Did America's fortieth president lead a conservative counterrevolution that left liberalism gasping for air? The answer, for both his admirers and his detractors, is often "yes." In Morning in America, Gil Troy argues that the Great Communicator was also the Great Conciliator. His pioneering and lively reassessment of Ronald Reagan's legacy takes us through the 1980s in ten year-by-year chapters, integrating the story of the Reagan presidency with stories of the decade's cultural icons and watershed moments-from personalities to popular television shows.
One such watershed moment was the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. With the trauma of Vietnam fading, the triumph of America's 1983 invasion of tiny Grenada still fresh, and a reviving economy, Americans geared up for a festival of international harmony that-spurred on by an entertainment-focused news media, corporate sponsors, and the President himself-became a celebration of the good old U.S.A. At the Games' opening, Reagan presided over a thousand-voice choir, a 750-member marching band, and a 90,000-strong teary-eyed audience singing "America the Beautiful!" while waving thousands of flags.
Reagan emerges more as happy warrior than angry ideologue, as a big-picture man better at setting America's mood than implementing his program. With a vigorous Democratic opposition, Reagan's own affability, and other limiting factors, the eighties were less counterrevolutionary than many believe. Many sixties' innovations went mainstream, from civil rights to feminism. Reagan fostered a political culture centered on individualism and consumption-finding common ground between the right and the left.
Written with verve, Morning in America is both a major new look at one of America's most influential modern-day presidents and the definitive story of a decade that continues to shape our times.
"A lively, sprawling work that sees Reagan's reflection in everything from '80s TV shows such as Dynasty to the rejection of 'New Coke' by consumers to the creation of CNN and USA TODAY. . . . He may have disregarded the rise of AIDS and seemed clueless about the rise in homelessness during his watch, but he also helped create 'an Era of Good Feelings' that left most Americans feeling better about themselves and their country."--Susan Page, USA TODAY
"Morning in America is the rarest of academic histories: insightful, energetic, and a joy to read."--Peter Schweizer, The New York Sun
"[A] masterly study of Ronald Reagan's presidency--the best single book we have on his administration to date."--David Turner, Raleigh News & Observer
"The main thing Troy has produced is a portrait of the United States in the 1980s in all of its color and texture. . . . [T]he book is a mine of information on U.S. popular culture, presented by one who lived through those times."--Norman Webster, Montreal Gazette
"A balanced, thoughtful, and thoroughly entertaining account of Reagan's legacy. . . . This book is sure to become popular and deserves a large audience. Enthusiastically recommended."--Library Journal
"A valuable and enjoyable book. . . . Troy's readable book is impressive in its integration of political and social history, while he rightly recognizes that popular culture can provide an effective gauge of the public mood. Thus, he effectively uses the television series Hill Street Blues to illustrate attitudes towards crime and race, and throughout, he uses television, film, and popular music. Troy is anything but a Reagan cheerleader, and he stresses the still contentious nature of the Reagan record."--Philip Jenkins, Books & Culture