 1982

     15. Elizabeth H. Dole, Conservative Social Agenda, March 9, 1982

     16. John T. (Terry) Dolan, Letter to James Baker, August 12, 1982

     17. Ronald Reagan, Letter to Barry Goldwater, September 7, 1982

     18. Lee Atwater, “The Gender Gap”: A Postelection Assessment, November 23, 1982

Morning in America: Reagan's Reelection, 1983-1985

     19. Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., Campaign to Save Medicare/Medicaid, 1984

     20. Ronald Reagan, Radio Address to the Nation on the Presidential Campaign, October 13, 1984

     21. Ronald Reagan, Remarks of the President to the Twelfth Annual Conservative Political Action Conference, March 1, 1985

Domestic Culture Wars, 1986-1988

     22. William J. Bennett, Completing the Reagan Revolution, July 8, 1986

     23. Ronald Reagan, Address to the Nation on the Campaign against Drug Abuse, September 14, 1986

     24. Edward M. Kennedy, Robert Bork's America, July 1, 1987

     25. Gary L. Bauer, Issues Update - Taxes and the Budget, October 23, 1987

     26. Frank J. Donatelli, “Selfishness” as a 1988 Campaign Issue, January 6, 1988

     27. Ronald Reagan, 1988 Legislative and Administrative Message: A Union of Individuals, January 25, 1988

Reagan's Foreign Policy: Peace through Strength, 1980-1983

     28. Ronald Reagan, A Strategy for Peace in the Eighties, October 19, 1980

     29. Alexander M. Haig Jr., Letter to Brezhnev, September 18, 1981

     30. Minutes of National Security Council Meeting on Strategy toward Cuba and Central America, November 10, 1981

     31. A Public Affairs Program to Support the Administration's Nuclear Policy, May 5, 1982

     32. National Security Council, Directive No. 75 on U.S. Relations with the USSR, January 17, 1983

     33. Ronald Reagan, “Evil Empire” Speech, March 8, 1983

     34. Ronald Reagan, Address to the Nation on Defense and National Security, March 23, 1983

Setbacks and Victories in Foreign Affairs, 1983-1984

     35. Robert C. Byrd and Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., Letter to President Reagan, July 28, 1983

     36. CBS News/New York Times, Poll on Grenada and Lebanon Conflicts, October 28, 1983

     37. William I. Greener III, Upcoming Movie on ABC, November 17, 1983

     38. Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Ceremony Commemorating the Fortieth Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, D-Day, June 5, 1984

     39. Debate between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale, October 21, 1984

International Negotiations and Covert Missions, 1985-1986

     40. Ronald Reagan, Letter to Mikhail Gorbachev, March 11, 1985, and Alexander Yakovlev, Memo on Reagan, March 12, 1985

     41. Oliver North, Fallback Plan for the Nicaraguan Resistance, March 16, 1985

     42. Memo on Conversation between Reagan and Gorbachev and Meeting While Leaders Walk, November 19, 1985

     43. Oliver North and John M. Poindexter, Covert Action Finding Regarding Iran, January 17, 1986

     44. Ronald Reagan, Address to the Nation on the Situation in Nicaragua, March 16, 1986

National Security Scandal and Success, 1986-1988 

     45. Caspar Weinberger, Oval Office Meeting on Iran-Contra, November 10, 1986

     46. Ronald Reagan, Address to the Nation on the Iran Arms and Contra Aid Controversy, March 4, 1987

     47. Ronald Reagan, Remarks on East-West Relations at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, June 12, 1987

     48. Ronald Reagan, Address to the Nation on the Iran Arms and Contra Aid Controversy and Administration Goals, August 12, 1987

     49. Arthur B. Culvahouse, Iran-Contra Congressional Reports, November 16, 1987

     50. Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair, Introduction to Iran-Contra Minority Report, 1987

     51. Meeting of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, December 8, 1987

     52. Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, December 16, 1988

Legacies, 1988-2009

     53. George H. W. Bush, Acceptance Speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention, August 18, 1988

     54. George H. W. Bush, “New World Order” Speech, September 11, 1990

     55. Republican Party Leaders, Contract with America, 1994

     56. William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, August 22, 1996

     57. George W. Bush, Acceptance Speech at the 2000 Republican National Convention, August 3, 2000

     58. George W. Bush, Address on the U.S. Response to the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, September 20, 2001

     59. George W. Bush, Eulogy at the National Funeral Service for Ronald Reagan, June 11, 2004

     60. Michael Scherer, Right-Wingers Turn against Bush, February 9, 2006

     61. Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson, A Political Odyssey, August 2, 2009


     A Chronology of Ronald Reagan and Conservatism (1911-2004)

     Questions for Consideration

     Selected Bibliography


Product Details

Jacobs, Meg
Bedford Books
Zelizer, Julian E.
General History
US History - 20th Century
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Bedford Cultural Editions Series
Publication Date:
8.25 x 5.50 in

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