C/D: Rick Perlstein

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I read about him in the Chicago Reader last week and he sounds interesting but I've never read anything by him. Whatch'all think?

Jesse, Monday, 28 January 2008 06:25 (thirteen years ago) link

would like to get around to reading his goldwater bio, someday

m coleman, Monday, 28 January 2008 11:40 (thirteen years ago) link

Before the Storm was interesting--less a bio of Goldwater than a view of the emerging Conservative movement, for which Barry was a kind of spokesdummy.

mulla atari, Monday, 28 January 2008 12:01 (thirteen years ago) link


The Reader article.

Jesse, Monday, 28 January 2008 15:33 (thirteen years ago) link

two years pass...

Nixonland is one of the best political histories I've ever read. Currently halfway through Before the Storm, which is a great insight into the genesis of batshit conservatism - rare to find a leftwing writer so engaged with finding out what makes the right tick. He's such a stylish, confident narrator too.

gotanynewsstory? (Dorianlynskey), Thursday, 15 April 2010 22:59 (eleven years ago) link

would like to get around to reading his goldwater bio, someday

finally read Before The Storm last year and it is indeed excellent both as history of wingnutt conservatism and character study of ol' Barry, what a complicated & conflicted guy.

are we human or are we dancer (m coleman), Friday, 16 April 2010 09:41 (eleven years ago) link

Loved Before The Storm when I read it last January; it and Nixonland are really a two-part novel.

Throwing Muses are reuniting for my next orgasm! (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 16 April 2010 11:08 (eleven years ago) link

one year passes...

I just started Nixonland, and enjoyed the story of Dick and Murray Chotiner breaking into Elmer Bobst's pool house, but Perlstein has a real dumb brushoff of the original Planet of the Apes (it's about the Fall of Whitey).

joyless shithead (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 28 June 2011 19:00 (ten years ago) link

It's been two years since I read Nixonland, but I remember it more as him throwing out what seemed like an obvious subtext to the movie: that it was an expression of white fear over all the post-Watts rioting that was going on. I don't remember him dismissing the film--maybe I'm wrong.

clemenza, Tuesday, 28 June 2011 19:54 (ten years ago) link

one month passes...

I was surprised to learn Sinatra supported HHH in '68; thought he'd already switched country clubs by then.

Love that Hubert quote after the convention: "let's stop pretending Mayor Daley did anything wrong." (Not sure if that includes yelling 'fuck you, Jew bastard' at Abe Ribicoff on nat'l TV)

satan club sandwich (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 9 August 2011 18:32 (ten years ago) link

three years pass...


jaymc, Thursday, 7 May 2015 15:20 (six years ago) link

two months pass...

finally finished nixonland. i liked it overall but it's kind of an exhausting read, perlstein's prose pretty much never cools down and it's a little hard to take for more than 800 pages. the stand-alone chapters are great (especially the one on kent state).

there are also way too many paragraphs where perlstein seems to be just ticking off one day's events after another with no analysis, as if he thinks his descriptive writing is awesome enough to give you the gist of what happened without any need to elaborate on it.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Monday, 20 July 2015 20:33 (six years ago) link

there are also way too many paragraphs where perlstein seems to be just ticking off one day's events after another with no analysis, as if he thinks his descriptive writing is awesome enough to give you the gist of what happened without any need to elaborate on it

This problem gets much more irksome in the sequel, The Invisible Bridge, which however is still worth reading

Josefa, Monday, 20 July 2015 21:09 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

I just finished Perlstein's Before the Storm (which I would HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend to anyone trying to wrap their heads around current events), and one of my takeaways was 'wrong time, wrong place'. Goldwater was a proto-Trump at a time when the makeup of society was such that a Trumpian figure could only go so far. The gist being that it isn't the power-hungry imbecile that's the problem but rather the extent to which society will permit a power-hungry imbecile to take the reins. We're carved up into extremist tribes with frighteningly little middle ground (another takeaway from the book was surprise at the amount of vocal Republican opposition after Goldwater secured the nomination, although granted this was the modern iteration of the GOP just taking its baby steps), so the time was ripe.

