Magazine September 21, 2009, Issue

Reagan: Freeway or Detour?

Former president Ronald Reagan speaks at the opening of his library in Simi, Calif., 1991. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)
The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution, 1980–1989, by Steven F. Hayward (Crown Forum, 753 pp., $35)

On Nov. 3, 1964, Barry Goldwater suffered a landslide defeat. It followed a presidential campaign in which the notorious “Daisy commercial” showed an adorable little girl, seconds before she is vaporized by a nuclear explosion, while Lyndon Johnson intoned, “We must either love each other, or we must die.” On Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall was breached. One reason the world avoided global annihilation despite not establishing universal love is that, in the intervening 25 years and 6 days, Ronald Reagan became a politician, a governor, Goldwater’s successor as the leader of the conservative movement, and a two-term president.

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