Shameless Attacks

Rick Perlstein, who I think wrote perhaps the best history book I have ever read, Nixonland, has a new book out about the rise of Reagan called The Invisible Bridge. Nixonland is essential reading, and I am reasonably sure that Invisible Bridge will be as well. However, since the topic is Saint Ronnie of Simi Valley, the usual suspects are very upset that some facts are being brought into the debate and chipping away at the carefully manufactured image Republicans have created, and the media is dancing to the tune of the wurlitzer:

Rick Perlstein always hoped his book on the rise of Ronald Reagan would set off serious debate among scholars and historians. Just not this debate.

Mr. Perlstein’s new 856-page book, “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan,” which comes out Tuesday, is proving to be almost as divisive as Reagan himself. It has drawn both strong reviews from prominent book critics, and sharp criticism from some scholars and commentators who accuse Mr. Perlstein of sloppy scholarship, improper attribution and plagiarism.

The most serious accusations come from a fellow Reagan historian, Craig Shirley, who said that Mr. Perlstein plagiarized several passages from Mr. Shirley’s 2004 book, “Reagan’s Revolution,” and used Mr. Shirley’s research numerous times without proper attribution.

In two letters to Mr. Perlstein’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, Mr. Shirley’s lawyer, Chris Ashby, cited 19 instances of duplicated language and inadequate attribution, and demanded $25 million in damages, a public apology, revised digital editions and the destruction of all physical copies of the book. Mr. Shirley said he has since tallied close to 50 instances where his work was used without credit.

Mr. Perlstein and his publisher said the charges are unfounded and noted that Mr. Perlstein cited Mr. Shirley’s book 125 times on his website, rickperlstein.net, where he posted his endnotes, which include thousands of citations and links to sources.

“The claim of plagiarism doesn’t fly; these are paraphrases,” Mr. Perlstein said in a phone interview. “I’m reverent toward my sources. History is a team sport, and references are how you support your teammates.”

Jonathan Karp, president and publisher of Simon & Schuster, called the plagiarism charges “ludicrous” and said the book was ”a meticulously researched work of scholarship.”

Mr. Perlstein, 44, suggested that the attack on his book is partly motivated by conservatives’ discomfort with his portrayal of Reagan. Mr. Shirley is president and chief executive of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, which represents conservative clients like Citizens United and Ann Coulter.

It’s just shameless smears. Personally, I would have put footnotes in both the book and online, but I haven’t written an 856 paged anything, so if you don’t mind, I’ll suggest that my opinion is worth about as much as it usually is. At any rate, Scott Lemieux edifies us on this ginned-up nontroversy:

Paraphrase with attribution is not plagiarism, and facts cannot be copyrighted. These are not complicated questions.

There are reasonable questions to be asked about the online-only endnotes of The Invisible Bridge, something that I’m guessing is going to be more common. My take is that the online source notes with links are, in themselves, an invaluable resource. Recognizing that resources are scarce, publishing serious works of history is generally a low-margin enterprise at best, etc., I would prefer all things being equal that they be supplements to traditional endnotes rather that replacements. As I’ve been working my way through the book there have been multiple times where I’ve wanted to look up a reference but haven’t been around a laptop. This is a question, however, that has nothing to do with scholarly integrity; online references are still references. And the specific campaign against Perlstein is plainly a political hit job.

Exactamundo. The puke funnel never stops.

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290 replies
  1. 1
    Mike G says:

    Gorilla dust — gin up a manufactured controversy to sully the book because it punctures the phony image they’ve manufactured around their saint.

    Which makes me even more interested in reading it.

  2. 2
    Violet says:

    Pearlstein is on Fresh Air today. Fascinating interview. Book sounds really great. Of course the wingnuts are smearing. He has desecrated their god.

  3. 3
    shelley says:

    and the destruction of all physical copies of the book.

    Jeez, and while you’re at it, why don’t you demand the nuking of Mr. Pearlstein’s hometown in retribution.

  4. 4
    MattF says:

    Perlstein is challenging right-wing control of narrative about Reagan, and that is the-thing-that-may-not-be-done. We can expect over-the-top outrage about this until… well, until the End of Time.

  5. 5
    Cervantes says:

    The most serious accusations come from a fellow Reagan historian, Craig Shirley

    Craig Shirley is a political fixer and a PR expert, not a historian.

    He does have an undergraduate degree in history.

  6. 6
    columbusqueen says:

    @Violet: Thank God he has–Reagan is the one whose policies wrecked our country. If I have to hear one more right wing hack talk about how wonderful Ronnie was, I’ll throw up (preferably all over said hack).

  7. 7
    NotMax says:

    Publishing the book without including the endnotes and attributions in the print edition is not a crime, but it is publishing an incomplete work. Shoddy practice, but not plagiarism.

    Taking it to extremes, suppose a print volume was made but all the vowels, in proper sequence of appearance, published only online.

  8. 8
    Diana says:

    fortunately when it comes to publishing there’s no such thing as bad publicity. The more controversy, the more people will have heard of the book. And publishers have lawyers on retainer.

  9. 9

    Reagen was before my time, but whenever I have seen clips on TV he has struck me as a smooth talking, slick politician, I got a similar vibe from John Edwards. How was everyone so taken in?

  10. 10
    dmsilev says:

    @NotMax: My concern about publishing the endnotes online is that websites aren’t forever. What happens if he decides ten years from now that maintaining a website isn’t worth the bother and he’s taking it down? If the endnotes are included with the book (the printed or the electronic version), at least then everything is in one place.

  11. 11
    RSR says:

    since we’re on the topic, a little plug for my friend Will Bunch’s “Tear Down This Myth”

    Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy

    http://www.amazon.com/Tear-Dow.....+this+myth

  12. 12
    Belafon says:

    The publishing company should offer to print the endnotes as a supplemental to anyone who owns a copy of the book.

    I think I’ll buy the book. I don’t know a whole lot of Reagan groupies around here in the physical world, but it’ll be worth it for the online battles.

  13. 13
    Citizen_X says:

    @shelley: “His name shall be stricken from the records, and from all monuments!”

  14. 14
    Belafon says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    How was everyone so taken in?

    At the time, he was the head of the party that was not in charge when the economy was in the shitter. When he was president, he raised spending through the roof, and convinced everyone that tax cuts to the wealthy were causing the economy to recover, which people were more than willing to believe. Afterwords, his legend has gone far beyond the history.

  15. 15
    Cervantes says:

    @NotMax: Shoddy, perhaps, but not unique to this case.

  16. 16

    @NotMax: It may be a matter of economics. The notes and index could have added so many pages as to make it harder to publish and sell. I’m plowing through Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “The Bully Pulpit,” the biography of the relationship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. The book is 910 pages. The text is 753 with the rest notes and index. The book retailed for $40. I agree posting the notes etc on-line sounds like a cop out, but it might have been either that or not publish it at all.

    As for the book itself, according to the Keepers of the Legend of Gipperdom, anything that slanders the reputation of the Sainted Ronaldus Maximus must be destroyed. Heresy and blasphemy!

  17. 17
    boatboy_srq says:

    Mr. Shirley’s lawyer, Chris Ashby,… demanded $25 million in damages, a public apology, revised digital editions and the destruction of all physical copies of the book

    Because if writing for the grift doesn’t get you rich quick enough, then suing the folks who expose the grift will just have to do. $25 million and silencing the opposition all in the same act a) takes chutzpah; b) is far more cost- and labor- effective than actually writing a coherent, defensible, non-ideological rebuttal (or original work to be “plagiarized” in the first place); and c) ensures that any publisher will be far more cautious about printing anything that makes you look like the a##hat you are.

  18. 18
    Ernest Pikeman says:

    I just bought Before The Storm, was going to start it over the weekend at Lassen NP. In the end, didn’t want a dive into the sewers of Ur-Wingnuttia in such a lovely environment – elected for some tales from the fluffy fascist military dictatorship in spaaaace from Lois McMaster Bujold instead.

    Now that I´m back in my urban hellhole, I have to steel myself and get going with it. Maybe I’ll get through it and Nixonland in the next couple of months…

  19. 19
    Belafon says:

    As I figured: If you go look at his citations, they are hyperlinked: http://www.rickperlstein.net/t.....rce-notes/.

  20. 20
    Waynski says:

    @dmsilev:

    Reagen was before my time, but whenever I have seen clips on TV he has struck me as a smooth talking, slick politician, I got a similar vibe from John Edwards. How was everyone so taken in?

    He was seen as an antidote to Jimmy Carter’s perceived weakness. He got lucky, but as Mickey Rourke’s character said in Barfly…”Luck counts, too.”

  21. 21
    raven says:

    Usually I’d wait and get a used copy. Fuck em, it’s in the mail.

  22. 22
    Professor says:

    @dmsilev: This problem is easily solved. When you buy the book, why don’t you copy the endnotes and use as supplement?

  23. 23
    ThalarctosMaritimus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I always found this anecdote from the neurologist Oliver Sacks telling, and ironic: http://www.politicsforum.org/f.....?p=1334103

  24. 24
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mustang Bobby:

    At least in my experience (we occasionally do art books here at work), the publisher gives you X number of pages to work with and you have to stick to that. Sometimes, they’ll cut the number of pages partway through the process, creating murderous urges in everyone who is working on the book.

  25. 25
    Joel Hanes says:

    @RSR:

    Will Bunch is one of your friends? I’m green with envy.

    I’ve been reading his Attytood blog for years — Bunch is amazingly brave and forthright. (The commentariat on that blog, however, is a cesspit, as are the comment sections of most newspaper blogs).

  26. 26
    Cervantes says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Many people, but not quite everyone.

    If you look beyond the tally of electoral votes, you find he won about 51% of the popular vote in 1980 against Carter; and about 60% in 1984 against Mondale. Millions of voters rejected him.

  27. 27
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Funny, because reading the (quite favorable) review of the book in The Economist one would get the impression that it was largely a hippie-punching tome – Carter’s “hand-wringing talk of decline and malaise”, “the liberal elites had overreached”, “Perlstein offers vivid reminders of the ghastliness of that time [late 60-‘s, early 70’s].” Nary a word about iconoclasty.

  28. 28
    Redshift says:

    @columbusqueen: Absolutely. The number of sentences you read about terrible trends in our country (income stagnation, income inequality, the list goes on) that started “about thirty years ago” or “around 1980” is astounding. Reagan is pretty close to Patient Zero for everything that’s gone badly wrong in this country in my lifetime.

  29. 29
    TR says:

    Hi, professional historian here.

    While there certainly are political motivations behind the criticisms of his work, some of the paraphrases really *are* dangerously close to direct plagiarism. It’s not just ideas and concepts that are borrowed, but some exact phrases — there was one where Perlstein used “festooned with red-white-and-blue bunting” and “smut peddlers” from the original without reference.

    The real problem here is the lack of notes in the book. The website is a great innovation, but it should only have been used to supplement the physical endnotes in the book, not to supplant them. There is NO reference to the website in the physical copy of the book, and there’s likewise no guarantee that the website lives as long as the hard copies of the book will either. The cost of endnotes in a book like this would be negligible, and a brief summary of his sources would’ve cost nothing at all.

    So, yeah, the right is out to get him. But he and his editors at S&S brought this on themselves in a bizarre unforced error.

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    And the specific campaign against Perlstein is plainly a political hit job.

    The Cult of the Shitty Grade Z Movie Star needs to be eradicated from the Universe.

  31. 31
    Cervantes says:

    @Redshift: I take your point but he was not Patient Zero. He was the illness, disguised as a physician.

  32. 32
    Elizabelle says:

    @dmsilev:

    Well said.

    I’m concerned about the online endnotes only for just that reason. If they don’t want to bulk up the book, how about including a printed supplement with the endnotes, that the reader can carry around, or not, AND putting up an online version with links?

    Attribution is important. Not everyone reading a dead tree book is online simultaneously. Something is lost, and you’re dependent on a functioning website.

    I love following quotes back to the source. Often, what the quoter left out as is interesting as what made it to their version.

    This reminds me (tangentially) of the controversy around Edmund Morris’s “Dutch”, which is probably a good bio of Reagan, but suspect because its author interspersed fiction with fact.

    (And yeah, that’s probably a perfect way to deal with RWReagan, on some level, but I wonder if Morris would do it differently now.)

    Standards are slipping enough already. Make your argument without plagiarism (as Perlstein probably did) AND with full attribution and a PAPER trail.

  33. 33

    @Cervantes: Enough to get reelected. Plus the MSM bots still worship at the altar of Reagan.

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TR:

    I’m guessing it was a cost-cutting measure on the part of S&S (pages are expensive!), which was probably a stupid decision in the long run.