― Break the meat into the pineapples and pat them (Old Lunch), Wednesday, April 12, 2017 11:57 PM

He just wrote a piece for the NYT Mag dealing with historians' (incl his) myopia about Trumpism as a successor to a long vein of righty extremism in the American 'mainstream' -- the Second KKK, the backlash to the '60s counterculture and civil rights, etc.

The Bund took a mortal hit (in 1939) — its leader was caught embezzling — but the Christian Front soldiered on. In 1940, a New York chapter was raided by the F.B.I. for plotting to overthrow the government. The organization survived, and throughout World War II carried out what the New York Yiddish paper The Day called “small pogroms” in Boston and New York that left Jews in “mortal fear” of “almost daily” beatings. Victims who complained to authorities, according to news reports, were “insulted and beaten again.” Young Irish-Catholic men inspired by the Christian Front desecrated nearly every synagogue in Washington Heights. The New York Catholic hierarchy, the mayor of Boston and the governor of Massachusetts largely looked the other way....

Trump’s connection to this alternate right-wing genealogy is not just rhetorical. In 1927, 1,000 hooded Klansmen fought police in Queens in what The Times reported as a “free for all.” One of those arrested at the scene was the president’s father, Fred Trump. (Trump’s role in the melee is unclear; the charge — “refusing to disperse” — was later dropped.) In the 1950s, Woody Guthrie, at the time a resident of the Beach Haven housing complex the elder Trump built near Coney Island, wrote a song about “Old Man Trump” and the “Racial hate/He stirred up/In the bloodpot of human hearts/When he drawed/That color line” in one of his housing developments. In 1973, when Donald Trump was working at Fred’s side, both father and son were named in a federal housing-discrimination suit. The family settled with the Justice Department in the face of evidence that black applicants were told units were not available even as whites were welcomed with open arms.

The 1960s and ’70s New York in which Donald Trump came of age, as much as Klan-ridden Indiana in the 1920s or Barry Goldwater’s Arizona in the 1950s, was at conservatism’s cutting edge, setting the emotional tone for a politics of rage. In 1966, when Trump was 20, Mayor John Lindsay placed civilians on a board to more effectively monitor police abuse. The president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association — responding, “I am sick and tired of giving in to minority groups and their gripes and their shouting” — led a referendum effort to dissolve the board that won 63 percent of the vote. Two years later, fights between supporters and protesters of George Wallace at a Madison Square Garden rally grew so violent that, The New Republic observed, “never again will you read about Berlin in the ’30s without remembering this wild confrontation here of two irrational forces.”


Supercreditor (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 19 April 2017 19:20 (four years ago) link

good article

I'm in the middle of The Invisible Bridge now, after finishing Nixonloand, and I agree with the comments upthread about how overwhelming Perlstein's endless concatenation of fragments can be; the arguments he's trying to support tend to be either obvious and repetitive or buried in the profusion of detail; but his method evokes the mood of those times in a powerful way. I'm not sure if it's more consoling or depressing to realize that the 1970s were at least as fucked up as the present day.

That NYT piece provides some good context for his books by acknowledging blind spots and drawing explicitly on the work of other historians to help define and fill in the gaps.

Brad C., Wednesday, 19 April 2017 20:38 (four years ago) link

i thought it'd have been interesting if he'd gone into the Carter administration a little bit, although for the story he was trying to tell the narrative climax was the 76 GOP primaries/convention. makes me wonder why he bothered to go into detail about Carter and the Democratic primaries though, then

global tetrahedron, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 20:46 (four years ago) link

because he's foreshadowing his Reagan book?

