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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.