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Ronald Reagan: The Politics of Symbolism Paperback – 5 May 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; New edition edition (5 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067477941X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674779419
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.6 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 593,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

We are in desperate need of a better 'fix' on Reagan ... and this is the kind of reasoned, factual, non-polemical book that will attract attention.--James MacGregor Burns

About the Author

Robert Dallek is Professor of History at Boston University. He is the author of several books, including a two-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 April 1999
Format: Paperback
Robert Dallek, one of my favorite historians, here paints a picture of Reagan in his first four years in office which sees the former actor and Governor as an ideologue who, ironically, uses symbolism over substance to form his coalition.
Dallek's book makes great points about Reagan's legacy, even though it was written just four years into his Presidency. He points out the horrible legacy of the national debt, which grew by about $3 trillion during Reagan's watch. He points to the coming redistribution of wealth towadrs the wealthy and away from the middle and working class and poor. Statistics have shown that from 1979 to 1993 the top 20% saw 97% of the real increase in wealth, thus proving Dallek's beliefs. Dallek shows Reaganomics to be an anti-working class and anti-social and moral justice crusade dedicated to the old Republican views of Hoover and a slap in the face to dwindling moderation in the party, as portrayed by the great moderate Gerald Ford. Dallek shows Reagan to be an ideologue on foreign policy, whose 'zeal' for eliminatiing so-called 'waste' on programs for the poor does not translate into a zeal to eliminate true waste which affects the pockets of the wealthy arms dealers. Dallek shows Reagan's views to be uncaring and regressive and ultimately harmful to the progress of the past.
This is, to say the least, a great book. It began to show the injustice of Reaganomics, which saw the top income tax rate on the wealthy fall from 70% to 28% and payroll taxes on working individuals increase 7 separate times.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Good, but a little dated 9 May 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Robert Dallek is an excellent historian, as seen in his work on FDR's foreign policy and his masterful accounts of LBJ. This book was an attempt to gauge Reagan's presidency in the midst of it. It has some wonderful insight on Reagan's use (and abuse) of political symbolism, but it needs to be updated with more than a new preface to stay fresh.
Excellent 26 May 2014
By Matt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book; a must-read if you want an understanding of the man and his times. Meticulously researched like all of his works.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The rocommendation to the Japanese 18 Jan 2004
By Atsuko Ishiguro - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is good, but a little difficult for me.
Before I had read this book,I hadn't understood Ronald Reagan's regency much. I can understand why he is still popular among not only American but also people all over the world. I am assured that he is one of American heroes. He is sincere, hearty, humorous, and powerful.
He faced a tangle of economic problems. The inflation, interest rates, and the projected federal deficit stood at nearly record highs, and unemployment was 7.4 percent. In this situation, he said,'government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.' How great that was! He worked out a plan for economic recovery, and promised lower taxes, business expansion, more jobs, less inflation, lower interest rates, smaller deficits, and greater military strength. He stuck to the plan and succeeded.
Now Japan has a big economic problems. Most of Japanese can't see Japan's future and their one. Reagan worked out the plan and kept to it not for government's benefit but for the national concerns. He certainly executed what he had said. I want Japan to follow his example.
I appreciate this work. I will recommend Japanese to read this.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The rocommendation to the Japanese 18 Jan 2004
By Atsuko Ishiguro - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is good, but a little difficult for me.
Before I had read this book, I hadn't understood Ronald Reagan's regency much. I can understand why he is still popular among not only American but also people all over the world. I am assured that he is one of American heroes. He is sincere, hearty, humorous, and powerful.
He faced a tangle of economic problems. The inflation, interest rates, and the projected federal deficit stood at nearly record highs, and unemployment was 7.4 percent. In this situation, he said, 'government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.' How great that was! He worked out a plan for economic recovery and promised lower taxes, business expansion, more jobs, less inflation, lower interest rates, smaller deficits, and greater military strength. He stuck to the plan and succeeded!
Now Japan has a big economic problems. The national debt become grower, unemployment is higher.. Most of Japanese can't see Japan's future and their one. Reagan worked out the plan and kept to it not for government's benefit but for the national concerns. He certainly executed what he had said. I want Japanese government to follow his example.
I appreciate this work. I will recommend Japanese to read this.
15 of 36 people found the following review helpful
A great summary of Reagan's 1980's legacy 5 April 1999
By fdr224@hotmail.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Robert Dallek, one of my favorite historians, here paints a picture of Reagan in his first four years in office which sees the former actor and Governor as an ideologue who, ironically, uses symbolism over substance to form his coalition.
Dallek's book makes great points about Reagan's legacy, even though it was written just four years into his Presidency. He points out the horrible legacy of the national debt, which grew by about $3 trillion during Reagan's watch. He points to the coming redistribution of wealth towadrs the wealthy and away from the middle and working class and poor. Statistics have shown that from 1979 to 1993 the top 20% saw 97% of the real increase in wealth, thus proving Dallek's beliefs. Dallek shows Reaganomics to be an anti-working class and anti-social and moral justice crusade dedicated to the old Republican views of Hoover and a slap in the face to dwindling moderation in the party, as portrayed by the great moderate Gerald Ford. Dallek shows Reagan to be an ideologue on foreign policy, whose 'zeal' for eliminatiing so-called 'waste' on programs for the poor does not translate into a zeal to eliminate true waste which affects the pockets of the wealthy arms dealers. Dallek shows Reagan's views to be uncaring and regressive and ultimately harmful to the progress of the past.
This is, to say the least, a great book. It began to show the injustice of Reaganomics, which saw the top income tax rate on the wealthy fall from 70% to 28% and payroll taxes on working individuals increase 7 separate times. Reagan ignored great issues - such as medical insurance reform, civil rights, urban issues, the environment, education and progressive social policies - and concentrated on tax reductions for the wealthy, a false foreign policy which portrayed a hollow Soviet empire as a true warrior and a regressive nature in regards to civil rights and economics. He also began a great scam, the forging of the modern religious right. Reagan, whose religious views were inactive at best, portrayed himself as a true fundamentalist in order to win over angry white fundamentalists, who were upset with scores in civil rights, women's rights and public activism. He won over millions of working class whites by telling them he was on 'their side' and not 'the other folks' side,' that is, on the side of the minorities. Yet, while he did this, he became the poster boy for the Chamber of Commerce - what a scam! To add insult to injury, he defeated in 1980 Democrat Jimmy Carter, a truly devoted evangelical Christian. Once again, what a scam!
As a true fan of real history, I appreciate this work. Republican ideologues today falsely paint Reagan as a great President, when in fact he was mediocre at best.
Dallek is one of the best out there. His books on LBJ and FDR are great, as is his work on the Presidents. For those who enjoyed his past work, I would highly recommend this one! This one comes with a great recommendation by the great historian James Mcgregor Burns.
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