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 19 April 2017 21:05 (four years ago) link

Carter's presidency still hasn't gotten the histories it deserves. The best is still Walter Karp's Liberty Under Siege, which argues that an untalented politician whose campaign seized a historical moment was unprepared for the waves of reaction emanating from establishment Washington, particularyl a House with daunting Democratic post-Watergate majorities.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 19 April 2017 21:07 (four years ago) link

the cultural-panorama sections in bridge are the weakest he's ever been -- endless "turn to page five, and a woman had hacked her kids to death -- it must have seemed the culture was spinning out of control" stuff. jefferson cowie's stayin alive gives better focus on the same period imo -- has a better analysis of jaws too. but i love the reagan-bio sections of bridge and its telling of watergate is a strong contender in a choked field.

his baffler piece from a few years ago about richard viguerie (sp?) and right-wing advertising culture was extremely good, as acknowledged by pareene the other day. suspect it will get cited in the future like it was in a journal.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 21:20 (four years ago) link

i find it very strange that the dude who wrote 3 fat tomes about American conservativism, including one about Goldwater, who constantly got compared to Trump during the campaign, and who many people have said "you've GOT to read Perlstein if you want to understand our present moment", would choose this time to issue a mea culpa saying he doesn't understand Trump and you won't find the answer in my books. like, dude. sell your shit!

flopson, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 21:23 (four years ago) link

"i spent two decades researching and writing almost three thousand pages about contemporary conservatism. But reading them won't help you understand this Trump fellow one lick, he really came out of left field." how do you not kill yourself after writing that?

flopson, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 21:26 (four years ago) link

Our old friend miccio, who hasn't read any of Perlstein's books, got into a FB discussion w/me a couple weeks ago based on that very point, i.e. "if this guy is so smart, how can he not have predicted this?"

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 19 April 2017 21:28 (four years ago) link

My only response, a feeble one, is that the NYT magazine is not The New Republic or The Nation -- he has to write these rehashes and mea culpas.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 19 April 2017 21:29 (four years ago) link

yeah i didn't get that piece. if there's one major takeaway from his whole series so far it's that the liberal_commentariat keeps saying this stuff is done forever right before it comes back to crush them. he doesn't mention that at all now which i guess is very gracious.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 21:29 (four years ago) link

funny that the piece was online the same week as pareene's "confused about trump? read this four-year-old rick perlstein article"

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 21:30 (four years ago) link

Why are historians supposed to be great prognosticators? I would never assume that. Peoples is not meteorology

Anyway absent few thousand votes and the flukiness of the electoral college, Trump isn't Perlstein's to have to explain, is he?

The Jams Manager (1992, Brickster) (El Tomboto), Wednesday, 19 April 2017 22:04 (four years ago) link

Agreed, but historians don't have to and shouldn't have to write these mea culpas, but I get that the NYT Magazine probably pays quite well.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 19 April 2017 22:11 (four years ago) link

Thanks for the heads up on that article, Morbs. I'd just about tossed last weekend's paper.

I wouldn't say I'd have expected Perlstein to predict the Trump phenomenon specifically, but he ended Before the Storm on such a pointed note of anti-Goldwater peeps thanking their lucky stars that right-wing extremism died alongside Barry's candidacy that I would have at least expected him to see the signs of liberal hubris that wenteth before our fall.

Lipbra Geraldoman (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 19 April 2017 22:53 (four years ago) link

Or what dlh just said, basically.

Lipbra Geraldoman (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 19 April 2017 22:54 (four years ago) link

Perlstein was actually more prescient than many, at least once the Trump train got rolling. From September 2015:

Reagan, and now Trump, reveal our own tendency to repress our fear of demagogues by dismissing them. And ultimately, it's all about us. Follow the bouncing beach ball. Take demagogues seriously. Voters love them. And they're only a joke until they win.

Ari (whenuweremine), Wednesday, 19 April 2017 23:41 (four years ago) link

reagan and nixon both have a lot more to do w trump than goldwater does, even tho the goldwater campaign was where a lot of now-apotheosized technique was born. this--

Goldwater, who constantly got compared to Trump during the campaign

--is true but there was a lotta wishful thinking in it.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 23:50 (four years ago) link

("technique" admittedly covering a lot there including the beginnings of the southern realignment -- but goldwater himself wasn't a ball of insecurity and rage nor a weird half-there monarchical cypher, whereas trump is both and also an idiot)

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 23:54 (four years ago) link

(and a winner)

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 23:55 (four years ago) link

I rewatched Game Change the other night. I know that's got nothing to do with Perlstein, but it's relevant to what you're talking about. This one exchange, between Palin and Steve Schmidt, was (apocryphal or not) made to order.

