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Fresh Air Interview: How Ronald Reagan Used An ‘Invisible Bridge’ To Win Over Americans

Between 1973 and 1976, Americans saw a president resign in disgrace, a calamitous end to the Vietnam War, gas lines at service stations, the financial collapse of New York City, two presidential assassination attempts, and the kidnapping of a publishing heiress by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Perlstein says Reagan spoke to Americans’ anxieties with a simple message about America’s inherent greatness — and became the leader of a potent political movement.

“[Reagan’s] ability to preach this liturgy of absolution in the midst of moral chaos … was the soul of his political appeal,” Perlstein tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies.

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