  35. 35
    Elmo says:

    Streisand Rule strikes again. I’ve been waiting for this book to come out, but had honestly forgotten about it recently. Until the “controversy” reminded me. Now it’s in my Kindle.

    Thanks, wingers!

  36. 36

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    Someone said that Reagan made white people comfortable with their prejudices again, and they loved him for it. Having lived through it, it’s not a joke. His political message was that welfare had failed (IE, black people were poor because they were lazy), and that drug dealing black inner city gangs needed to be cracked down on, hard (this did not need coded language in the 80s). He then wedded the racists to the plutocrats, by pointing out that the liberals who had let things get so out of hand wanted to restrict businessmen from being mean, so deregulation and lowering taxes was the surest way to economic prosperity. Throw on top of that speeches about the ‘evil empire’ that made assholes feel like manly cowboys, and yeah, they get starry-eyed just thinking about him.

  37. 37
    Joel Hanes says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Reagan … struck me as a smooth talking, slick politician

    Close.

    He was, above all, an actor, always playing a part, always aware of the audience, always aware of how he was coming off. The realities of policy and budget and war were just props in Reagan’s dramatic production. Hell, his _kids_ were just props.

    Even before Alzheimer’s, Reagan’s need to see himself as the hero led to much confabulation (as Perlstein shows us in the section about the student strike at Eureka), and he could be counted on to tell a good story with himself as the star, even when the facts were otherwise. In later years, he seemed confused about the difference between his actual life experiences and the movies in which he’d played, and I think that there never really was an important difference in Reagan’s mind.

    He wrecked California, and went on to wreck the US government, and to convince a good chunk of the electorate to cling to a pack of self-comforting illusions instead of facing reality — that is the original sin of today’s Republican Party, and Reagan, more than anyone else, is responsible for that deception and the attraction of those lies. In my mind, he’s the worst President ever, and did more to damage this nation even than Buchanan or Johnson or W.

  38. 38
    Elizabelle says:

    @TR:

    Agree with you.

    Lesson: shake those revisionists’ trees, but make sure you can’t get shaken out of your own, through sloppy attribution and novel, if perilous, publishing innovations.

  39. 39
    TR says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Probably, but once you get over a certain size (150K words, or 500 pp. as printed) it’s all a wash. There’s a truncated approach to endnotes — double columns, full of abbreviations, etc — that some trade presses use, and it wouldn’t have cost much at all to do it.

    The excuse of the cost just seems odd to me, given my experiences (including some with the same press).

  40. 40
    KG says:

    @NotMax: it’s not illegal, but it may be unlawful – intellectual property laws create (mostly) private rights and remedies. and the law actually does provide for the destruction of infringing works in some cases. in this case, it’d probably be easier and better to simply have a second edition that includes proper citations.

  41. 41
    Elizabelle says:

    @RSR:

    Will Bunch’s

    Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy

    Bought that at a library sale!

    Somehow never find the time to sit down with a tome on the late RWReagan, though. Always something more interesting to do …

  42. 42
    El Caganer says:

    @Joel Hanes: Commentariat everywhere at philly.com is like that. Doesn’t matter what the story is, just show a photo of a person of un-whiteness with it and all the mouthbreathers crawl out of their holes.

  43. 43
    Corner Stone says:

    @TR:

    “smut peddlers”

    I can’t use “smut peddlers” without attribution?
    This whole plagiarism thing has gone way off the banana boat. Lifting a sentence or more, word for word, is not cool. But damn, how many ways can you say “smut peddlers” ?

    The cost of endnotes in a book like this would be negligible, and a brief summary of his sources would’ve cost nothing at all.

    I sincerely disbelieve this contention.

  44. 44
    Shakezula says:

    Meanwhile, liver fluke fucker Andrew McCarthy publishes a book about impeaching Obama, turns around and says he is shocked anyone thinks his book is about impeachment and his fellow fluke fetishists cluck and shudder in sympathy.

    Fuck those guys, if they don’t want to hear people contradicting the fortress o lies they’ve built for RR, they can shove their heads even further up their asses.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    I think part of it was also people wanting to go back to the Good Old Days, and Daddy Reagan (who was already in his 70s) was going to take us back there. The world was too traumatic, too complicated, and people wanted life to be simple again. It’s a very understandable and human urge that Reagan and the other Republicans exploited to the hilt.

  46. 46
    BGinCHI says:

    This is how smart they are.

    Nothing could provide RP’s book with more free publicity than this. I’m guessing a 20-40% bump in sales and recognition due to this first strike.

    I wish Shirley would condemn my novel.

    Hint: there is a war on black people in it that the white people think is really all about themselves.

  47. 47
    Corner Stone says:

    Goodness, people. On this very blogula I ask people all the time to prove up their assertions of fact. I am very keen on bringing in the info to back your shit up.
    But damn, it’s 2014.

  48. 48
    TR says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Exactly. If you know your ideological opponents are going to attack your work, you’d better be sure your scholarship is above reproach.

    This isn’t exactly Michael Bellesiles’ Arming America scandal, but it’s closer than he ever should have gotten — especially with that lesson in the past.

  49. 49
    Cervantes says:

    @Joel Hanes: Re Reagan being an actor first and foremost, I agree. It’s literally true. Someone did a study once of Reagan The Politician’s best lines and zingers to show how many of them were taken verbatim and almost verbatim from old Hollywood movies. That was his talent, period.

  50. 50
    TR says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I think “smut peddlers” is a fairly dated term, not the first thing someone would think of in a description of gentlemen’s clubs in 2014. But here’s the full comparison:

    For instance, page 287 of Shirley’s “Reagan’s Revolution” states: “Even its ‘red light’ district was festooned with red, white, and blue bunting, as dancing elephants were placed in the windows of several smut peddlers.”

    Page 771 of “The Invisible Bridge” says: “The city’s anemic red-light district was festooned with red, white and blue bunting; several of the smut peddlers featured dancers in elephant costume in their windows.”

    That’s too close to be a pure coincidence.

    As for your disbelief about my contention of the cost involved in adding a brief section of notes, well, I’ve published four books with trade presses, two with S&S. Tell me: How many have you published?

  51. 51
    Mike E says:

    @Violet: Cool. I’ll definitely tune in this evening. Nixonland was nothing if thoroughly rendered.

  52. 52
    Fair Economist says:

    Reagan was before my time, but whenever I have seen clips on TV he has struck me as a smooth talking, slick politician, I got a similar vibe from John Edwards. How was everyone so taken in?

    They were taken in because they wanted to be taken in. Basically, racists whites and sexist men had lost some of their privilege as a result of social and governmental changes in the previous 2 decades, and were at risk of losing more. Reagan provided the smiling friendly grandfatherly face that they could support without having to admit to themselves they wanted special privileges to lord over and sometimes abuse others.

    All this was being funded by the 0.1%, who had gotten behind Reagan for similar purposes when they ran him for Governor of California. That part of the current Republican vileness was operational too. I think, though, that they weren’t taken in and they realized his pleasant smiling face was essential to getting those racists and sexists to flip.

  53. 53
    Julia Grey says:

    He then wedded the racists to the plutocrats, by pointing out that the liberals who had let things get so out of hand wanted to restrict businessmen from being mean, so deregulation and lowering taxes was the surest way to economic prosperity.

    And then he ran a huge deficit economy to make the boom happen, and wallah, the people BELIEVED!!

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Reagen was before my time, but whenever I have seen clips on TV he has struck me as a smooth talking, slick politician, I got a similar vibe from John Edwards. How was everyone so taken in?

    Jack Kennedy was a smooth-talking, slick politician, too.

  54. 54
    burnspbesq says:

    @TR:

    there was one where Perlstein used “festooned with red-white-and-blue bunting” and “smut peddlers”

    If that’s all you’ve got, you don’t have anything. Those phrases have been in common usage since before I was born, and I was born when Nixon was Vice President. Tough to plagiarize a cliche, I would think.

  55. 55
    TR says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Can you please tell me how to do the rest of my job too? I’ll just tell the thirty years of professional training I’ve acquired to fuck off because this guy on the internet says that every policy of the American Historical Association on this issue is wrong.

  56. 56
    Elizabelle says:

    Can we get Mr. Perlstein here for a book discussion? That would be marvy.

  57. 57
    MattF says:

    @burnspbesq: In any case, not $25 million worth of damage to some unknown person’s reputation. Even if, for the sake of argument, Perlstein skirted the edge in his use of sources, the degree of outrage here is edifying.

  58. 58
    danielx says:

    @Citizen_X:

    “His name shall be stricken from the records, and from all monuments!”

    So let it be written; so let it be done.

    @Julia Grey:

    Jack Kennedy was a smooth-talking, slick politician, too.

    So too was/is Bill Clinton, so is the Kenyan Imposter. The last one we had who maybe didn’t fall under that heading was Lyndon Johnson. In this here day and age, pols who are not smooth talking and slick generally do not reach high office.

  59. 59
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Elizabelle: That would be great — especially if he discusses how Saint Ronnie granted amnesty to illegal immigrants, which is now a trademarked heresy in the minds of our modern day Republicans.

  60. 60
    Haydnseek says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I was in high school in California when he became governor of the state in the mid 60’s. He never missed a chance to pick fights with anybody he saw as even remotely liberal, and his fans loved it. Gun control happens when the Black Panthers legally open-carry shotguns. ” We need to nip that shit in the bud right now!” The mentally ill? “Why are we wasting money on these defectives? Toss ’em into the street!” thus ushering in the era of homelessness we grapple with to this day. These were not considered bugs at the time, but bright, shiny features that wingnuts in California crow about to this day. These people weren’t taken in in the sense that they were deceived. They were taken in much as one might take in a stray dog or cat. They had found their benefactor. They were home at last.

  61. 61
    Samuel Knight says:

    Great post:
    1) Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy is a great book and a fabulous introduction to the absolute BS peddled by the GOP spin-meisters since Reagan’s 3) death.
    2) I’m all for not publishing the end-notes – this book is huge – why make it any heavier? Yeah – kindle all is the obvious solution – but I like real books.
    3) This is all about trying to create false controversy – if you look at Reagan’s record you’ll see a horror show. Almost every major bad trend started in 1980s – exploding deficits, income inequality, out-of-control military. It’s all there – the myth is designed to hide all of that.
    4) Lying – but the main thing that is striking is that Reagan introduced a whole new level of blatant dishonesty into US politics. Blithely telling and repeating absolute false hoods and getting away with it. That’s a lesson that has not been forgotten – just lie and stick with it.

  62. 62
    Glocksman says:

    I had forgotten all about this book, and it’s one I just added to my reserved list at the local library.
    Nixonland and Before the Storm were excellent reads that I learned a lot from.

    @Julia Grey:

    And then he ran a huge deficit economy to make the boom happen, and wallah, the people BELIEVED!!

    During the 1988 campaign I remember hearing an explanation of Dukakis’s ‘Massachusetts Miracle’ that said something similar.

    “Ronald Reagan initiated the largest peacetime military buildup in US history using borrowed money, Tip O’Neill directed a large part of that buildup to his home state, and Michael Dukakis was there to take the credit.”

  63. 63
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @TR:

    I think “smut peddlers” is a fairly dated term, not the first thing someone would think of…

    It’s a band name. And a James J. Kilpatrick book title. And an Eric Alterman chapter heading….

  64. 64
    Schlemizel says:

    I know he is roundly condemned on BJ for not being sufficiently loyal but Mike Moore’s book has an entire chapter about a story he did while working as a journalist. The St. Reagan administration held a conference in Mexico for American companies. He details how they laid out a process whereby jobs could be ended in the US and started in various shitholes with no worker protection, environmental rules and simple tax dodges. The big 3 automakers were all there & that was the moment that Michigan was drained. Flint, Detroit, Deerfield, Saganaw, the works.

    That chapter alone should be enough to buy his book and to charge everyone involved with economic treason. The guillotines can’t come fast enough.

  65. 65
    burnspbesq says:

    @TR:

    Can you please tell me how to do the rest of my job too?

    No, but I will tell you what a common-sense reaction to what you’re alleging is, and I will go on to remind you that in the context of threatened litigation, what you’re alleging has a specific legal meaning, and when a lawyer tells you you’ve got bupkes, you might want to stop and think about that.

    every policy of the American Historical Association on this issue is wrong

    Don’t believe I said that, or that it’s a reasonable inference from what I did say. You may be able to trash some junior faculty member’s career based on that standard, but you’re not going to recover damages, and the non-professional-historian world is going to think you’ve gone round the bend.

    What’s your real agenda here?

  66. 66
    GxB says:

    @Cervantes:

    …he was not Patient Zero. He was the illness, disguised as a physician.