Schmidt: “You can't say you were cleared of all wrongdoing.”
Palin: “Why not?”
Schmidt: “Because you weren't. The report stated that you abused your power. That is the opposite of being cleared of all wrongdoing.”
Palin: “Then why was I told otherwise?”
Schmidt: “You weren't told otherwise.”
Palin: “And why haven't you released a statement saying that Todd was never a member of the Alaska independence party?”
Schmidt: “Because that would be untrue. He was a member.”
Palin: “He checked the wrong box. He registered by accident, and rectified the error immediately.”
Schmidt: “He was a member for seven years!”

clemenza, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 23:59 (four years ago) link

palin def a prophet of rage and aesthetic liar in the way trump, reagan, nixon all in their own ways were and goldwater didn't rly know how to be -- she now seems happy as just a plain grifter tho. trump prob would have been too.

difficult listening hour, Thursday, 20 April 2017 00:05 (four years ago) link

Agreed, but historians don't have to and shouldn't have to write these mea culpas, but I get that the NYT Magazine probably pays quite well.

― the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, April 19, 2017 10:11 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I think every media outlet in the world was trying to get him to opine during and after the election and he didn't seem super comfortable about it in the handful of articles he wrote in a response.. Was probably trying to wrap his head around it all.

officer sonny bonds, lytton pd (mayor jingleberries), Thursday, 20 April 2017 00:11 (four years ago) link


one of the worst things ever written

flopson, Friday, 21 April 2017 19:05 (four years ago) link

This framing fits with Perlstein’s model of political change as the cultural-cum-psychohistory of how the mental idiosyncrasies of particular leaders interact with the public’s irrationality and innate conservatism.

this seems like a 180 degrees misread. (although i have only read the Goldwater book). the Perlstein thesis is that it's all about the sociopolitical forces and the guys doing the backroom deals and organizing and NOT about the leaders!

flopson, Friday, 21 April 2017 19:06 (four years ago) link

no article titled "Trump's Predictable Rise" should be getting submitted from anywhere but the private island you purchased after betting on his victory.

evol j, Friday, 21 April 2017 19:13 (four years ago) link

if the nyt essay were the only thing i'd read by perlstein i'd agree w that piece. it didn't make any sense.

perlstein's historiography isn't as great-man as it could be but it's also not exactly movement history; its way of finding out what was happening in the country any given week is to read all the papers, not to interview anyone for 100 hours the way caro or branch do. nixonland in particular is v interested in how nixon's particular personality interacted w the country's particular wounds, as is perlstein's reagan work. the books really are a little topheavy and the shallowness of the headline-scanning in bridge made that one more so.

however he makes plenty clear in all three books that "intellectual conservatism" was always symbiotic with another thing and that nixon and reagan's success vs goldwater's failure had a lot to do w their relationship to that thing. like you the other day i was confused to find him claiming to have missed that and if his new position really is "trump is radically new" he is wrong.

difficult listening hour, Friday, 21 April 2017 19:21 (four years ago) link

(also agree w the jacobin piece that perlstein is not very interested in economic history and that this hampers his approach to the 70s in partic)

difficult listening hour, Friday, 21 April 2017 19:30 (four years ago) link

haven't read Nixonland but i believe that (Jefferson Cowies book had same problem) but the economics of the 70s are hard and imo left never really grappled w them (in both USA and europe)

flopson, Friday, 21 April 2017 19:39 (four years ago) link

cowie book at least was immersed in the politics of economics, changing relationships between loci of power in labor+business, changing nature of union management and union membership, etc -- doesn't give you any ideas about how to construct a revised keynesianism for the 70s, but fills in the, ah, disposition of forces around the 72 election in a way that perlstein doesn't

agree that the economic left (not unanimously -- cowie book has some painfully forward-thinking quotes in it from defeated and forgotten steelworker reps) lost the plot in the 70s, and after being backfooted by an all-out political assault from organized capital never really did go back and find it. no time like the present tho

difficult listening hour, Friday, 21 April 2017 19:56 (four years ago) link

hell I still don't get stagflation, so if Perlstein can't...

