In all honesty, how many informed analysts in the early 1980s believed that Soviet Communism would evaporate within a decade, or that Reagan’s confrontational nuclear policies would really lead to a massive reduction of global tensions? Yet Reagan believed these ridiculous things, and on both points, he was ridiculously right.
Troy’s readable book is impressive in its integration of political and social history, while he rightly recognizes that popular culture can provide an effective gauge of the public mood. Thus, he effectively uses the television series Hill Street Blues to illustrate attitudes towards crime and race, and throughout, he uses television, film, and popular music.
Troy is anything but a Reagan cheerleader, and he stresses the still contentious nature of the Reagan record. Apart from the obvious liberal critics, fiercely defensive “Reagan zealots” will challenge Troy’s balanced approach. As he dryly remarks, “Studying Ronald Reagan is not for the faint-hearted?or the untenured.” To the extent that he is being shot at from both sides, Troy thus emerges as impeccably fair-minded. —Philip Jenkins reviews Morning in America, by Gil Troy. —Who Invented the 1980s? (Christianity Today)