    I’m just going to sit here in bask in the glow of this statement.

  67. 67
    Corner Stone says:

    @TR:

    Tell me: How many have you published?

    Only three, so far.
    Fuck! Beaten again by an eponymous commenter using two capitalized letters!
    When will this torture* end?

    *Sorry President Obama. I meant “folksy discussion”.

  68. 68
    flukebucket says:

    I googled “festooned with red-white-and-blue bunting” and got about 22,000 hits going back as far as 2007 when I stopped looking so even though I had never even heard the phrase I guess that says more about me than it say about the phrase.

  69. 69
    Corner Stone says:

    @Fair Economist:

    Reagan provided the smiling friendly grandfatherly face that they could support without having to admit to themselves they wanted special privileges to lord over and sometimes abuse others.

    I instinctively wanted to kick his kneecaps out of alignment. But I was always an irrepressible little hooligan!

  70. 70
    Nancy Cadet says:

    I’ve read Perlstein’s Nixonland–really well-written and exhaustively researched–and am looking forward to this new one, when it comes out in paperback. It should be good beach reading . Regarding online endnotes: this trend is annoying , especially to readers /scholars who are not always online and might be sitting with an actual printed paper book in their hands.

    But publishers are really pushing authors, especially with long books, to put the “extras” online only: bibliographies, for example. It’s cheaper, much cheaper. So let’s not blame Perlstein for that. He may not have had a choice .

  71. 71
    KG says:

    @burnspbesq: c’mon burnsy, you’re a lawyer, you know “common sense” has nothing to do with the law.

  72. 72
    Kay says:

    I love Rick Perlstein’s work and I wish he’d write a book about Chicago.

  73. 73
    James E. Powell says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Someone said that Reagan made white people comfortable with their prejudices again, and they loved him for it.

    He went a bit beyond making people comfortable. He was able to express the white male rage in a way that was palatable for television, in a way that George Wallace, with his accent and his history, could not.

    Reagan was also a leading proponent of the American Dolchstoßlegende – That Americans were engaged in a noble cause Viet Nam but were betrayed. And more, that the Nixon/Kissinger policies of opening relations with China and detente & arms control treaties with the Evil Empire were a betrayal of America’s mission, ordained by God, to save the world from communism and be in control of everything everywhere. Few people seem to recall this, but before the Iranian hostages & the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Reagan’s big foreign policy issue was the Panama Canal treaty.

  74. 74
    Elizabelle says:

    @TR:

    I did not pay enough attention to the Bellesiles incident. Oy vey. Making up one’s documentary evidence.

    And that’s something that worries me about the planned online only attribution. Anything online can be easily changed, or fooled with. It’s not a sufficient record.

    There’s lots of lies and crap out in print version, true, but lies and inaccuracies are even more scurrilous on the internet, which can be impermanent. They can disappear, leaving no trace.

    I wonder sometimes about some of the books in public domain, that you can read for free on the internet. How do you know that you are getting every chapter? How accurate is that translation, really? Who put the thing up?

  75. 75
    TR says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I work in academia. It’s adorable that you think “common sense” is allowed anywhere near here.

    To be clear, I think the lawsuit is ridiculous. But there are enough instances like the one I cited — some 45 in all, all from the same one book, all without any citation in his new book — that have given me pause. And I’ve discussed this on another forum with another dozen or so historians, and we all had the same reaction — this is sloppy work, likely driven by the publisher’s desire to keep cranking these volumes out.

    As a lawyer, you may think this is nothing. But as someone who does this work for a living — and who works hard to do original work and cite my sources, and who expects others to do the same when using my work in theirs — I think it’s a little more than that. Not the end of the world, but a bit cringeworthy.

    This sort of thing happens all too often with historians who aren’t academics and make their living off a high rate of publication, as they rush it a little or outsource the research to assistants. We saw it with Stephen Ambrose, and to a lesser extent, we saw it with Doris Kearns Goodwin too.

    Again, he *had* to know that the right would be going over this with a fine-tooth comb. Why he didn’t take the time to make sure he’d be immune from such attacks is beyond me, and it’s beyond most people I’ve talked with in the profession.

  76. 76
    Downpuppy says:

    If, like me, you’d prefer 200 pages of funny pictures & Nancy’s astrologer to 850 of serious texts, Paul Slansky’s 1989 book, The Clothes Have No Emperor covers the regency period quite thoroughly.

  77. 77
    BGinCHI says:

    @Kay: It’s been out for decades, but if you’ve never read Herbert Asbury’s “Gem of the Prairie: An Informal History of the Chicago Underworld” you ought to. He’s the Gangs of New York guy….

    Also, of course, Nelson Algren’s “Chicago: City on the Make.” Classic.

  78. 78
    pamelabrown53 says:

    What’s interesting, John Cole, is your assertion that Perlstein’s “Nixonland” was one of your favorite history books.When it comes to books, I’m borderline OCD about finishing them. Yet, “Nixonland” remains unfinished for me because all of all the digressions and footnotes. The narrative was so interrupted as to be almost invisible.

    Which leads to your second point: IF Perlstein’s new book is more readable without the constant sourcing and digressions as its result then why wouldn’t the publishers address this is a Forward?

    I guess the true motive for the plagiarism charge is a preemptive strike against anything that addresses the record of St. Ronnie.

    BTW, Obots, should we try to influence history by an intractable post president support to name everything that’s not nailed down…scratch that…just everything “Barack Obama (fill in the blank).

  79. 79
    Nicole says:

    I liked Nixonland a lot and I’m grateful to Anne Laurie for setting up the book club here for it; I’d never have gotten around to reading it otherwise. I’ll put in my request at the library for The Invisible Bridge. I’d buy it but I’m still waiting on payment for a job that is now EIGHT MONTHS OVERDUE (the rage, the rage) so I’s broke. Boo. Goddess bless the socialist public library.

    As for end notes- eh, it’s a lot of paper for something the majority of readers won’t look through.

    I was a teenager during his second term, as were many of my family and friends and I cannot, cannot understand how they, who were also alive during that time, have just forgotten that he wasn’t revered as a saint. Iran Contra did more to shape my view of government than anything else. I just couldn’t wrap my 15-year-old head around why people got away with it.

  80. 80
    raven says:

    @TR: Would you guys make up your minds while I still have time to cancel the order!

  81. 81
    BGinCHI says:

    @TR: Agree that this is sloppy and needs to be fixed. But at the same time, people like Shirley are not arguing what you are arguing. You are doing so in good faith and Shirley is not.

    The publishing companies need to bear the burden on this. Yes, a historian has rules for producing material, but this is much more high-stakes than an obscure academic monograph.

    Also an academic so not talking out of my ass.

  82. 82
    KG says:

    @James E. Powell:

    detente & arms control treaties with the Evil Empire were a betrayal of America’s mission, ordained by God, to save the world from communism and be in control of everything everywhere

    and yet Reagan proposed and negotiated START I.

    I find Reagan a very interesting historical figure. I grew up in a very Reagan Republican house and don’t harbor any ill will toward the man. I do, however, hold a great deal of ill will for those who have built this mythical Reagan that does not match much of history (and for the record, I think there is as much Evil Reagan myth making on the left as there is Republican Saving Hero Reagan myth making on the right).

  83. 83
    TR says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Yes, exactly.

    Again, the online thing with hyperlinks is great. But the text and the notes need to be bound together, in a permanent physical form, if a work of history is going to be taken seriously.

    I’ve loved his past books. I’m just stunned that he did this with the new one. Nixonland is about the same size, and it has endnotes as it should.

    And honestly, if you’re past the 800 pp. mark for a book that basically covers THREE YEARS in the mid-1970s, then maybe there’s a bit of the narrative that could be trimmed so the notes don’t have to be discarded entirely.

  84. 84
    Nylund says:

    So wait, let me get this straight. This Shirley dude wants an apology, $25 million, etc. because Perlstein created a website of all his citations with hyperlinks back to Shirley’s writing so people can read the original work itself, rather than just listing what those works are in the back part of a book few people ever even look at? And he’s labeling it plagiarism?

  85. 85
    Steve says:

    @TR: According to the response from S&S’s lawyers, the allegation that the physical book contains no reference to the website isn’t true. They say it is contained in the “Note on Sources” on page 810, and that Shirley’s lawyers were basing their accusation on a review copy of the manuscript.

    A few weeks ago I saw Perlstein on Facebook soliciting comments on this concept of online-only reference notes. There was a good discussion and some interesting differences of opinion. I am a fogey myself and would prefer hard-copy endnotes. But I think it is hard to make the case that the intent of this online innovation was to obscure the original sources, which is really what this fight is about. The discussion about best publishing practices, while a valid one, is not well-suited to be hashed out between litigation counsel.

  86. 86
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Nancy Cadet: Regarding online endnotes: this trend is annoying , especially to readers /scholars who are not always online

    I have no dog in this fight, and am pointedly not a publisher nor historian nor attorney, but I’m curious about this controversy. Let’s say you’re reading the book in an environment when a computer of some sort isn’t close at hand, and you read a paragraph that you’d like to look up. If you have the endnote/footnote in the physical book at hand, how does that note help you since, as already postulated, you don’t have access to the Internet? You can’t follow the note to its source when you’re on an airplane or at the beach reading, right?

  87. 87
    TR says:

    @raven:

    Oh, I’d say order it. Rick synthesizes the literature well (too well, maybe!) and his writing is quite nice.

  88. 88
    Corner Stone says:

    @TR: I like the word “festoon”.
    Festooned. Festoonish. To Festoon. Festoonesque.
    I festoon. She festoons. We festoon. They festooned. It was festooned.
    Could one be a festooner?

  89. 89
    TR says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Yeah, honestly, it’s S&S’s role that puzzles me the most here.

  90. 90
    Nicole says:

    @KG:

    I think there is as much Evil Reagan myth making on the left as there is Republican Saving Hero Reagan myth making on the right

    Well, you gotta admit, just between Iran Contra and the handling of the AIDS crisis, his administration gave us quite a bit to work with.

  91. 91
    Glocksman says:

    @Nicole:

    I just checked the status of my hold request.
    They ordered 2 copies and I have the only hold against them so far.

    I lucked out, I guess.

  92. 92
    TR says:

    @Steve:

    Ah, well that explains it. I got an advanced review copy too.

    That’s not as bad, but still — notes need to go in the book.

    And I agree, this wasn’t done with the intent of deceiving. I think Rick just wanted to push the envelope a little with an online innovation. But I think he left him self open to the inevitable partisan attacks as a result.

  93. 93

    @Shakezula: You mean, “Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment” is not about impeachment? Huh. I wonder what it’s about.

  94. 94
    BGinCHI says:

    @TR: No way RP said to them, “Hey I’d like the book to be shorter, so let’s put all my endnotes, which took dozens of hours to compile, online in order to save you printing costs.”

    S&S are looking at the profit margin. Which is fine, but folks should be aware of who has what incentives.

    Wondering why they didn’t just do 2 volumes….

  95. 95
    Corner Stone says:

    @BGinCHI: Personally, I think the whole thing is academic at this point.

  96. 96
    BGinCHI says:

    @SatanicPanic, flagrant Muzlatto frapparoon of indeterminate gentrification: Obviously it’s about taking personal responsibility for your actions.

  97. 97
    raven says:

    @TR: He knew that the minutmen in Champaign-Urbana sent postcards to “activists” saying “the crosshairs are on your back”. I’ve never know of anyone outside of people who were there at the time that knew that!

  98. 98
    Graham says:

    The idea concerns the fact that this country wants nostalgia. They want to go back as far as they can – even if it’s only as far as last week. Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards. And yesterday was the day of our cinema heroes riding to the rescue at the last possible moment. The day of the man in the white hat or the man on the white horse – or the man who always came to save America at the last moment – someone always came to save America at the last moment – especially in “B” movies. And when America found itself having a hard time facing the future, they looked for people like John Wayne. But since John Wayne was no longer available, they settled for Ronald Reagan and it has placed us in a situation that we can only look at like a “B” movie.

    Gil Scott-Heron – “B” Movie

  99. 99
    flukebucket says:

    @TR:

    Again, he *had* to know that the right would be going over this with a fine-tooth comb. Why he didn’t take the time to make sure he’d be immune from such attacks is beyond me, and it’s beyond most people I’ve talked with in the profession.

    is it possible he knew they would raise hell about it and stir the churn to help sell books?

  100. 100
    SatanicPanic says:

    @SatanicPanic, flagrant Muzlatto frapparoon of indeterminate gentrification: Rick Perlstein should take a page out of his book and deny that his new book is about Reagan.

  101. 101
    Hal says:

    25 million dollars? Did he ask for it like Dr Evil?