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 21 April 2017 20:28 (four years ago) link

Ya right got possession on the fumble of stagflation and haven't stopped running. there was some interesting stuff in Cowie about Nixon and Carters halfhearted / ineffective attempts at economic planning necessary for their Full Employment policies, but im not sure he's the right person to tell it. I'm a big fan of Barry Eichengreen's The European Economy Since 1945 which lays bare all the pitfalls and potential of 'coordinated capitalism' but someone needs to write (1) a response from the left and (2) an equivalent book for America (BE does some comparatives but not much)

flopson, Friday, 21 April 2017 20:36 (four years ago) link

(not that Eichengreen is of the Right but i want to read someone to his left)

flopson, Friday, 21 April 2017 20:41 (four years ago) link

agree with the ppl who said that times article was bizarre. the article was just a rehash of things i first learned from his own books, with him saying that it was all new to him.

Treeship, Saturday, 22 April 2017 18:24 (four years ago) link

Our old friend miccio, who hasn't read any of Perlstein's books, got into a FB discussion w/me a couple weeks ago based on that very point, i.e. "if this guy is so smart, how can he not have predicted this?"

this misstates my beef with the piece quite a bit. he ends sayingFuture historians won’t find all that much of a foundation for Trumpism in the grim essays of William F. Buckley, the scrupulous constitutionalist principles of Barry Goldwater or the bright-eyed optimism of Ronald Reagan. They’ll need instead to study conservative history’s political surrealists and intellectual embarrassments, its con artists and tribunes of white rage. what i don't get is how an allegedly astute writer could put buckley, goldwater and reagan on one side and "political surrealists," "intellectual embarrassments," "con artists" and "tribunes of white rage" on the other.

da croupier, Monday, 24 April 2017 23:20 (four years ago) link

i never suggested it's weird he couldn't predict president trump. all you needed to not predict that is optimism.

da croupier, Monday, 24 April 2017 23:23 (four years ago) link

Before the Storm is still my favourite, the one where I knew the least going in (and I read it during the 2008 election, which was perfect).

clemenza, Monday, 26 October 2020 03:27 (eleven months ago) link

i read nixonland then before the storm. i don't think i missed out on much by not reading them in order, but i'm going to read the other two in order because why not.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Monday, 26 October 2020 03:39 (eleven months ago) link

three weeks pass...

A couple of hundred pages into Reaganland. I like how Perlstein will often work today back into the story: in early '78, "young Joseph Biden of Delaware" pays a visit to Carter to tell him that Jewish leaders distrust him because he's a Baptist, that Democrats in congress don't like Hamilton Jordan, and that Ted Kennedy is taking steps towards running for the nomination in 1980.

clemenza, Thursday, 19 November 2020 03:35 (eleven months ago) link

I finished the book. It's like a long slow-motion trainwreck, which actually left me kind of depressed. He does a good job of showing why Reagan was elected, but the anti-ERA and anti-gay rhetoric of the 1977-78 period that he recounts in detail, and then the evangelical resurgence that followed made me despair for any hopes I ever attributed to my country. You can clearly see, nostalgia aside, that the US has been a doomed hate cult since the mid '70s.

Josefa, Thursday, 19 November 2020 03:47 (eleven months ago) link

Long slow-motion trainwreck is good description of the '70s in general--producing lots of great movies and music along the way.

clemenza, Thursday, 19 November 2020 03:49 (eleven months ago) link

Reading it in one sustained gulp in August also depressed me, especially learning (again and again) the incompetence of Carter's political shop.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 19 November 2020 03:57 (eleven months ago) link

I somehow made it through the first two volumes of Perlstein's GOPocalypse quadrilogy without walking in front of a bus but I really need to wait for the impending repub interregnum before I even think about tackling the next two.

