The Other Eighties by Bradford Martin

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In this engaging new book, Bradford Martin illuminates a different 1980s than many remember—one whose history has been buried under the celebratory narrative of conservative ascendancy. Ronald Reagan looms large in most accounts of the period, encouraging Americans to renounce the activist and liberal politics of the 1960s and ‘70s and embrace the resurgent conservative wave. But a closer look reveals that a sizable swath of Americans strongly disapproved of Reagan’s policies throughout his presidency. With a weakened Democratic Party scurrying for the political center, many expressed their dissatisfaction outside electoral politics.  Unlike the civil rights and Vietnam era protesters, activists of the 1980s often found themselves on the defensive, struggling to preserve the hard-won victories of the previous era. Their successes, then, were not in ushering in a new era of progressive reforms but in effecting change in areas from professional life to popular culture, while beating back an even more forceful political shift to the right. Martin paints an indelible portrait of these and other influential, but often overlooked, movements: from on-the-ground efforts to constrain the administration’s aggressive Latin American policy and stave off a possible Nicaraguan war, to mock shanties constructed on college campuses to shed light on corporate America’s role in supporting the apartheid regime in South Africa. The result is a clearer, richer perspective on a turbulent decade in American life.

About Bradford Martin

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Bradford Martin is an associate professor of history at Bryant University in Rhode Island. He is the author of The Theater Is in the Street: Politics and Performance in Sixties America.
Published March 1, 2011 by Hill and Wang. 272 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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The über-avuncular Ronald Reagan seems to be everyone's favorite president these days. For those who were there at the time, this brief history of the '80s serves as a reminder of a different man and mood.

Feb 22 2011 | Read Full Review of The Other Eighties

Publishers Weekly

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Martin, a history professor at Bryant University in Rhode Island, aims to get past reaganocentric views of the '80s by chronicling the efforts of the diminished but far from dead political left to m

Jan 10 2011 | Read Full Review of The Other Eighties

Book Forum

Is it possible to produce a useful political history of the 1980s while writing the decade's central political figure out of it?

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