  102. 102
    BGinCHI says:

    @Corner Stone: It would be except for the legal sharks circling the pool.

    If it were about an academic book, everyone would be arguing louder while simultaneously losing money on all sides.

  103. 103
    raven says:

    @flukebucket: 26 days

  104. 104
    SatanicPanic says:

    @TR: Alleged vaccines that make you immune to right wing attacks have been tested over and over again, mostly in the 90s. Results have been poor.

  105. 105
    BGinCHI says:

    Crazy fuck Walter Jones (R-Pig Fucker, NC) now calling for Obama impeachment instead of spendy lawsuit.

    Wonder if he’s been googling the price of hemp rope.

  106. 106
    Corner Stone says:

    @KG:

    I grew up in a very Reagan Republican house and don’t harbor any ill will toward the man

    Reagan is like a tight 3rd on the “if you had a time machine and could go back to the 20th century and ice somebody”.

  107. 107
    Citizen_X says:

    @pamelabrown53:

    should we try to influence history by an intractable post president support to name everything that’s not nailed down…scratch that…just everything “Barack Obama (fill in the blank).

    I think I’d be happy with just renaming Washington National Airport after the Kenyan Usurper.

  108. 108
    Cervantes says:

    @KG:

    for the record, I think there is as much Evil Reagan myth making on the left as there is Republican Saving Hero Reagan myth making on the right

    Is there any way you can explain or justify this assertion?

  109. 109
    Elizabelle says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Festoon is nice, but Chyron HR won the day yesterday with “frapparoon.”

    As in

    Pajama* Boy is a flagrant Muzlatto frapparoon of indeterminate gentrification.

    Comment 23 on the I’m Coming to Get Ya thread.

    Unless Chyron plagiarized it ….

  110. 110
    Kay says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Thanks so much.

  111. 111
    Nicole says:

    @Glocksman: You lucked out indeed. NYPL has one listed copy on order and I am 19 on the wait list. With any luck, they’ll get a few more. I can’t imagine them not at least getting a few digital ones, too.

  112. 112
    Citizen_X says:

    @Elizabelle: I’m pretty sure I ordered a venti frapparoon yesterday.

  113. 113
    Belafon says:

    @Elizabelle:

    There’s lots of lies and crap out in print version, true, but lies and inaccuracies are even more scurrilous on the internet, which can be impermanent. They can disappear, leaving no trace.

    Except virtually everything has a backup. People keep trying to edit Wikipedia or delete tweets and it’s generally pretty easy to find the original copy.

  114. 114
    gene108 says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Someone said that Reagan made white people comfortable with their prejudices again, and they loved him for it.

    That over simplifies things.

    Reagan had a sales pitch that was perfect for a moment in time, especially after the Iran Hostage crisis and America’s “loss” in Vietnam, about making America strong again.

    Roll that along with OMG! look at what LBJ promised with the Great Society programs and the Civil Rights Act and look at the skyrocketing crime rates around the country, increase in teen pregnancy, high inflation and boy, things were better off before LBJ’s meddling.

    There was a strong yearning for the happy days of yore, by the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

    Two hit shows, whole premise was they were set in the 1950’s and 1960’s: “Happy Days” and its spin-off “Laverne and Shirley” presented a romanticized version of the past audiences wanted.

    There was enough perceived going wrong with America that the causation-correlation that Movement Conservatism did with saying the Great Society programs were to blame, because thing were better before, seemed intuitive for a lot of people.

    There was a great confluence of events of the late 1960’s and 1970’s that seemed, for many people, to lend credence to Reagan’s spiel.

  115. 115
    JPL says:

    The Invisible Bridge was added to my nook wish list. I was surprised that the nook version is $19.99, because that’s a little pricey for an online read. My next book is Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America, 1927. I like online footnotes, because it’s quite convenient when reading on the nook or kindle.

  116. 116
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TR:

    Why he didn’t take the time to make sure he’d be immune from such attacks is beyond me, and it’s beyond most people I’ve talked with in the profession.

    I realize that this is a common perception on the left, but there is no possible way to immunize yourself from right-wing attacks. None. Because, like it or not, if they can’t easily find something, they will make shit up.

  117. 117
    burnspbesq says:

    @KG:

    you know “common sense” has nothing to do with the law.

    Sure it does–just not at the U.S. Supreme Court.

  118. 118
    Schlemizel says:

    @KG:
    I’d be actually interested to hear what myths you think the left has built around St. Ronnie.

  119. 119
    JPL says:

    @gene108: A large section of the republican party, still idolize those days.

  120. 120
    Dog On Porch says:

    I read Nixonland. I also came of age during the late ’60’s-early ’70’s (i.e. I began drawing conclusions about American politics) and give it 3 1/2 stars.

    My chief recollections about that book was the brilliant campaign waged by Nixon between ’62-’67, calculated to gain himself the presidency in 1968. Lightning did not simply strike the man.

    The second was the irrefutable evidence Perlstein presented that exposed the left’s rhetoric and behavior as oftentimes obnoxious. They were right about the war, but also very human.

    If I were Perlstein, I’d be doing a happy dance about all this publicity.

  121. 121
    rikyrah says:

    @MattF:

    ICAM

    Saint Ronnie must stay Saint Ronnie

  122. 122
    TR says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Sure, you’re never immune. But slap the notes in the book, and we’re not even talking about it.

  123. 123
    Cervantes says:

    @TR:

    This sort of thing happens all too often with historians who aren’t academics and make their living off a high rate of publication, as they rush it a little or outsource the research to assistants. We saw it with Stephen Ambrose, and to a lesser extent, we saw it with Doris Kearns Goodwin too.

    Neither of them is a favorite of mine — but Ambrose was on the faculty at UNO for many years.

  124. 124
    James E. Powell says:

    @KG:

    The START treaty negotiations stretched over the years during which Reagan began and carried on a massive build-up of nuclear weapons, the B2 stealth bomber, and provoked the largest anti-nuclear arms protests in British history. In other words, START was PR bullshit.

    And I am not aware of any widely believed myths about Reagan that were produced by “the left” – whoever you might think that is. The right-wingers have convinced people to believe that Reagan: 1) balanced, came close to balancing, or even tried to balance the federal budget, 2) improved the economy by cutting spending, 3) produced a more prosperous middle class than existed when he came into office, 4) only cut and never raised taxes, 5) ended the Iranian hostage crisis by standing up to the Iranians and scaring them with military threats, 6) ended the Cold War by giving bellicose speeches and exploding the Pentagon budget. If I’ve left any important ones out, I’m sure some one will remind me.

    So what the myths produced by the left? Can you name five?

  125. 125
    TR says:

    @flukebucket:

    That thought occurred to me too, but Rick made his name with Before the Storm — largely because conservatives loved it so much and promoted it for him. Not sure why he would do a 180 here, but maybe.

    Either way, yeah, this is only going to sell more copies.

  126. 126
    burnspbesq says:

    @SatanicPanic, flagrant Muzlatto frapparoon of indeterminate gentrification:

    You mean, “Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment” is not about impeachment? Huh. I wonder what it’s about.

    Baseball. Needed a sexier title to move, and McCarthy is the last person on earth who would have any remorse about bait and switch.

  127. 127
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TR:

    Right, but you’re assuming it was Perlstein’s choice not to put the endnotes in the book and not the publisher’s. Unless you have a specific quote on that by him, I think you’re blaming him without much evidence.

    Does your publisher always listen to you and do everything you want? That sure as hell hasn’t been our experience, and we are published by another branch of the same damn company we work for. We didn’t even get to design the cover of our latest book — it was taken away from our designer and the marketing department did it themselves.

    ETA: We had to fight to get the pages for a freakin’ index. In an art book.

  128. 128
    TR says:

    @Cervantes:

    Yes, but the plagiarism trouble began (IIRC) after he left, right?

  129. 129
    Mandalay says:

    @TR: I agree with all of that – well said. The issue of whether it’s plagiarism or paraphrasing, and the appropriateness of omitting footnotes from the physical book are open to debate, but it is inexcusable if there is no link to the footnotes on the author’s website in the physical book.

    And even if you accept the approach of only having the notes on line (which I don’t), they do not belong on the web site of the author. The publisher should be handling that, and any author changes to those notes on line should be recorded, and published by the book’s publisher to their web site.

  130. 130
    Mandalay says:

    @TR: I agree with all of that – well said. The issue of whether it’s plagiarism or paraphrasing, and the appropriateness of omitting footnotes from the physical book are open to debate, but it is inexcusable if there is no link to the footnotes on the author’s website in the physical book.

    And even if you accept the approach of only having the notes on line (which I don’t), they do not belong on the web site of the author. The publisher should be handling that, and any author changes to those notes on line should be recorded, and published by the book’s publisher to their web site.

  131. 131
    Mike E says:

    @KG: Much like BHO, RWR is all things to certain people; a useful talisman to get a desired effect. Reagan genuinely believed that START and Star Wars were deterrents to all-out nuclear war, and he wanted to be on the right side of history. As far as all the other stuff, fuck him.

  132. 132
    smintheus says:

    @TR: I agree with your argument (and I too am a professional historian). There are at least a few paraphrases that are so close that they don’t pass the sniff test. Even adequate footnoting would not have solved the problem. Either you quote somebody or you paraphrase their ideas/info. You don’t half quote them unless you state explicitly – in text – ‘as Senor Calamar remarked, Reagan…’. It’s just not acceptable to do these cheap-knockoff paraphrases.

  133. 133
    TR says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    With every book I’ve published, including two with the same press, the line from the press has been “this book is too long; it’ll be too expensive if we stray over X word count; so we need you to trim down the chapters in the following ways.”

    I have never had a press suggest we jettison the notes; I have never even heard of it before.

  134. 134
    TR says:

    @Mandalay:

    Excellent point.

  135. 135
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TR:

    And what we hear is, “We’re taking 10 pages out of the book, so you have to lay it out all over again. Sucks to be you.”

    Again, unless you have a quote from Perlstein saying that he specifically wanted the endnotes online, I think you are placing the blame on him unfairly.

  136. 136
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Waynski:

    Barfly

    O/T, but whenever I see that word, I pronounce it in my head as if it were an adverb.

  137. 137
    burnspbesq says:

    @Schlemizel:

    I’d be actually interested to hear what myths you think the left has built around St. Ronnie

    The “Great Tax Cutter” allegation doesn’t withstand careful analysis. Recall that there were four major pieces of tax legislation during Reagan’s eight years in office. The 1981 act was a shameless giveaway. But to Reagan’s credit, after Volcker and others explained the damage it was going to do, it was mostly rescinded in 1982. The 1984 act was pretty close to revenue-neutral (IIRC), but fixed some policy problems. The 1986 act fixed a shit-load of policy problems, and over time has been substantially revenue-positive.

  138. 138
    Mnemosyne says:

    By the way, I just started getting the ads that take me to a new tab in the browser whenever I load a page. Really fucking annoying.

    ETA: The ad is for Tune Up My Mac. Assholes.

  139. 139
    MaximumMary says:

    I remember the Reagan years well. “Smut peddlers” was in common use. Pornographers was too technical, let too many people off the hook. Smut peddlers are whoever you imagine are ruining the world today. MTV – smut peddler. Judith Krantz – smut peddler. Cosmopolitan magazine – smut peddler. Our Bodies, Our Selves – smut peddler.

    On the plagiarism controversy, I’m curious to read the original sources which both books have in common. I was in a writer’s group where there were frequent accusation of stealing ideas, because two people would write similar stories. They refused to accept it was because they had read the same Time cover story about this scientific breakthrough six months previously. What were Craig Shirley’s sources? Is he talking about personal interviews with the participants? Or is he complaining that Perlstein dared to read the same contemporary sources he did? Anyway, with his resume it is pretty shady of the Times to treat him as an disinterested party, rather than part of the machine devoted to making sure wingnuts will be able to ignore this book.

  140. 140
    James E. Powell says:

    @TR:

    I’m inclined to agree with you, I want sources, citations, notes, but then I was on law review and I am a dick about such things. I will say that your two examples were not the kind of things I’d expect to be supported with a reference note.

    Also too, is Shirley’s complaint that he wasn’t cited as a source, or that he wasn’t cited as a source in the book? There is a significant difference in the two complaints.

  141. 141
    BGinCHI says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I have the same mental problem with “beribboned.”

    Sounds like “berry-boned.”

    I like barfly as an adverb: “He was a sloppy eater. The potatoes went down and I experienced a barfly moment of discomfort.”

