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Lurching towards collapse: The rise of Ronald Reagan’s America

A new book about the former President shows us what it felt like to live through the mid-1970s as an engaged, newspaper-reading American

By Matthew Wolfson  

Ronald Reagan poses with his horse in 1976. © /AP/Press Association Images

Ronald Reagan looms disconcertingly from the cover of Rick Perlstein’s new book. Reagan is campaigning in Illinois in 1976, feet on the bumpers of two boxy cars, smiling, arms outstretched, surrounded by men in suits and sunglasses. He looks like a religious icon: attractive and dangerous, interesting yet oddly repellent.

The question Perlstein wants to answer in The Invisible Bridge: the Fall of Nixon and…

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