You will notice a small sink where your sofa once was. (Old Lunch), Thursday, 19 November 2020 04:04 (eleven months ago) link

xp Yeah, I remember a lot of Carter's blundering (I was 12 in 1980) but reading the full scope of it just makes you shake your head over and over. I remember seeing the morning paper and experiencing the mild shock that Reagan had won. In hindsight it seems inevitable. I think we all want to locate a period of time in our youth when the world seemed more rational, but I can no longer think of the late '70s that way, because it was full of so much ugliness.

Josefa, Thursday, 19 November 2020 04:19 (eleven months ago) link

felt it was the weakest (title previously held by the last one): picks up where invisible bridge left off and just bores forward four years at a perfectly even pace of newspaper-reading and broadcast-transcribing. before the storm and nixonland were structured around theses (goldwater as john the baptist; nixon as architect-avatar of our current party system and political psyche); invisible bridge has excellent stuff on pre-politics reagan— def better than the morris bio altho there’s prob a book or twelve on hollywood reagan specifically that i’d like to read— but the 70s sections already seemed swollen to me, so much re-re-re-demonstrating in creeping chronological order that people were rly freaked out. this one is that basically unbrokenly and the returns have diminished, tho i did enjoy hating carter. (no idea why it’s called reaganland btw; it’s about carter.) nb i’m not saying i put it down for three straight days. my hand cramped up.

difficult listening hour, Thursday, 19 November 2020 04:35 (eleven months ago) link

I've read them all and I got the distinct impression that in this last one Perlstein made an effort to downplay the broad cultural reporting/analysis and zeitgeisty stuff whenever it didn't have a direct influence on the political narrative; likewise the recounting of natural disasters and crimes and accidents which made up a perhaps too large part of Invisible Bridge. I'm sure he was criticized in book reviews for including too much of that. Leaving most of that out of this book was probably "correct," but it results in a more boring book.

Josefa, Thursday, 19 November 2020 05:03 (eleven months ago) link

I got Reaganland on audiobook for a change of pace and the narrator is not helping things, just incredibly boring.

onlyfans.com/hunterb (milo z), Thursday, 19 November 2020 05:50 (eleven months ago) link

it's a shame because the readers for Nixonland and The Invisible Bridge audiobooks were excellent, this one is not good!

calzino, Thursday, 19 November 2020 08:40 (eleven months ago) link

I can still live with it though, it could be worse.

calzino, Thursday, 19 November 2020 08:56 (eleven months ago) link

As someone who has recently had to start wearing varifocals and was considering the audiobook route for this (also: cheaper), I am disappointed by this news.

Worst audiobook I've ever listened to was Debbie Harry's autobiog. She sounded bored as fuck, and my 6 year old is a more expressive and fluent reader (my 6 year old is fucking ace tbh).

I lugged my copy of Nixonland with me while commuting all over London for the 6 months or so I was reading it. The first half of it solidified to a brick of mulch after I left a non-waterproof rucksack in a pond of cider at a Hawkwind gig; luckily, I'd already read further than that by then.

Change Display Name: (stevie), Thursday, 19 November 2020 09:14 (eleven months ago) link

for people that can't afford subscriptions or wanting to try before you buy, audiobookbay.nl could be your friend.

calzino, Thursday, 19 November 2020 09:28 (eleven months ago) link

cheers calzino, will check it out

Change Display Name: (stevie), Thursday, 19 November 2020 09:35 (eleven months ago) link

Plugging away...Wow: the first president angry enough at the press to skip the correspondents dinner wasn't the obvious, it was Carter in '78. He sent Hamilton Jordan instead, charged with "(telling) them how we feel about them."

clemenza, Wednesday, 2 December 2020 02:05 (ten months ago) link

one month passes...

hi nerds

just started Before the Storm so i guess i can start coming to the meetings now


terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 21 January 2021 05:01 (eight months ago) link

I think this was already shared somewhere on a politics thread but it's worth the read:


Wayne Grotski (symsymsym), Thursday, 21 January 2021 05:20 (eight months ago) link

So many community organizational skills you can learn from those John Birchers in Before The Storm...

