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Publisher's Summary

In The Age of Reagan, Sean Wilentz offers a fresh, brilliant chronicle of America's political history since the fall of Nixon. The past 35 years have marked an era of conservatism. Although briefly interrupted in the late 1970s and temporarily reversed in the 1990s, a powerful surge from the Right has dominated American politics and government. Wilentz accounts for how an extreme conservative movement once deemed marginal managed to seize power and hold it, and the momentous consequences that followed.

Ronald Reagan has been the single most important political figure of this age. Without Reagan, the conservative movement would never have been as successful as it was. In his political persona, as well as his policies, Reagan embodied a new fusion of deeply right-leaning politics with some of the rhetoric and even the spirit of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal and of John F. Kennedy's New Frontier.

In American political history, there have been a few figures who, for better or worse, have placed their political stamp indelibly on their times. They include Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt - and Ronald Reagan.

A conservative hero in a conservative age, Reagan is either so admired by a minority of historians or so disliked by the others that it has been difficult to evaluate his administration with detachment. The Age of Reagan raises profound questions and opens passionate debate about our nation's recent past.

©2008 Sean Wilentz; (P)2008 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Eloquent and compelling....[A] superb account." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • John
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 12-22-09

Impressive Achievement

This is an exceptionally coherent, balanced, and insightful account of the years leading up to, and then after Ronald Reagan's presidency. I was not a fan of Reagan's nor of recent attempts to immortalize him as a wise seer. But Wilenz gives the man his due while also providing a brisk and memorable narrative of the sour, often heartbreaking, sometimes inspiring years that we have lived through since Carter was president. The reader is excellent. I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to look into, or look out from the Reagan years and beyond.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Chris
  • Healdsburg, CA, United States
  • 11-26-08

Partisan interpretation of history

I was hoping for an objective analysis of the period I grew up in with both the pros and the cons of the various administrations outlined in a non-partisan way. That's not what I got. The author is clearly apolegetic to any Democratic miscues while attributing nefarious intent by secret cabals to anything Republican. In that sense it was disappointing but the book did provide a fairly thorough chronology of the important events of the last 40 years. By the end of the book and the review of the Bush administration, however, I found myself rolling my eyes at the constant perjorative analysis of all things Bush - the same tripe that has kept the liberal base enflamed for the past 8 years. A historian should be objective and minimize personal opinions in favor of a tempered, even-handed accounting of the events of the period. If you're a Blue Stater you should enjoy this book.

16 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

The Age Of Reagan

Outstanding analysis. Only flaws were in his discussion of the 2000 election in which Wilenz failed to acknowledge that Florida voting machines were hacked and failure to mention the same thing in the 2004 election in Ohio. Otherwise I highly reccomend this work! 😊

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excellent

Would you consider the audio edition of The Age of Reagan to be better than the print version?

Yes, I think this book would have been much too dense for me to have realistically had the time or the will to power through it in print, but actively looked forward to listening to it while driving or doing other work.

Any additional comments?

Excellent book, very comprehensive history of American presidents and the cultural/political movements that accompanied them, as well as the way that each president either set the stage for Reagan or how he set the stage for them. I'm 27 years old so I inherited many direct byproducts of his presidency, but ironically always learned the least about him in school, likely since he was in office in the relatively recent past -- this was very informative and helped me understand the current context, and news events from my childhood, better. Entertaining and listenable. Recommend!

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Opinionated

This book had quite a few facts and insights about the Reagan era; yet, many liberal opinions as well. The author clearly states that he is a liberal and it shows in his book. Not such a great book to the fans of Reagan or Conservatism.

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  • Performance
  • Story

A horrible political hit piece..

Would you try another book from Sean Wilentz and/or Dick Hill?

No, I would never buy another book from them

What could Sean Wilentz have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Have less of a leftist bias.

What didn’t you like about Dick Hill’s performance?

They seemed like they enjoyed the material.

What character would you cut from The Age of Reagan?

The author.

Any additional comments?

A complete waste of money

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Norman
  • Auburn, CA, United States
  • 06-28-12

Scandal as History

This book is a real disappointment. If this is what passes for history nowadays among eminent scholars, it's no wonder the country has been careening to the right for decades. So much could have been written about policies and their effects, which is what I, at least, expect from historians, but instead what you get is a play-by-play account of all the office gossip from Nixon through Bush Jr. What a waste of time! Where are people to look for understanding? No more analysis or reflection than one could find in a newspaper or low-budget made-for-TV documentary.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Joseph
  • Agawam, MA, USA
  • 09-25-09

Not what I was hoping for

The first I don't know how many hours are basically about the evil Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld,and how great Jimmy Carter was. When he finally gets to Reagan he is very biased in that he very light touches on the pros and digs into the cons. I wish had read the reviews before purchasing.

8 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jamey
  • Muleshoe, TX, USA
  • 11-02-08

A skewed view of history.

A look at the last thirty five years from the point of view of the communist wing of the democratic party. A complete waste of time if you are interested in the facts.

14 of 32 people found this review helpful