Reckoning with Reagan

America and Its President in the 1980s

by Michael Schaller

At the height of Ronald Reagan's popularity in July 1986, Time magazine wrote glowingly of how he had "found America's sweet spot." Reagan seemed a "magician who carries a bright, ideal America like a holograph in his mind and projects its image in the air." Not since the rhapsody about "Camelot" that surrounded John F. Kennedy in the wake of his assassination had a president been spoken of so reverently. Reagan pledged to bring Americans a "little good news" and during the next eight years, through recession and recovery, cold war and detente, success and scandal Reagan forged a powerful bond with the public. His popularity appeared so unrelated to actual achievements and so undiminished by failure that Colorado Representative Pat Schroeder dubbed him the "Teflon president." Providing a brief but comprehensive and non-polemical overview of what exactly took place during the Reagan years, Michael Schaller presents a lively account of the Reagan presidency, weighing the president's great personal and political popularity against the effects of his economic, social, diplomatic, and strategic decisions.Much more than an account of Reagan the man, Schaller offers us a fascinating evaluation of the Reagan phenomenon, providing an accessible introduction for Americans struggling to understand the illusory and actual impact of the Reagan administration on the 1980s and on years to come.

  • Oxford University Press; May 1992
  • ISBN: 9780195090499
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: Reckoning with Reagan
  • Author: Michael Schaller
  • Imprint: Oxford University Press

In The Press

"An excellent survey of the Reagan years that will spark class discussion in a constructive way."--Professor Lewis L. Gould, University of Texas at Austin
"A wonderful tour through the 80's. Sometimes it makes you laugh, sometimes it makes you cry, more often it does both, even while providing insights into Reagan and how we got into such messes as the S&L scandal and Iran-Contra. 'Government is the problem,' said candidate Reagan. President Reagan proved it to be true. Highly recommended."--Stephen E. Ambrose, Director of the Eisenhower Center, University of New Orleans
"A powerful analysis, making sense of our recent past. Schaller explains Reagan's popularity in the 1980's as well as the ways his very real appeal trivialized American politics. The book is both comprehensive and comprehensible. Readers will be able to understand such complex and baffling episodes as the Iran-contra affair and the savings and loan debacle. Best of all, Schaller explains how the warm glow of the Reagan years came from illusion and provoked the unhappiness that followed."--Robert D. Schulzinger, University of Colorado at Boulder
"A clear and concise commentary on the Reagan administration."--Wilson J. Warren, Ph.D., Valley City State University


About The Author

Michael Schaller is Professor of History at the University of Arizona. He is the author of a number of books, including Douglas MacArthur: The Far Eastern General, The American Occupation of Japan: The Origins of the Cold War in Asia, and The United States and China in the Twentieth Century.