On the Road to Reaganland (w/ Rick Perlstein and Leon Neyfakh)
Matt and Sam talk to _two_ esteemed guests, Rick Perlstein and Leon Neyfakh, about why U.S. politics took a right turn in the 1970s. “We organize discontent,” as one New Right activist put it—and they did. Fierce battles over desegregation, gay rights, abortion, and the meaning of America itself all paved the way for Ronald Reagan's smashing victory in 1980.
Over four books and two decades, historian Rick Perlstein has chronicled the rise of movement conservatism in America, starting with its renegade beginnings in the 1950s and '60s. Now, with _Reaganland__ _(2020), his extraordinary tetralogy is complete—taking readers on a journey through Jimmy Carter's doomed administration, the culture wars of the 1970s, and Ronald Reagan's campaign for the presidency. Perlstein's sweeping narrative is paired in this episode by the brilliant work of journalist Leon Neyfakh, who just finished the third season of his podcast _Fiasco_. It's a deep-dive into the battle over integration in Boston public schools during the 1970s (colloquially but inaccurately known as the Boston "busing crisis")—a vivid and compulsively listenable portrait of a pivotal episode in recent American history.
In this conversation, Rick and Leon disinter forgotten figures from a decade crucial to the rise of conservatism—the 1970s—while discussing how they tell stories we know the ending to, the problem of contingency and political agency, and issues such as white backlash, right-wing rhetoric, and more. Don't miss this one!
Rick Perlstein, "I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong," _NYTimes, _ April 11, 2017
Richard Sennett & Jonathan Cobb,_ __The Hidden Injuries of Class__, _(1972)
Jesse Curtis, "'Will the Jungle Take Over?' National Review and the Defense of Western Civilization in the Era of Civil Rights and African Decolonization," _Journal of American Studies, _November 2019
Jefferson Cowie, "Is Freedom White?" _Boston Review_, Sept 23, 2020
Tom Wicker, _One of Us: Richard Nixon and the American Dream_ (1995)
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