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Author: Robert Collins
ISBN: 0231124007
Subcategory: Business & Finance
Pages 320 pages
Publisher Columbia University Press (November 28, 2006)
Language English
Category: Other
Rating: 4.7
Votes: 295
ePUB size: 1568 kb
FB2 size: 1839 kb
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eBook Transforming America: Politics and Culture During the Reagan Years download

by Robert Collins


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Author: Robert Collins. Entertaining and erudite, Transforming America explores the events, movements, and ideas that profoundly changed American culture and politics during an important decade. Title: Transforming America: Politics and Culture During the Reagan Years. No user reports were added yet. Be the first! Send report: This is a good book.

John Matlin American Studies).

Nicholas Wapshott New York Sun). John Matlin American Studies). Collins often oversimplifies; I thought his discussion of the culture wars and of postmodernism were very interesting, but it is too focused on the conflicts between Left and Right elites. I liked his discussion of Reagan on issues such as Aids were Reagan is unfairly demonized.

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Transforming America book

Transforming America book. Collins demonstrates how Reagan's policies helped to limit the scope of government, control inflation, reduce the threat of nuclear war, and defeat communism. Collins also shows how the simultaneous ascendancy of the right in politics and the left in culture created a divisive legacy.

In Transforming America, renowned historian Robert Collins examines the decade's critical and controversial developments and the unmistakable influence of Ronald Reagan. Moving beyond conventional depictions that either demonize or sanctify Reagan, Collins offers fresh insights into his thought and influence. He portrays Reagan as a complex political figure who combined ideological conservatism with political pragmatism to achieve many of his policy aims.

Latin America, history of - Introduction history of the region from the pre Columbian period and including colonization by the Spanish and Portuguese beginning in the 15th century, the 19th century wars of independence, and developments to the end of World War I.Universalium. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, country in N. America. This article is arranged according to the following outline: introduction Colonial Era, 1654–1776 Early National Period, 1776–1820 German Jewish Period, 1820–1880 East European Jewish Period. Encyclopedia of Judaism.

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By the end of the 1980s, the "malaise" that had once pervaded American society was replaced by a renewed sense of confidence and national purpose. However, beneath this veneer of optimism was a nation confronting the effects of massive federal deficits, a reckless foreign policy, AIDS, homelessness, and a growing "cultural war." In Transforming America, renowned historian Robert Collins examines the decade's critical and controversial developments and the unmistakable influence of Ronald Reagan. Moving beyond conventional depictions that either demonize or sanctify Reagan, Collins offers fresh insights into his thought and influence. He portrays Reagan as a complex political figure who combined ideological conservatism with political pragmatism to achieve many of his policy aims. Collins demonstrates how Reagan's policies helped to limit the scope of government, control inflation, reduce the threat of nuclear war, and defeat communism. Collins also shows how the simultaneous ascendancy of the right in politics and the left in culture created a divisive legacy. The 1980s witnessed other changes, including the advent of the personal computer, a revolution in information technology, a more globalized national economy, and a restructuring of the American corporation. In the realm of culture, the creation of MTV, the popularity of self-help gurus, and the rise of postmodernism in American universities were the realization of the cultural shifts of the postwar era. These developments, Collins suggests, created a conflict in American society that continues today, pitting cultural conservatism against a secular and multicultural view of the world.Entertaining and erudite, Transforming America explores the events, movements, and ideas that defined a turbulent decade and profoundly changed the shape and direction of American culture and politics.
Gavirus
"Transforming America" is a hit and miss survey of the eighties. Virtually anything positive that happened in the eighties is attributed in some way or another to Reagan, whereas anything that went wrong was either the result of Reagan being too optimistic, or because of "nettlesome complexity." At times this is borderline disingenuous; for instance, in his discussion of the undeniable rise in inequality since the eighties, he says that "all industrialized nations experienced a similar increase in wage inequality in the 1980s and 1990s." Yes, every nation experienced rising inequality in the eighties and nineties, but nowhere near as much as the rise of inequality in the United States and the United Kingdom. This could have been an interesting discussion as to why the growth in inequality was so much greater in the US and UK, but he resorts to the typical unsatisfactory explanations of shifts in the global economy and technology. However, it is not the high tech workers that have seen the gains (although they have seen decent gains), it is managers and executives that have seen almost all the gains. The rises in inequality are primarily due to these factors in this order:

1. Extraordinary growth in the financial sector, mainly due to deregulation.
2. Extraordinary growth in CEO and executive compensation (from 26 times average worker salary in 1970 to 300 times today), mainly due to the destruction of the working classes, as well as the ability of CEOs to set their own compensation.
3. Rapid rise in Healthcare spending, due to protectionism for doctors, and the nature of private sector health insurance where there are perverse incentives (people who actually need insurance are naturally seen as costs).
4. The destruction of Unions due to anti-Union government policies (chronic understaffing of the national labor board, "Right to Work" laws, prohibition of secondary strikes, etc).
5. A less progressive tax system
6. Globalization and an increasingly high tech economy.