  142. 142
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Mike E: genuinely believed that START and Star Wars were deterrents to all-out nuclear war

    May very well be true, but the irony is that the continued belief in SDI, combined with the Pershing buildup in Europe, very nearly led to a pre-emptive nuclear strike by the Kremlin gerontocracy. By some accounts the “doomsday clock” was closer to midnight in the fall of 1983 than during the Cuban crisis.

  143. 143
    BGinCHI says:

    @burnspbesq: This is just as much, if not more, a myth generated from the right.

  144. 144
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @TR: I’d love if you could tell me there was another phrase available to describe red, white, and blue bunting.

    All I got is “that old-timey ‘patriotic’ fabric that is cinched every few feet and puts you in the mind of the small town mayoral race in the world of Robert McCloskey’s Homer”.

  145. 145
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @Citizen_X: Hah! Whatever you say about the Reagan folks is you must admit: they’re implacable…decade after decade. Unfortunately, their unyielding devotion has payed off: we now have a St. Ronnie who bears little resemblance to ” The 20 Team Mule Borax” guy.

  146. 146
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @TR: this.

  147. 147
    KG says:

    two easy liberal myths about Reagan which have actually been brought up in this thread:

    1. he didn’t care about AIDS. AIDS research spending was $8m his first year in office, the next year it went to $44m, then it came close to doubling annually until it was over $2b. He didn’t say anything publicly, which apparently is the bully pulpit argument.

    2. Reagan as governor released a bunch of mentally ill people and made them homeless. Because this had nothing to do with the Supreme Court decision O’Connor v Donaldson which found the process illegal (by the way, that was a Burger Court decision that was unanimous)

  148. 148
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @danielx: How is Obama a slickster? Thinking before you open your mouth is just about the opposite of oily smooth narcissist in my book.

    Obama is shrewd. That is not at all the same thing as being a needy narcissist. Some narcissists are shrewd, some aren’t, some shrewd people are narcissists, but most shrewd people aren’t because it’s a personality disorder that makes it difficult to understand other people’s motivations if they aren’t the narcissist’s motivations (envy, drive to power, sex, pleasure, material shit).

  149. 149
    smintheus says:

    @Cervantes: Had dinner once with Ambrose when he was giving a talk at our institution. What a buffoon.

  150. 150
    Mike E says:

    @Gin & Tonic: And numerous other twitchy finger moments have come to light, one as recent as the Clinton presidency. If the public only knew how close we came to Armageddon…naw, they wouldn’t care, forget I mentioned it.

  151. 151
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @Samuel Knight: Sarah Palin pretty much followed the Reagan playbook in Wasilla. She just couldn’t pull a repeat as governor of Alaska. Too lazy, too stupid, didn’t have the right kind of friends–who knows.

  152. 152
    TR says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    There’s no way the press forced that on him against his will. If they’d tried that with me, I’d have told them to cram it.

    On twitter he keeps bragging about the innovation he made so it seems he’s fine with it at least and proud of it at most.

  153. 153
    kc says:

    @TR:

    some guy on the internet

    Yeah, but he’s got “esq” in his pseudonym.

  154. 154
    David Hunt says:

    @Corner Stone: Out of curiosity, who’s number two on the Time Machine Death List?

  155. 155
    TR says:

    @Another Holocene Human (now with new computer):

    Draped. Decorated. Outfitted. Hung.

  156. 156
    Cervantes says:

    @TR:

    I have never had a press suggest we jettison the notes; I have never even heard of it before.

    I don’t like it, either, and would not agree to it, but as I said above, it’s not unique to this book. I’ve run into it before more than once. For example, as long ago as 2007, when Drew Westen (Emory) published The Political Brain with PublicAffairs, the footnotes were web-only.

  157. 157
    Mandalay says:

    Dave Weigel on Slate published two letters from Shirley’s poutraged lawyers to S&S, and a response. Lots of examples of alleged plagiarism are provided.

    I’m not sympathetic to Shirley’s silly demands, but he has good reason to want to kick Perlstein in the nuts very hard.

  158. 158
    kc says:

    Snark aside, the endnotes/footnotes oughta be in the damn book. In my opinion.

  159. 159
    jafd says:

    I’m actually happy about the trend to online footnotes of serious books.

    First, for references available online, you can check them in a click.

    Second, when adding interesting works to your ‘wannaread’ list, it’s a simple matter of copying title and author into ClipMate, then pasting into the list database.

    Thirdly, using online footnotes is easier. When a reference says something like “53: L. Smith (1993) ibid“, I don’t have to page back to find out the work of Mr. Smith referred to, but can just go and “find text on this page…”

    Fourth (you’ve probably all heard this ;-) )
    A wonderful bird is the ibid
    In appearance it’s pale and insipid
    It stands like a sage
    At the bottom of the page
    To tell whence the passage was cribb’d

  160. 160
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TR:

    There’s no way the press forced that on him against his will. If they’d tried that with me, I’d have told them to cram it.

    And you get out of your contract with them how, exactly? Most authors don’t get to just tell their publishers to “cram it” unless they’re Stephen King or someone at a similar level.

  161. 161
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MattF: The outrage has everything to do with daring to question the myth of the shitty grade Z movie star.

    Make no mistake, this is about defending a tin god.

  162. 162
    James E. Powell says:

    @burnspbesq:

    The “Great Tax Cutter” allegation doesn’t withstand careful analysis.

    That’s a myth of the left? I don’t know about “the left” or anyone else, but the record shows that the Reagan era tax changes substantially reduced the tax rates on the upper income earners. From 1981 to 1987 the top marginal rate went from 70% to 38.5%. I am using these tables.

    If I recall correctly, I believe that David Stockman admitted that the legerdemain of the two big tax acts, Kemp/Roth in 1981 and TEFRA in 1982 was in getting the rates down on high earners and some estate tax adjustments.

  163. 163
    gene108 says:

    @Samuel Knight:

    3) This is all about trying to create false controversy – if you look at Reagan’s record you’ll see a horror show. Almost every major bad trend started in 1980s – exploding deficits, income inequality, out-of-control military. It’s all there – the myth is designed to hide all of that.

    You do realize the right-wing love affair with Reagan has nothing to do with what he did.

    It is what he allowed Movement Conservatism to become that will always earn undying worship.

    After the Civil Rights Movement and before the Reagan Revolution, guys with some money and power like Falwell and Robertson were marginalized, because being against integration was no longer publicly acceptable.

    Reagan gave those guys a seat at the Big People’s table (pissed of Sen. Goldwater, who loathed Reagan for that BTW) and eventually they took over the Republican Party.

    What matters to these guys is Ronald Reagan made the Republican Party accept the homeschoolers, anti-child abuse legislation, prayer in schools, whites only Christian academies anti-abortion activists and so on, without which they would be mocked and ridiculed, instead of becoming a major political force in this country.

    Everything else about Reagan’s legacy is secondary.

  164. 164
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Another Holocene Human (now with new computer): Unless she left her day job, the dumptruck filled with money would leave her driveway.

  165. 165
    Mike in NC says:

    Reagan was an experienced salesman who could always tell people exactly what they wanted to hear. What they didn’t want to hear was what Jimmy Carter was asking: turn down the thermostat, drive a little slower, save for a rainy day, etc. Ronnie said forget that wimpy shit because “It’s Morning In America”.

    Deficits don’t matter. If you want a free lunch, Uncle Sam will provide one. Except in the case of Cadillac-driving welfare queens and young bucks buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. He wrote the playbook that Republicans have used since 1980.

  166. 166
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cervantes:

    I found a blog post from 2010 complaining about online endnotes for one of Bill Bryson’s books. It doesn’t seem to be a new phenomenon, especially with books that are more pop history than academic.

  167. 167
    BGinCHI says:

    @Mnemosyne: You can always give back your high six figure (or seven) advance in order to make your point. I mean, it’s only money.

  168. 168
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @Gin & Tonic: I’m in agreement except that I don’t think SDI had anything to do with preventing nuclear war. It was all a propaganda sham (the Pentagon knew it didn’t work) so that Americans didn’t have to be “humiliated” by being in M.A.D. with the damn Ruskies/Communists.

    The whole notion was insane, it was demoralizing for people with clearances stuck working for defense contractors and DOD (who had to stay silent, but watched the leaders of the military suborn their mission for political purposes), and it was a joke to the creative class, who overall seem to have hated Reagan. It was dubbed “Star Wars” which gives you some notion of how people felt about it. That was that funky movie from the late 70s with animated lasers blowing up model space ships.

  169. 169
    David Hunt says:

    @TR:

    But slap the notes in the book, and we’re not even talking about it.

    Not about that perhaps, but then we’d be talking about something else. A book that attacks Ronald Reagan must be destroyed along with its author. It’s axiomatic. There would be some sort of assault taking place now even if they had to claim the book was written by Bill Ayers.

  170. 170
    Cervantes says:

    @TR:

    Yes, but the plagiarism trouble began (IIRC) after he left, right?

    He was at UNO for nigh on three decades; retired in the mid-’90s. The plagiarism scandal erupted in 2002, the year he died — but the plagiarism itself appeared to stretch back for decades, even unto his doctoral dissertation.

  171. 171
    RSR says:

    @Joel Hanes: Well, more technically an acquaintance, but yeah. Helped provide some material for a series for him a while back.

    As for his comments section…ugh, it’s so ugly I can’t even read it. Not sure why Philly.com even has it.

  172. 172
    Mnemosyne says:

    @BGinCHI:

    I knew an author who was very unhappy with the way her publisher was handling a manuscript she had already turned in, so she ended up buying it back from them. It was a very long, involved process that was a giant pain in her ass and took at least a year. Between that and my experiences with Giant Evil Corporation Press, I’m finding it hard to believe that Perlstein was the primary driver of putting the endnotes online. Sure, he’s putting a good face on it and making sure that his readers know where they are before they even pick up the book, but I don’t think he walked in and said, Hey, I have a great idea, let’s not put the endnotes in the book!

    (The abovementioned author, by the way, was Ciji Ware — I took a class with her at UCLA Extension.)

  173. 173
    Cervantes says:

    @jafd: Do any of your arguments suggest that footnotes should be web-only?

  174. 174
    Mandalay says:

    @jafd: You’ve given some good reasons for publishing notes for a book on line, but you didn’t offer any good reasons for excluding them from the physical book.

    ETA I see the previous poster just beat me to it.

  175. 175
    Trollhattan says:

    O/T did not see this coming.

    A federal judge served up a nasty surprise for opponents of abortion in Alabama on Monday, finding that the state’s repressive law is unconstitutional because it creates “an impermissible undue burden” on women seeking abortions (//www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/04/alabama-abortion/13574467/) . Even worse, he compared it to gun rights.

    Judge Myron Thompson decided the ruling based on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 case that also dealt with abortion restrictions. Like North Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin, Alabama passed a law in 2013 that would require abortion providers to meet a slew of new requirements or risk having their practice shut down, among them having admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Alabama gets an F rating from NARAL (//www.prochoiceamerica.org/government-and-you/state-governments/state-profiles/alabama.html) and has five abortion clinics; the law would have shut down three of them because the doctors commute from out of state and wouldn’t be able to fulfill that requirement.

    In a drawn-out gun rights metaphor (//www.nationaljournal.com/health-care/federal-judge-equates-gun-rights-to-abortion-rights-in-alabama-decision-20140804) , he claimed that for both the 2nd amendment and abortion, regulation should not be too heavy or too light, but just right. Alabama’s laws, on the other hand, would unjustly strand just a portion of the state without access to an abortion provider.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelli.....tions.html

  176. 176
    TR says:

    @Cervantes:

    Interesting. Didn’t realize there was a precedent, but this dust up might end it.

  177. 177
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @KG: Can’t speak to 2. although completely defunding services for the mentally handicapped as well as slashing social security payments that went to the disabled seems to be fairly laid at Reagan’s door.

    But I can speak to 1. Sure, the activists may have gone a little over the top blaming Reagan and the lack of funding–it took years and years and new science to start to be able to tackle AIDS beyond palliative care. But first of all, Reagan had a Democratic Congress during his presidency. He had to work with them to get anything done. And Reagan avoided AIDS with a ten foot pole. He would not say anything in public even when his ostensible friends and colleagues were dying. That was deeply cowardly. And to say it had no impact is a lie. Authoritarians especially take cues from their leaders. He chose not to humanize AIDS patients in any way, acting like he couldn’t hear the cries of the dying. A lot of very ugly things were happening to AIDS patients in the 1980s. There was fear and hysteria. And effective measures against spreading the disease were handicapped by the stigma associated with a positive diagnosis.

    And who did Reagan have in his admin? Fucking winger sadists like Ed Meese and that crappy Col Sanders wannabe Surgeon General.

