Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers
Stu Levitan welcomes Milwaukee native Rick Perlstein, whose new book Reaganland: America’s Right Turn 1976-1980 does include some scenes in Madison and anyway is such an important contribution to our understanding of modern politics that it’s worth bending the concept just a little bit.
In the presidential campaign of 1964, Lyndon Johnson so thoroughly crushed Barry Goldwater that political commentators declared Goldwater conservatism dead and buried. But just 16 years later, the man who wowed the world with a campaign speech on Goldwater’s behalf, Ronald Reagan, carried even more electoral votes against incumbent president Jimmy Carter than Johnson had against Goldwater.
How and why that happened is the business that has occupied Rick Perlstein for almost half his life, through a literary tetralogy encompassing more than 3000 pages – Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus” (2001); then “Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America” (2008); then “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan” (2014), and now Reaganland. We still might not know where we’re going, but thanks to Rick Perlstein, we now know where we’ve been