In extolling the wondrous economic growth of the eighties, Collins fails to mention that the levels of unemployment for almost the entire decade would have been considered recession levels in previous decades. Indeed, the tranquil growth of the eighties and nineties was built on the destruction of the working classes. A lot of the reasons he credits Reagan for the prosperity of the eighties and nineties--fiscal, deregulatory, and antitrust policies--were all started under Carter. In fact, most of the major changes attributed to the eighties, from the computer revolution to deregulation, began in the 1970s. Productivity growth, at 1.5% a year, was only slightly better than the 1.1% productivity growth of the seventies, and much worse than the 2.8% of the fifties and sixties. Perhaps Reagan laid the ground work for the better productivity growth of the nineties and 00s, but Collin's case is not very compelling and is much better explained by demographics (baby boomers reaching peak productivity years). Some of his claims, such as "Reagan's holding steady of the federal government's share of national economic activity" are laughable; federal government spending under Reagan overall was the highest in the post-World War II era at about 23% of GDP (compared to 16-18% of GDP during the fifties, sixties and seventies and 19% of GDP during the nineties and 2000s). Overall, his discussion of economics is just very weak and starry-eyed.

On ending the Cold War I think Collins repeats right wing shibboleths. The myth is that though the Soviet Union was a house of cards, Reagan, unlike the left, recognized that the Soviet Union was more bark than bite. Policies that were ridiculed, such as the SDI, compelled the Soviet's to ramp up military spending, accelerating their economic decline. This is simply not verified by the data. Soviet military spending stagnated in the eighties and showed no signs of responding to American military buildup. Reagan ramped up military spending for nothing.

Reagan also seems to have reversed Americas descent into pessimism, although that may be another issue of inequality--while the outlook of the rich and middle classes probably improved dramatically, it is doubtfully that the millions of long-term unemployed and workers with declining purchasing and market power felt much better about the future. Reagan also irresponsibly eschewed comprehensive energy policy, something we desperately need and still don't have.

Collins often oversimplifies; I thought his discussion of the culture wars and of postmodernism were very interesting, but it is too focused on the conflicts between Left and Right elites. I liked his discussion of Reagan on issues such as Aids were Reagan is unfairly demonized. His discussion on social problems was probably the most thorough, but even then some of his critiques are problematic. For instance, he notes that Reagan redirected money from public-housing projects to Section Eight housing allowances to help low-income people rent from private landlords. But as conservative economists like to say about education, if you give students 5,000 dollars for tuition, schools will just raise their prices by 5,000 dollars. How do I know that the same thing didn't happen with housing? Were these subsidies for private housing really beneficial to the poor, or were they just boons for landlords? Furthermore, was the fact that the number of new low-income tenants assisted by federal programs grew by 60% due to the generosity of the Reagan administration, or the fact that his policies inordinately placed the burden of beating inflation on the working poor? Collin's doesn't really go into it.

Collins also a tendency to make declarative statements--Friedman was right, Reagan's critics were wrong, Reagan was right, this analysis is wrong, etc, without following up with any discussion of the issue. Perhaps that is just the nature of a book with as broad of a scope as this one. Overall, this book left me hot and cold. It is clear that the author greatly admires Reagan, and even his criticisms of Reagan are usually obliquely complimentary (i.e. Reagan was just too damn optimistic). Nevertheless, the author does a decent job discussing all the major cultural, political, economic trends of the eighties, and about half of the time the analysis rises to the level of cogency. If I was grading this book, I'd give it a B-.
Iraraeal
It came fast and was as described! Looking forward to buying from you again! Thank you!
Wel
Depending upon to whom you are speaking Ronald Reagan was either the closest thing we've had to a saint, or perhaps the Devil incarnate. I have long held that you don't really begin to understand a time or a presidency until the history books get written. And this book is an excellent example.

As the author says in his introduction, he has sought to take seriously the historian's obligation to rise out of [his own views] to see what all sides thought they were up to. Those whose view matches that of Tom Clancy, who dedicated one of his books to Reagan as 'the man who won the war,' will find plenty to support his view. Those who prefer to look at Iran-Contra or the lack of funding for AIDS research will likewise find points to justify their view.

It seemed to me that Reagan was the first president to be considered inconsequential, a tool of the people around him. Instead Dr. Collins finds Reagan one of the most consequential and successful presidents of the modern era. I believe he is correct. For better or worse, the Reagan years accompanied masive changes in the political and cultural structure of our country. Dr. Collins has written an excellent chronicle of those years.