SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan

S. & S. 2014. 928p. notes. ISBN 9781476782416. $37.50; ebk. ISBN 9781476782430. HIST
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The third installment in a series of four books focusing on the American political and social climate of the 1970s, Perlstein (Nixonland) opens this volume with the end of the Vietnam War and finishes with Ronald Reagan's failed attempt to gain the Republican nomination in 1976. Perlstein demonstrates how a nervous nation disenchanted with politicians (owing to Watergate, Vietnam, and tensions with "Red China") and in throes of social change was becoming primed for a leader like Reagan and a new, modern conservatism. At times, it seems the author is stretching for a connection between certain events and Reagan's rise to power, and, overall, Perlstein paints a convincing picture. Occasionally, long descriptions of seemingly out-of-place topics are a bit jarring but they aren't bothersome enough to detract from the narrative. Particularly engaging are the author's recounts of Reagan's deft political moves, charm, and willingness to find faults in a nation unwilling to look for them. This is certainly one of the most thorough political investigations of this time frame and an important read for scholars of this period.
VERDICT Recommended for readers of political science, American history, presidential history, those interested in Watergate, and those concerned with the beginnings of the oil crisis.

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