The Reagan Revolution and the Rise of the New Right
A Reference Guide
by Kenneth J. Heineman
June 2021, 261pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7184-9
$65, £49, 57€, A88
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7185-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

How could conservative icon Ronald Reagan have looked to liberal hero FDR as a guide and touchstone? Reagan emulated Roosevelt’s public relations and leadership style, preserved the New Deal’s legacy programs, and experimented with new economic and social programs, all while presiding over a right-wing revolution in the United States.

For students of U.S. history, The Reagan Revolution explores how a Hollywood upstart and eventual conservative leader became one of the most successful and influential presidents in U.S. history—one whose presidency helped to define the end of the Cold War.

This book covers Ronald Reagan’s long rise to the presidency and the conservative political revolution he brought about in the 1980s. Spurning the moderate values and policies Republicans had previously championed, Reagan’s revolution continues to play an outsized role in America’s political life. This important reference book gives browsers and readers alike an opportunity to focus on many of the intertwined issues of the 1980s: abortion, gay rights, law and order, the Cold War, tax cuts, de-industrialization, the Religious Right, and the political divisions that made Reagan’s legislative victories possible.

The book opens with a concise biography covering Reagan’s rise from radio personality and actor to governor and president. Subsequent chapters cover politics and policy. Chapters also include an important review of Reagan’s legendary public relations operations ("morning in America" and the perfection of the television photo op) and the ways in which 1980s popular culture influenced and was influenced by his presidency. This section portrays Reagan as a product of Hollywood who keenly understood the importance of public opinion and creating a positive image.


  • Explains the making of foreign and public policy, including the political dynamic that shapes it, in an easy-to-understand manner
  • Serves as a rich trove of primary source documents, including policy documents and such presidential and pre-presidential speeches as Reagan's 1964 speech supporting Barry Goldwater and his first California gubernatorial inaugural address
  • Provides an overview of the evolution of presidential power
  • Outlines a chronological narrative of Ronald Reagan's life
  • Includes four narrative chapters on foreign policy, economic policy, social policy, and presidential public relations and popular culture
  • Assesses the legacies of the Reagan Revolution in the conclusion
Kenneth J. Heineman is professor of history and global security studies at Angelo State University. He is author of six previous books, including The Rise of Contemporary Conservatism in the United States and God is a Conservative: Religion, Politics, and Morality in Contemporary America. He has received the Philip S. Klein Book Prize for history writing and serves on the editorial board of Pennsylvania History.
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