...Which they of course stole from the Communists.

pplains, Thursday, 21 January 2021 14:08 (eight months ago) link

sorry to spoil the series for you but the good guys win

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Thursday, 21 January 2021 14:30 (eight months ago) link

hi nerds

just started Before the Storm so i guess i can start coming to the meetings now


― terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, January 20, 2021 11:01 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

Cool, let us know when you get to the part when Palpatine issues Order 66.

Once I feel like I've processed some of the trauma of the past four years, I suppose I will finally dive into the second two volumes.

Vladislav Bibidonurtmi (Old Lunch), Thursday, 21 January 2021 14:38 (eight months ago) link

I'm still plodding along on Reaganland two months later, usually opting to read other stuff. It's thorough, but I find he doesn't do as much of what I really liked with the last two, which is to take a page or two and write about The Exorcist or Nashville or whatever. It feels like a lot of community organizing (tax revolts, religious right, etc.) and the minutiae of legislation.

clemenza, Thursday, 21 January 2021 15:07 (eight months ago) link

the revolution begins in Hollywood and ends in hotel conference rooms

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Thursday, 21 January 2021 15:45 (eight months ago) link

one month passes...

A month later, and up to about pg. 600, I'm finally starting to warm to Reaganland: Three Mile Island and The China Syndrome, Carter taking off for Japan in the midst of gas lines and a massive trucker's strike (very similar to yesterday's headlines; at least he didn't blame Amy), the Comiskey Park debacle, and now he's just about to give the Malaise Speech, which Mondale and others are desperately trying to talk him out of. I find that speech endlessly fascinating, especially how it's used in 20th Century Women. I was about three months away from turning 18 and have no recollection of the speech or attendant controversy at all.

clemenza, Sunday, 21 February 2021 00:13 (seven months ago) link


clemenza, Sunday, 21 February 2021 00:20 (seven months ago) link

The malaise ("Crisis of Confidence") speech actually gave Carter a huge polling bump right away--17 and 11 points in a couple of polls Perlstein cites. But then he upended his cabinet (not expecting the speech to be so successful, that had already been planned), and Hamilton Jordan's Studio 54 coke scandal broke. Which turned out to be concocted by Steve Rubell as leverage against an impending tax audit.

I'm trying to remember if that was the last front-page celebrity scandal that turned out to be entirely false. Can't be--that's 40 years ago--but I'm drawing a blank. They all turn out to be true (or at least are denied but never disproven).

clemenza, Sunday, 21 February 2021 21:46 (seven months ago) link

Perlstein says the paperback edition is ready and it will be free of the shocking number of typos and errors that are in the hardcover. That is something I found very distracting and mean to complain about here.

Josefa, Sunday, 21 February 2021 23:14 (seven months ago) link

*meant to

Josefa, Sunday, 21 February 2021 23:14 (seven months ago) link

I've noticed a few. I wouldn't say shocking--six or seven (in 600 pages)?--but maybe I've missed some. Having self-published and let mistakes creep in (favourite ever: mixing up Jack Black/White three or four times), it actually gives me some comfort that a big publisher would do the same.

clemenza, Sunday, 21 February 2021 23:45 (seven months ago) link

I dunno, I started counting them and the number got really high. I would have gladly proofread the book for him for some modest fee, say $300.

Josefa, Sunday, 21 February 2021 23:57 (seven months ago) link

That's the surprising thing, that there's even one or two. It's Simon & Schuster--you'd think they'd have a small team on such a lengthy book.

clemenza, Monday, 22 February 2021 00:08 (seven months ago) link

the paperback edition is ready

Kinda hoping the publisher will box all four up into a set. I've read Nixonland, but none of the others, and I'd absolutely buy that.

but also fuck you (unperson), Monday, 22 February 2021 00:25 (seven months ago) link

in my very very very short resume as a published historian, i have already had a couple moments of getting copy-edited pre-final proofs sent to me and only at that phase, me noticing crazy errors like "the the." this is not because the editors were bad, just a matter of them being human imho. i'm the one that sent them the crummy text in the first place and probably they burned out fixing 99 other mistakes and missed the 1.