    Reagan pushed “Just Say No” as his big public health campaign, not sex ed, condom usage, and public education on how AIDS is and is not transmitted.

    Just Say No was such a joke, my school system ran DARE, back when it had some teeth and told you all about the cool drugs (DARE quickly turned into a joke, too). Bertrand Russell was absolutely right about the psychology of young children and about how demystifying taboo topics for them reduces the fascination and the hold they have over children. But every generation of parents goes paranoid and thinks that their precious darlings will never grow up if you just withhold information from them. It’ll work next time for sure….

  178. 178
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @TR: Sorry, I didn’t realize you were objecting to the verb “festooned” because that’s not what you said in your first comment. As far as repeating that verb, I agree you have a point.

  179. 179
    TR says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The standard boilerplate contract specifically mentions footnotes in my experience.

    And that’s what I’m arguing from — my experience as an historian who has worked with this same press, and had contracts specifying notes with the same.

    I don’t have ironclad proof that Rick was forced into this. From what I know of him (including three personal chats) and from what I know of the press, I can’t believe this was wholly their action.

    The press might have suggested it, sure. But there is no way they forced it on him. None.

    And if you’re an academic getting pushed around like that, you need to get a new agent.

  180. 180
    Schlemizel says:

    @burnspbesq:
    That is a myth of the right, everyone I know on the left is not buying his tax cutter image.

  181. 181
    Steve says:

    Just as a point of factual clarification, I went back to Perlstein’s Facebook post from last month where he asked his followers (I use this in the social media sense, not the Maoist sense) for their thoughts on the online-only endnotes concept. He made clear that the idea was his, not the publisher’s: “I asked for it myself, without a consideration of saving them money. I’ve been dismayed at how few people ever challenge my sources, and have become convinced that paper notes just aren’t user friendly for people.” Most, though not all, of his followers disagreed with omitting them from the text version. Perlstein accepted the criticism but seemed surprised, as if it hadn’t even occurred to him that people might disagree with the online-only concept. My favorite suggestion came from Prof. Tom Sugrue, a giant in my estimation:

    Rick: I am with those who would have preferred the notes in the back of the book. But I think you can make the best out of the situation and allay the historians’ fears. Make an arrangement with a library or archive to store the web notes. Even great websites like yours are ephemeral, links go bad, and the sources might not show up high in a Google search. Also, major research libraries and archives have the ability to preserve materials for the longue duree, and have systems in place to make sure that electronic materials don’t disappear in ten or twenty years when the technology changes. Do it, brother.

  182. 182
    Elizabelle says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    That’s a wonderful blog. Worth cruising through.

  183. 183
    gene108 says:

    @Fair Economist:

    Basically, racists whites and sexist men had lost some of their privilege as a result of social and governmental changes in the previous 2 decades, and were at risk of losing more.

    Part of it was also the loss of economic standing versus what was perceived people had in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

    The beginnings of income inequality and other modern ills started with the economic problems of the 1970’s. Reagan gave those trends a giant shot in the arm.

  184. 184
    Tone In DC says:

    @Nicole:

    Iran Contra did more to shape my view of government than anything else. I just couldn’t wrap my 15-year-old head around why people got away with it.

    I heard that.
    Literally weeks of Raygun administration officials and their incessant, smug and oh so non-responsive responses to questions. Especially Poindexter with his “I don’t recall” mantra.

  185. 185
    Roger Moore says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    How was everyone so taken in?

    They wanted to be taken in. Reagan’s greatest talent was to make Nixon’s Southern Strategy sound good. He made white Americans comfortable with their racism, and a lot of us were willing to believe anything he said as long as he could do that.

  186. 186
    Schlemizel says:

    @Cervantes:
    True but I always felt Ambrose writing was aimed at book sales than at history. He created many myths in his books that he justified as trying to humanize history.

  187. 187
    H.K. Anders says:

    Of course, there’s nothing to it.

    But now, every time Fox “News” talks about the book, they can refer to the “plagiarism controversy” surrounding it.

  188. 188
    TR says:

    @Another Holocene Human (now with new computer):

    Oh, sorry. Bunting is unavoidable.

    I raised that one sample not because there was any one word that was the key, bit because taken together — “festooned,” “smit peddlers,” the detail about dancers in elephant costumes, etc. just crosses a line for me (and the other academics here too).

    I’m sorry to sound curt. For many of you this might be an issue you’re only thinking about now. But for us (and Rick) this is something that has been pounded into us over and over again on our PhD programs, our professional societies, etcetera

  189. 189
    Schlemizel says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:
    I think of it as a noun ‘Barf-lee’

    had one of my kids been a puker they might have been tagged with that

  190. 190
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TR:

    And if you’re an academic getting pushed around like that, you need to get a new agent.

    We are not academics. We are a corporate department getting published by a different division of the same corporation. Hence the suckitude we have to put up with. My point is that popular press books are not treated the same as academic books, so the rules you deal with may not be the same.

    @Steve:

    Hm. That’s unfortunate. Well, I guess I have to give up defending him since he says he came up with the stupid idea on his own.

  191. 191
    TR says:

    @Cervantes:

    Ah, worse than I recalled. I never read him much

  192. 192
    Corner Stone says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Alabama’s laws, on the other hand, would unjustly strand just a portion of the state without access to an abortion provider.

    Everyone, quickly! To the AbortionPlex!
    Let’s do this thing!

  193. 193
    TR says:

    @Steve:

    Thank you for digging that up.

    And yeah, Sugrue is the best.

  194. 194
    BGinCHI says:

    @Mnemosyne: I said pretty much the same thing further up the thread, so yes, I agree with you. Was just pointing out that after a big advance and all that work and commitment, you aren’t going to blithely tell anyone to cram anything. Armchair QBs love to say that shit. No experience.

    I have had a great experience with the independent press who are publishing my novel. Totally personal and creative and especially good communication.

    I would like to have a lot of money thrown at me and then get mistreated a little bit, though, just to see how it feels. I’m only human.

  195. 195
    Kristin says:

    @Nicole: I wrote a paper about Iran Contra for my American Presidency class in college (1998 or 99, I believe), and I couldn’t wrap my mind around how, with even just the information publicly available to me in just my state college library, these guys weren’t in prison.

  196. 196
    BGinCHI says:

    @Steve: I stand corrected, then. Good catch.

    I still think this is a minor point in comparison to the accusations from Shirley.

    Sloppy does not invalidate the argument. But they should still fix that shit.

  197. 197
    Corner Stone says:

    @Steve:

    Most, though not all, of his followers disagreed with omitting them from the text version. Perlstein accepted the criticism but seemed surprised, as if it hadn’t even occurred to him that people might disagree with the online-only concept

    It’s 20-fucking-14 for hebrews sake! WT everloving fuck?
    I’ve already scheduled a time and date for implanting my consciousness into the world wide web via AOL interfaces and install CDs.
    It’s a mix between cat videos, failblog pics and haiku by Lindsay Lohan.

  198. 198
    Schlemizel says:

    @James E. Powell:
    He also admitted in his book that the St. Reagan goal was not to balance the budget, that none of the insiders believed it would happen. According to Stockman their goal was to bankrupt the US treasury thereby emasculating the Federal government & devolving power to the states.

    Its the Koch plan all along.

  199. 199
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Another Holocene Human (now with new computer):

    Reagan pushed “Just Say No” as his big public health campaign, not sex ed, condom usage, and public education on how AIDS is and is not transmitted.

    So you don’t remember the AIDS mailer that was sent to every household in the United States in 1988?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Reagan — I’m defending “Col. Sanders” Koop, who fought hard to get it created and sent out to everyone in the entire country. Koop really tried to make it clear to all and sundry that AIDS was a public health crisis and that most of the proposals being made by hysterics were fucking stupid because it wasn’t actually that easy to transmit.

  200. 200
    James E. Powell says:

    @gene108:

    Part of it was also the loss of economic standing versus what was perceived people had in the 1950′s and 1960′s.

    That was a big part of it. One of the most effective TV ads had a guy – a white guy of course – saying that the Democrats had done this and that for black people, this and that for women, then “but what have they done for me!!!” at the end.

    So it wasn’t just the loss of economic standing and security – we had already had two pretty big gas crises by 1980 – it was the way that Reagan was able to convince the white middle class that black people were to blame for all their problems.

  201. 201
    Corner Stone says:

    @Kristin:

    (1998 or 99, I believe)

    Sorry. Non credible sourcing. Any real college type author would know if it twere ’98 or ’99.
    Obviously, plagiarist.

  202. 202
    Cacti says:

    @Kristin:

    I wrote a paper about Iran Contra for my American Presidency class in college (1998 or 99, I believe), and I couldn’t wrap my mind around how, with even just the information publicly available to me in just my state college library, these guys weren’t in prison.

    I’ll never forget when Poppy Bush issued lame duck pardons of everyone who could have fingered him for involvement in Iran-Contra, some of whom were recycled into the administration of Bush the lesser.

    Bush crime family indeed.

  203. 203
    Corner Stone says:

    @David Hunt:

    Out of curiosity, who’s number two on the Time Machine Death List?

    Excellent question! Thank you!
    Now, who is numero uno on that list?

  204. 204
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Steve:

    Also, too, that makes it sound as though Perlstein thought he could immunize himself against attacks from the right wing by putting linked sources online that they could check for themselves. That’s what trying to immunize yourself will get you …

  205. 205
    Corner Stone says:

    @Cacti:

    I’ll never forget when Poppy Bush issued lame duck pardons of everyone who could have fingered him for involvement in Iran-Contra, some of whom were recycled into the administration of Bush the lesser.

    Looking forward has always yielded us the best results!

  206. 206
    Mandalay says:

    @Steve:

    I’ve been dismayed at how few people ever challenge my sources…

    Well now Perlstein can be dismayed for a different reason, since someone is challenging his sources.

    The grass is always greener until you actually get to the other side.

  207. 207
    Mandalay says:

    @Steve:

    I’ve been dismayed at how few people ever challenge my sources…

    Well now Perlstein can be dismayed for a different reason, since someone is challenging his sources.

    The grass is always greener until you actually get to the other side.

  208. 208
    Schlemizel says:

    @Kristin:
    They weren’t in prison because on Christmas Eve G. W. H. Bush (spit) pardoned all of them.

    Jerry Ford needs to be in hell for what he did after Watergate if for no other reason because it set the standard.

  209. 209
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Steve: Dude, you win the thread. Actual research, who knew it could settle arguments?

  210. 210
    Bex says:

    I think the tell is how ridiculous the demands in the lawsuit are. Or as a commenter at Charlie Pierce’s place put it, Shirley you jest.

  211. 211
    gogol's wife says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I asked myself that question repeatedly from 1980 to 1988.

  212. 212
    PurpleGirl says:

    Haven’t read the whole thread yet but there is one point I’d like to make: RWR made a career of corporate speeches before getting into politics full time. He gave speeches to corporate honchos at lunches and dinner and made them his fans. He was a buddy of GM’s Welch and that crowd. That’s where his real money came from. He wasn’t a high paid actor and after WWII his acting career for the most part was on the way down. His first wife was making more as an actress than he was and was in more demand for movies. (One reason they divorced.) He even tried to become a Vegas entertainer! Then the corporate boys saw in him the perfect person to become their mouthpiece and, voila, he was made. Created and paid for by his corporate masters.

    And I saw through him from the beginning. I didn’t vote him as president, and had I lived in CA, would never have voted for him as governor.

  213. 213
    Mandalay says:

    @Steve:

    Make an arrangement with a library or archive to store the web notes.

    That, and also ensure that the author cannot directly update the web notes in situ. All updates to the notes need to be dated and versioned.

  214. 214
    Mandalay says:

    @Steve:

    Make an arrangement with a library or archive to store the web notes.

    That, and also ensure that the author cannot directly update the web notes in situ. All updates to the notes need to be dated and versioned.

  215. 215
    David Hunt says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Now, who is numero uno on that list?

    Hitler tops will tops that list with such regularity that it’s become a cliche that the first thing anyone who events a time machine must do is kill him. I’m sure that tvtropes.org has an article about it somewhere. I had assumed that Hitler got the number one spot in a no-bid contract. So if Reagan was #3, it had me wondering who #2 would be.

  216. 216
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @David Hunt:

    it had me wondering who #2 would be.

    It had better be Pauly Shore.

    Or Bieber.

  217. 217
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @David Hunt:

    it had me wondering who #2 would be.

    It had better be Pauly Shore.

    Or Bieber.

