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Sleepwalking Through History: America in the…

Sleepwalking Through History: America in the Reagan Years

by Haynes Johnson

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Less an indictment of Reagan than that of the US at the time (hence the subtitle), Johnson presents a different look than the nostalgic "we miss Reagan" fans remember. This is the Reagan *I* remember: the teflon coated abuser of power who surrounded himself with more crooks than Nixon. Now to read "Tear Down the Myth" by Will Bunch. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Sleepwalking Through History presents itself as a first-draft history of America in the 1980s. In fact, it’s something subtly but significantly different. Haynes Johnson is a political reporter, and Sleepwalking is a political book. The material that’s not overtly about politics gets tied to political themes (the high-technology boom), glossed over (MTV), or ignored altogether. It might have been better subtitled: The Reagan Administration and what it did to America.

It is, in Johnson’s eyes, very definitely “to” rather than “for.” He has considerable respect for Reagan as a politician, but far less for Reagan as a chief executive. He catalogs, in detail, the detrimental effects of Reagan’s massive tax cuts, ballooning defense budgets, and foreign policy adventurism. He untangles the tangled web of the Iran-Contra scandal that darkened Reagan’s second term. He dissects, mercilessly, the carefully constructed public image Reagan’s handlers used to sell their disastrous policies to a public worn down by the complex, seemingly intractable problems of the 1970s. Sleepwalking is not, for all that, a “political” book in the modern sense. It is not a full-throated partisan assault on the principles and policies of the Other Guys, but long-form journalism framed as retrospective analysis. Johnson has a point of view, but he also has abundant quotations from clearly identified sources – many of them former Reagan aides. He has, to borrow the language of the classroom, shown his work.

If a detailed, nuanced, critical analysis of the Reagan administration – written when the dust of the eighties had barely settled, and even the first Al Quaeda attack on the World Trade Center lay in the future – is what you’re looking for . . . you’ve found it. If you’re interested in a fully rounded portrait of America in the “decade of greed,” keep looking. ( )
1 vote ABVR | Apr 24, 2013 |
Great read. If you worship President Reagan, you will hate this book, but you should read it. ( )
  bibliosk8er | Aug 14, 2012 |
2441 Sleepwalking Through History: America in the Reagan Years, by Haynes Johnson (read 12 Apr 1992) This is the author's attempt to emulate Frederick Lewis Allen's great books on the 1920's and 1930's, but it is far more opinionated and not very comprehensive. It concentrates on a few things, like the greed on Wall Street, televangelists, and Iran-Contra. He clearly shows Reagan's pitiful performance as President. He certainly paints a dim picture of America's future--our 3 trillion dollar debt, the decline of America's education, etc. It is journalism, not history, but well worth reading. ( )
  Schmerguls | May 4, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385422598, Paperback)

This national best-seller brilliantly analyzes America in the 1980s from the election of Ronald Reagan through to the end of the decade.  The author points a vivid portrait not only of Reagan's presidency, but also of the Iran-Contra affair, the boom times on Wall Street and the religious revival led by Swaggart, Bakker et al.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:06 -0400)

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