First Edition   ©2011

Conservatives in Power: The Reagan Years, 1981-1989

A Brief History with Documents

Meg Jacobs , Julian E. Zelizer

  • ISBN-10: 0-312-48831-9; ISBN-13: 978-0-312-48831-4; Format: Paper Text, 240 pages

Ronald Reagan's election to the presidency in 1980 marked a victory for conservatism. But, as Meg Jacobs and Julian Zelizer point out in their introduction, once in power, conservatives discovered that implementing their agenda and reversing the liberalism entrenched in American government would not be as easy as they had hoped. In this collection, Jacobs and Zelizer explore the successes and limitations of the so-called Reagan Revolution and chronicle its legacy through subsequent presidencies up to Barack Obama's election in 2008. More than 60 thematically organized documents -- some recently released -- illuminate conservatives' efforts to shift American politics to the right. These materials -- including speeches, memos, and articles from the popular press -- explore Reagan's personal evolution as a conservative leader, as well as Reaganomics, tax cuts, anticommunism, the arms race, the culture wars, and scandals such as Iran Contra. Photographs, document headnotes, a chronology, selected bibliography, and questions for consideration provide pedagogical support.
“This is an impressive and important book. Marking the first reappraisal of the Reagan Revolution of the Obama era, the book not only judiciously chronicles the rise of the conservative movement Reagan came to lead, it also analyzes the problems conservatives faced in power. This explication of the conservative governance -- not just conservative ideology and politics -- represents an original and welcome advance in the historical scholarship on Reagan and his legacy.”
-- Bruce J. Schulman, Boston University