  218. 218
    jafd says:

    @Mandalay:
    (also Cervantes)

    Well, aside from the extra bulk and weight they add to the book, and the trees cut down for paper, having notes online and in print would be good. And ponies…

    Also, considering online footnotes, there’s the ability to keep a browser tab on your laptop open to the notes while reading, instead of having to keep flipping back and forth with two bookmarks falling out and juggling the pad and pen you’re using to copy down material from the notes into your ‘wannaread list’ …

    We should consider, while we’re at it, the ability of a reader with no academic connections to access “no longer fresh” books. In a few years after publication, when the budget-constrained local libraries have ‘weeded’ their shelves, even serious works may be hard to find. ‘Electronic reference libraries’ may benefit the amateur scholar ever more than paper ones.

  219. 219
    Corner Stone says:

    @David Hunt:

    So if Reagan was #3, it had me wondering who #2 would be.

    I’m not so sure Hitler is #1. Don’t get me wrong – evil asshole. But if he’s dead, when do you do it? And isn’t post WWI Germany ripe for some crazy asshole to push them into a BS spot? Maybe that crazy asshole is straight up diabolical like myself, and doesn’t attack Russia? Oooo, the time machine paradox! I live for this shit!
    But, just for the sake of argument, let’s posit that Pol Pot and Stalin fight to the death for the #2 spot!
    Whoever loses goes right behind John Cole’s mancrush Uncle Ronnie and into #4.

  220. 220
    Corner Stone says:

    @jafd:

    We should consider, while we’re at it, the ability of a reader with no academic connections to access “no longer fresh” books. In a few years after publication, when the budget-constrained local libraries have ‘weeded’ their shelves, even serious works may be hard to find. ‘Electronic reference libraries’ may benefit the amateur scholar ever more than paper ones.

    No doubt. If we’re going to stay tight with First World Problems, it’s much more advantageous to have them linked around the world than in a hard copy that only some number of people/readers could get their hands on.

  221. 221
    Nicole says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Reagan — I’m defending “Col. Sanders” Koop, who fought hard to get it created and sent out to everyone in the entire country. Koop really tried to make it clear to all and sundry that AIDS was a public health crisis and that most of the proposals being made by hysterics were fucking stupid because it wasn’t actually that easy to transmit.

    And he had to fight for it: Reagan forbade him from speaking about AIDS for some years. I don’t remember the mailer, but here’s a piece on it. Thanks for mentioning that bit of history; this was interesting to read about:

    http://www.ultimatehistoryproj.....ailer.html

  222. 222
    James E. Powell says:

    @David Hunt:

    I am always surprised, and a little disappointed, that no one wants to go back in time, meet the teen-aged Hitler and convince him to move to New York and peddle his drawings there. Or maybe go back even further and kidnap him when he was an infant, put him into foster care with a pair of loving parents in Wisconsin. Seriously, he wasn’t born to be history’s most often cited monster, he just grew that way in response to a very specific series of events.

    See also the end of the Russian film Иди и смотри – Come and See.

  223. 223
    Trollhattan says:

    @Corner Stone:
    Let’s go, y’all.

    “The AbortionPlex–brought to you by Captain Morgan, and Arby’s. Ask about our three-fer deal, this week only, at The AbortionPlex!”

  224. 224
    MomSense says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    His first wife was making more as an actress than he was and was in more demand for movies. (One reason they divorced.)

    I wore a “Jane Wyman was right” pin all through high school.

  225. 225
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Nicole:

    I am old enough to remember getting it in the mail, so that’s why I was a little startled at the attack on Koop. He was a pro-lifer, but he was a doctor first and he was far more concerned with the public health problems around AIDS than he was in shaking fingers at “immoral” people.

  226. 226
    Cervantes says:

    @MomSense: I like your style.

    Was it in the ’80s?

  227. 227
    J R in WV says:

    @Julia Grey:

    How old are you; I ask not to be ungentlemanly, but because JFK has been dead since 1963, more than 50 years. I’m an old, retired, and I remember playing the piano in one room and hearing my Mom in the den scream when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald in the Dallas Police garage, surrounded with gawking lookie-lous.

    He (JFK) was polished, well spoken, educated, brave, a hero in the South Pacific commanding a tiny plywood torpedo boat, out in the dark hunting ships orders of magnitude larger than his command. We will never know how good a president he was, as he was cut down half way through his first term.

    Reagan was a crooked lying Nazi actor, who was demented by the middle of his first term.

  228. 228
    central texas says:

    @TR:

    Do I understand you to believe those phrases are original to either Mr. Shirley or Reagan? That is very, very difficult to believe. The former has been in every popular history of the Civil War I’ve ever read and the second a lazy shorthand since, at least, the mid 50s.

  229. 229
    Corner Stone says:

    @J R in WV:

    He (JFK) was polished, well spoken, educated, brave, a hero in the South Pacific commanding a tiny plywood torpedo boat, out in the dark hunting ships orders of magnitude larger than his command.

    I’m sorry, but there is simply no getting past the caricature done of the Kennedy Clan by the TV show The Simpsons and their version, the Quimbys.
    That pretty much puts paid to any polish the Kennedys ever tried to slip on.

  230. 230
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @central texas: A quick search on the term in scholar.google indicates that the phrase “festooned with red-white-and-blue bunting” had been used before Shirely used it in 2005.

  231. 231
    Cervantes says:

    @Mnemosyne: “Chicken” Koop was a Dartmouth man through and through. He was lucky to have served as Surgeon General in an era when Republicans still had not figured out how to totally deny, and even prevent, science.

  232. 232
    TR says:

    @central texas: @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    Good lord, are you people trying to be dense?

    Yes, other people have used that phrase before in the history of the English language. But when it is repeated, along with three other verbatim quotes, in an anecdote that copies the details, tone, and structure, without any attribution, then yes, according to the standards of the historical profession, that is over the line.

    And when that happens 45 different times, it’s a serious problem.

    But fuck, what do I know as an historian of 30 years? You junior detectives keep examining the kerning.

  233. 233
    Cervantes says:

    @J R in WV:

    commanding a tiny plywood torpedo boat

    Not to gainsay the rest of your comment but this “plywood” bit is not accurate. The hulls of those PT boats were made of mahogany planking, one inch thick. There were two layers of mahogany and a layer of coarse canvas in between, the whole thing held together with brass screws.

    Plywood as people know it today is rather different.

  234. 234
    Cervantes says:

    @TR:

    And when that happens 45 different times, it’s a serious problem.

    I have not yet counted in this particular case but yes, in general, frequency does matter.

  235. 235
    J R in WV says:

    @TR:

    You say “Draped. Decorated. Outfitted. Hung.” I ask with what? Draped with Red White and Blue Bunting, Hung with… Bunting, etc.

    So what is draped… What is Decorating? etc. Let’s try, “you are so full of shit you are Draped with it, Outfitted with it…” how does that work?

  236. 236
    Corner Stone says:

    @TR:

    Good lord, are you people trying to be dense?

    I hope this is as festooned with goodness as I expect it to be.

  237. 237
    MomSense says:

    @Cervantes:

    Yes, graduated in ’86.

  238. 238
    TR says:

    @J R in WV:

    It’s a good thing I haven’t explicitly made it clear I don’t think the bunting part is the issue. Otherwise, you’d look like an idiot.

    For the last time — it’s not one word, one page, one anecdote. It’s a pattern of using the same prose to describe the same things. That is called plagiarism in the historical profession.

    You may disagree. But as I and the other historians and academics have been trying to explain, it is dangerously close to plagiarism, if not that exactly. That’s the range of debate in my profession right now.

    I personally think it wasn’t deliberate and was merely sloppy. But since you disagree, let me send you this original novel I wrote called A Tale of Two Towns. I begin it with a great line: “It was the best of times, it was the worst time ever.”

    What? All those words have been used before, so I’m in the clear, right?

  239. 239
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @TR:

    It’s not just ideas and concepts that are borrowed, but some exact phrases — there was one where Perlstein used “festooned with red-white-and-blue bunting” and “smut peddlers” from the original without reference.

    This from you is what elicited my response. I see now that you provided further context in another comment. From the phrasing of the first comment, it did appear that you were claim that it was phrases like “festooned in red-white-and blue bunting” there were problematic in your view.

    For instance, page 287 of Shirley’s “Reagan’s Revolution” states: “Even its ‘red light’ district was festooned with red, white, and blue bunting, as dancing elephants were placed in the windows of several smut peddlers.”

    Page 771 of “The Invisible Bridge” says: “The city’s anemic red-light district was festooned with red, white and blue bunting; several of the smut peddlers featured dancers in elephant costume in their windows.”

    That really should have a citation. Have you looked at the online cites now that you know of them to see that it doesn’t? As an attorney of 18 years, the use of proper citation matters to me as well. But when you word your comments so that it looks like you are suggesting the Shirely coined some clunky cliches in 2005, people my respond as though you were suggesting the Shirely coined some clunky cliches in 2005.

  240. 240
    Cervantes says:

    @smintheus:

    @Cervantes: Had dinner once with Ambrose when he was giving a talk at our institution. What a buffoon.

    I’d like to disagree, but can I? Sadly, no.

  241. 241
    Cervantes says:

    @J R in WV: Sorry, I don’t understand your comment.

  242. 242
    Bruce Baugh says:

    Side thought: Was C. Everett Koop the last high-ranking Republican in the executive branch to genuinely take his responsibility to the whole country seriously? He fought back on lies about abortion despite being anti-choice himself, he fought to get true info about AIDS out, he reported on the facts about nicotine’s addictiveness. I don’t think I can point to any later examples of Republicans willing to take up the interests they’re allegedly appointed to deal with against Republican obsessions and sources of dough.

  243. 243
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Cervantes: A lot of people (including myself ) were reacting to TR’s comment at 29 not the later ones which fleshed out TR’s objections/concerns.

  244. 244
    Elizabelle says:

    @Bruce Baugh:

    Answering your query would take more thinking about Republicans than I care to do, but I am glad to see Dr. Koop get some attention and respect, because he did have the public’s good at heart and took his job seriously.

  245. 245
    Corner Stone says:

    “The bunting…it festoons us…”

  246. 246
    TR says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Koop is a fascinating figure. One of the true believers who were added to the administration as a sop to the religious right, but once in office he actually did his duty — even when it contradicted his own deeply held religious beliefs — and served the public good.

    Too bad the rest of the appointments meant to appease the religious right were so awful. I’m looking at you, James Watt.

  247. 247
    TR says:

    @Bruce Baugh:

    The elder Bush’s chief of staff wasn’t bad. He’s the one who pushed cap and trade forward to deal with acid rain, making it the rights pet proposal right up until the second Obama agreed with them, when it became soci@l!sm

  248. 248
    Bruce Baugh says:

    TR: thanks, happy to add him to the list, then. Honestly, I like to ahve reasons to think well of people, but only when there’s actual reason to.

  249. 249
    Cervantes says:

    @TR:

    The elder Bush’s chief of staff wasn’t bad.

    Sununu? Skinner? Baker?

  250. 250
    J R in WV says:

    @Corner Stone:

    You may be correct, I’ve heard of the Simpsons, but never watched it, never ever.

    We barely have TV here in the woods, and even if we had it all, I would still only watch football. How about that Hall of Fame game Sunday? Wow!! football is back, what a relief!!

    Mostly college, but some NFL, just because of the timing. I’m hoping the NCAA players get on the payroll, it’s a shame for the coach to get ALL the money!

    What were we talking about? Oh, yeh, the end of the world as we knew it. All Reagan’s fault. And I’m not talking about all the Kennedys, Just J F K. Even in a Republican family at the age of 12, I knew he was a martyr, whatever that was. Confusing, wasn’t it?

  251. 251
    Cervantes says:

    @Bruce Baugh:

    Side thought: Was C. Everett Koop the last high-ranking Republican in the executive branch to genuinely take his responsibility to the whole country seriously?

    No, I’d say that was the late Dick Darman, GHWB’s campaign aide and then OMB Director.

    Remember that idiotic “Read my lips, no new taxes” pledge (penned by Peggy Noonan)? As campaign aide Darman tried to convince the candidate not to make the pledge. As Director of OMB he convinced the president to break the pledge, raising taxes in order to help improve the nation’s finances. The shift cost both men dearly.

  252. 252
    Russell60 says:

    @Ernest Pikeman: I read them back to back, and they really were like Vol. I and Vol. II of the same giant book. I’m guessing this latest one is Vol. III.

  253. 253
    J R in WV says:

    @Cervantes: Sorry, just trying to make a funny joke. You used verbs without any nouns, so I supplied some nouns. Or were they adjectives?

    I was fixing dinner, then we ate dinner, then I saw you were confused because my comment didn’t make sense to you. Now I’m appoligizing to you because it wasn’t intended to make sense.

