Rick Perlsteiun, a former graduate student of the Department of American Culture and author of the 2008 bestseller Nixonland, released his latest book, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Regan. Published this August by Simon and Schuster, the book's release coincides with the fortieth anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation as President of the United States.
The Invisible Bridge is the third volume in Perlstein’s acclaimed political history of conservatism in America, which began in 2001 with Before the Storm, about Barry Goldwater and the election of 1964, and continued with Nixonland. Perlstein has been called the "chronicler extraordinaire of American conservatism" by Politico and the "hypercaffeinated Herodotus of the American century" by The Nation.
The Invisible Bridge will open in January 1973, when President Nixon announced the end of the Vietnam War and prepared for a triumphant second term. But soon the televised Watergate hearings revealed his White House as little better than a mafia den. Following Nixon’s resignation, his successor, Gerald Ford, declared “our long national nightmare is over”—but then congressional investigators exposed the CIA for assassinating foreign leaders. The collapse of the South Vietnamese government rendered moot the sacrifice of some 58,000 American lives. The economy was in tatters. Americans began thinking about their nation in a new way: as one more nation among nations, no more providential than any other. Pundits declared that from now on successful politicians would be the ones who honored this chastened new national mood.
Perlstein’s nuanced portrait of Ronald Reagan will show that the former actor and Governor of California never accepted that vision of America. When Reagan announced his intention to challenge Ford for the 1976 Republication nomination, those same pundits dismissed him—until it began to look as if he just might win. Reagan was inventing the new conservative political culture we now know, which derailed a once-ascendant vision of patriotism rooted in a sense of American limits. Set amidst the tumultuous political and economic times of the 1970s, The Invisible Bridge will pose the question: What does it mean to believe in America?
Press release courtesy of Simon and Schuster.