i also have to assume (I have no real idea) that in this day and age of print media, budgets for things like this have probably been pared back - would not surprise me if one editor is now doing the work that formerly would have been three people's. i'm just grateful they caught the other 99 mistakes and gave me the chance to catch the 1! but if i ever have anything out there as long as perlstein's books, i'd be shocked NOT to find some typos!

honkin' on bobo, honkin' with my feet ten feet off of beale (Doctor Casino), Monday, 22 February 2021 14:15 (seven months ago) link

One that made me laugh (not a typo): a reference to "the forty-year-old president of Canada" on page 668.

clemenza, Monday, 1 March 2021 17:17 (seven months ago) link

Pg. 756; the darkness at the end of the tunnel is visible...In view of what Obama and Biden inherited, this Irving Kristol quote from 1980 that Perlstein digs up resonates: "The neo-conservative is willing to leave those problems* to be coped with by liberal interregnums. He wants to shape the future and will leave it to his opponents to tidy up afterwards."

*created by forcing through tax cuts

clemenza, Wednesday, 10 March 2021 17:38 (seven months ago) link

i haven't read this yet but he has a new piece in TNR https://newrepublic.com/article/161603/john-birch-society-qanon-trump

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Wednesday, 10 March 2021 19:10 (seven months ago) link


𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Wednesday, 10 March 2021 19:10 (seven months ago) link

Weird endorsement for Kennedy in 1980: the parents of Mary Jo Kopechne. (Would you want the reminder?) Senator Biden endorsed Carter with, Perlstein notes, "practically an apology":

"Jimmy Carter is not the finest thing since wheat cakes; he's not the second coming...He's not going to go down in the history books...but he is doing a good job."

clemenza, Wednesday, 10 March 2021 23:45 (seven months ago) link

Today in REAGANLAND, an ambitious difference-splitter "endorses" Jimmy Carter, " not the finest thing since wheat cakes...not the 2nd coming...but...doing a good job." Tho, "If you're looking for an Irish Catholic Democrat to support, wait until 1984 and one of us will be back." pic.twitter.com/8E2vYNRgRA

— Rick Perlstein (@rickperlstein) April 22, 2020

Wayne Grotski (symsymsym), Wednesday, 10 March 2021 23:48 (seven months ago) link

Biden, on the other hand, is definitely the finest thing since wheat cakes

Wayne Grotski (symsymsym), Wednesday, 10 March 2021 23:49 (seven months ago) link

The Kopechne endorsement almost struck me like Hillary getting Monica Lewinsky's endorsement in 2016.

clemenza, Wednesday, 10 March 2021 23:52 (seven months ago) link

Eh, by that point, it was probably just water under the bridge.

pplains, Thursday, 11 March 2021 04:05 (seven months ago) link

I checked with Alan Alda, and he said it's okay if I laugh.

clemenza, Thursday, 11 March 2021 04:08 (seven months ago) link

Finished Nixonland.

Boy, does that book go up a notch once Nixon begins recording his conversations.

pplains, Tuesday, 23 March 2021 01:00 (six months ago) link

Finished. (Reaganland). Exhausted. Possibly the longest book I've ever read.

clemenza, Saturday, 27 March 2021 16:09 (six months ago) link

I thought it a breeze -- I gobbled it. Did it bore you?

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 27 March 2021 16:59 (six months ago) link

At times, yes--when he waded into stuff like Moral Majority meetings, or anti-tax amendments and such. I found there was much more of that than in the previous three books. I like it best when he steps back and connects what's going on politically to the culture out there. And there was some of that--like how Reagan's defense of the Vietnam War was initially assumed to be catastrophic by the press, but that meanwhile they completely missed that The Deer Hunter was indicating something else was plainly underfoot.

clemenza, Saturday, 27 March 2021 17:03 (six months ago) link

Yeah. I loved those bits.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 27 March 2021 18:18 (six months ago) link

six months pass...

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