    Let’s meet here tomorrow to resume the conversation! What were we talking about again? Ron Reagan, wasn’t it? The most evil (R) president except for W Bush, wasn’t it? Or was it fottball? whatever…sorry.

  254. 254
    Elizabelle says:

    @TR:

    Amused at your recalling James Watt, because I was thinking of him as the anti-Koop as I typed about our esteemed former Surgeon General.

    Didn’t Watt come up with “Let Reagan be Reagan”?

    Remember being at the 4th of July fireworks on the Mall during the Reagan years, and we were joking that James Watt and his guests were probably ensconced at the top of the Washington Monument.

    Nonentity in the Cabinet.

  255. 255
    Elizabelle says:

    @J R in WV:

    I saw JFK in life. He came to Hawaii in July 1963, in the bubble-less convertible.

    Too young to understand just who we had turned out to see, but JFK is in our family movies, in between birthday parties and other family occasions.

    I remember the JFK portraits in people’s homes (after his passing). Touching.

    He had many good instincts. He would have grown into his job, and did it pretty well (and certainly, wittily) while he had it.

  256. 256
    Cervantes says:

    @J R in WV:

    You used verbs without any nouns, so I supplied some nouns. Or were they adjectives?

    Sorry, you must be talking about someone else.

    But not to worry — enjoy the evening!

  257. 257
    theod says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: After a series of what was perceived as failed Presidents (JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter) the country was in need of a sunny optimist that would make the populace feel good again. So it hired an actor with a set of clever scriptwriters and a secret supply of fairy dust (trickle-down economics) to supply a feel-good balm. It didn’t really work for very long, but the cult of personality that came along with it is still active. Some of them want to put him on the $10 bill.

  258. 258
    TR says:

    @Cervantes:

    None of he above. I was thinking of C. Boyden Gray, but he was White House counsel not chief of staff. But the story is still interesting.

    Sununu was and still is a gaping asshole.

  259. 259
    TR says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Bill Clark is generally credited with coining the term, but it was used most often by his core advisers from the California governors office — Deaver, etc.

  260. 260
    Corner Stone says:

    @J R in WV: No. Uh,.. I…ribeye? Ok, football…FOOTBALL!! Fuck yeah!
    I like horseradish in my cocktail sauce.

  261. 261
    Elizabelle says:

    @TR:

    Ah. So Watt was not even being original. Gotcha.

  262. 262
    Cervantes says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Didn’t Watt come up with “Let Reagan be Reagan”?

    Not at all. Bill Clark is usually credited with it but, as I recall it, he was trying to convey the approach that he and Ed Meese and other old California aides took with Reagan — as opposed to the more (and justifiably) cautious “packaged” approach taken by James Baker and Mike Deaver.

    Another way of looking at it: most of Reagan’s old California klatsch thought no one would notice or mind Reagan’s profound shallowness; whereas Baker and Deaver were horrified by it and tried to hide it as far as possible.

    And yes, “profound shallowness” is an oxymoron. Why do you ask?

  263. 263
    Cervantes says:

    @TR:

    None of he above. I was thinking of C. Boyden Gray, but he was White House counsel not chief of staff. But the story is still interesting.

    Yes, I was wondering what mysterious connection you saw between the others and “cap and trade”!

    Anyhow, while Gray did, indeed, do some good things in re the environment, I am less than enamored because of his generally right-wing views. He has long been a member of the Federalist Society. I believe he’s on the board of FreedomWorks. Plus, worst, I suspect he was not on the side of the angels when he advised GHWB re Iran-Contra.

    Sununu was and still is a gaping asshole.

    Once again, I’d like to disagree, but can I? Sadly, no.

    (His son’s no great shakes, either.)

  264. 264

    @TR: ” The website is a great innovation, but it should only have been used to supplement the physical endnotes in the book, not to supplant them.[…] The cost of endnotes in a book like this would be negligible, and a brief summary of his sources would’ve cost nothing at all.”

    I doubt the decision was left to the author. You may be a very good historian, but I don’t think you know publishing. (So perhaps you are not so much of a historian.)

  265. 265
  266. 266

    @Cervantes: Oh, I see.

    Myself, I prefer footnotes (because they can be read on the same page if one is reading on-screen) and a bibliography, and I am sensitive to the issue of archiving, but many people are not even aware of it, including some, like Perlstein, who really ought to know better. Still, complaining that the notes are unavailable hardly seems fair when it is straightforward to download and print them.

    TR: As to plagiarism, well, “For the last time — it’s not one word, one page, one anecdote. It’s a pattern of using the same prose to describe the same things. That is called plagiarism in the historical profession.”

    In other words, it’s a specialized academic use of the term “plagiarism,” not a legal usage, nor even, perhaps, what most writers would call plagiarism.

    “But as I and the other historians and academics have been trying to explain, it is dangerously close to plagiarism, if not that exactly.”

    Perlstein is, after all, a journalist, not an academic historian, and it seems unfair to impose someone else’s professional standards on him. It seems to me, TR, that you are objecting to his not writing like a historian. Probably not, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t justify having the book erased from history. And this academic argument is being used to justify that.

    And TR, how do you feel about having your thoughts used for character assassination and the suppression of written work? Because that is what is being done.

  267. 267

    @Joel Hanes: “He was, above all, an actor, always playing a part, always aware of the audience, always aware of how he was coming off.”

    It seems to me that Perlstein is making a case that Presidential politics has become performance art.

    Krawww….

  268. 268
    Chris says:

    @theod:

    After a series of what was perceived as failed Presidents (JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter) the country was in need of a sunny optimist that would make the populace feel good again.

    Yeah, this is what I’ve long figured (not having lived through it, but having read plenty about it) was the key to Reagan’s success. The sixties and seventies were one long exercise in the country losing its bullshit self-image and having to face everything that was ugly about it. Civil rights movements putting the lie to our claims about “land of opportunity” and “liberty and justice for all,” Vietnam challenging the image of our country and our military as a force for good in the world, Watergate and Church Committee hearings challenging our illusions about the integrity of the presidency and the executive branch…

    Reagan came along and told everybody that the real problem with America wasn’t all of these things, but rather the journalists and activists and intellectuals who were telling us about them; that we should stop worrying about them and instead just go back to navel-gazing about how awesome America was; that all these DFHs were just trying to slander America’s good name because they were jealous of how awesome it was. (That last one is still a gospel truth on the right, now shorthanded to “why do you hate America?” It also clicks beautifully with their economic gospel, which portrays the left as nothing but greedy, grasping, bitter losers who’re just trying to tear down those who do great things because they’re jealous of their success.)

    The Reagan era is when the liberal-tinged vision of patriotism as “we love our country and want to make sure it lives up to its ideals and keeps becoming a more perfect union” was definitively buried and replaced with the conservative vision of “we love our country so much we don’t want to face the fact that it might not live up to its ideals, and will stick our fingers in our ears and hum loudly if anyone dares to say different.”

    So it hired an actor with a set of clever scriptwriters and a secret supply of fairy dust (trickle-down economics) to supply a feel-good balm

    Doc Brown’s line “no wonder your president’s an actor: he has to look good on television!” might just be the best summary of his presidency.

  269. 269
    Chris says:

    @Joel Hanes:

    In my mind, he’s the worst President ever, and did more to damage this nation even than Buchanan or Johnson or W.

    I waffle on whether he or W was worse. Certainly W left the country in worse shape than any president since Hoover and possibly Buchanan. But there’s a pretty good argument to be made that while the Bush administration was when the bombs went off, the Reagan administration is when the bombs were placed and armed and the fuses lit, and therefore the whole thing should be laid at his feet.

  270. 270
    Chris says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Can we get Mr. Perlstein here for a book discussion? That would be marvy.

    Second the motion. The Nixonland book talk was one of the best things this blog ever did.

  271. 271
    Chris says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    Haven’t read the whole thread yet but there is one point I’d like to make: RWR made a career of corporate speeches before getting into politics full time. He gave speeches to corporate honchos at lunches and dinner and made them his fans. He was a buddy of GM’s Welch and that crowd. That’s where his real money came from. He wasn’t a high paid actor and after WWII his acting career for the most part was on the way down. His first wife was making more as an actress than he was and was in more demand for movies. (One reason they divorced.) He even tried to become a Vegas entertainer! Then the corporate boys saw in him the perfect person to become their mouthpiece and, voila, he was made. Created and paid for by his corporate masters.

    I recall hearing before that Reagan’s career had basically gotten off the ground when a group of California businessmen decided to finance a politician who could give them everything they wanted [basically, movement conservative reforms as we’ve seen them since the seventies], figured Reagan was the perfect public face to put on it, and approached him.

    Does Perlstein’s book go into that much?

  272. 272
    TR says:

    @The Raven on the Hill:

    Actually, as Steve showed above, Rick has claimed full responsibility for the decision to discard the endnotes in the book and go solely with the online version.

    But thanks for disparaging my abilities as an historian and my experiences with the press all the same.

    Man, for all the comments here about Saint Reagan, the holy defenders of Rick Perlstein sure seem to think he’s infallible too.

  273. 273
    TR says:

    @The Raven on the Hill:

    Rick was an undergrad in history at Chicago and did graduate work in history at Michigan, two top departments. He presents at universities all the time, and he claims the title of an historian for himself, so he should abide by the standards of the field he’s claimed.

    But seeing how you’ve just presented my mild objections to the plagiarism danger and my larger concerns about the lack of footnotes as my wanting “to erase the book from history” forever and ever, I’ll just assume you’re incapable of civil debate and ignore you.

    But hey, congrats on destroying that straw man.

  274. 274
    TR says:

    @Chris:

    Yep, but this is a standard story in the rise of Reagan. As always, Rick tells it well, but it’s not really new ground he’s breaking. Nothing wrong with that though — we need good synthesizers and popularizers. Too many academic historians seem to write for three fellow experts.

  275. 275
    Cervantes says:

    @Glocksman:

    During the 1988 campaign I remember hearing an explanation of Dukakis’s ‘Massachusetts Miracle’ that said something similar. “Ronald Reagan initiated the largest peacetime military buildup in US history using borrowed money, Tip O’Neill directed a large part of that buildup to his home state, and Michael Dukakis was there to take the credit.”

    Massachusetts has received a larger-than-average share of federal defense spending from the 1950s on, and that money has certainly helped develop the state. In the Reagan era, Massachusetts received an even-larger-than-average share of defense spending — but it also sustained cuts in federal spending in areas other than defense.

  276. 276
    Chris says:

    @TR:

    I don’t know how much “new ground” there actually is to break in regards to Reagan, unless someone comes up with, say, solid evidence that he really did conspire with Khomeini during the hostage crisis like Nixon did in the 68 peace talks. Most of the stories about the evil the man did are out there, and documented for that matter.

    The value of books like Perlstein’s is, first of all, synthesizing and popularizing it like you said – all these stories we already knew gathered in one place, explained better, plus whatever stories I didn’t know before.

    And second, just the value of having someone as recognized as Perlstein talking about it. It’s one thing for people on liberal blogs to tell each other and the occasional passerby things that puncture the Reagan myth – it’s something else when someone like Perlstein writes books like this about it. As with Paul Krugman in economics, he may be get lots of loathing for it, there may still be better money in repeating right wing memes, but it’s not something that can be simply ignored or dismissed as extremists on the fringes of the spectrum talking BS.

  277. 277
    Cervantes says:

    @TR:

    Man, for all the comments here about Saint Reagan, the holy defenders of Rick Perlstein sure seem to think he’s infallible too.

    Astute observation.

    What some people learn from suffering the idolatry of others is that they need their own iconoclastic idols: if Rick Perlstein can finally destroy some aspects of the Reagan myth, then any enemy of Perlstein is my enemy, too, and must be castigated and cast out. That sort of thing.

    A similar thing happens with Snowden/Greenwald v. Obama, too, and others.

    In a a way it’s … sweet … but it’s also silly … and obvious. I wouldn’t take it personally, if I were you.

  278. 278
    Lee Hartmann says:

    @TR: Touchy, aren’t you? “if that’s all you got” translates into “everything I ever learned is worthless (expletive deleted) is… revealing. As quite an old person – I can assure you that I myself have heard “festooned with bunting” many decades ago.

  279. 279
    TR says:

    @Chris:

    There actually is new ground, as the Reagan library is finally starting to let loose some previously unreleased documents, thanks largely to the work of some dogged scholars making FOIA requests. (Hell, we’re still learning new stuff about Nixon.) I’ve got a couple of grad students who are finding terrific material out there. Nothing on Khomeni, though.

    @Cervantes:

    Thanks. Once more, for the Holy Defenders — I know Rick personally, I like his work and have assigned it in courses. But I (and most of the historical profession) is just a little bewildered that he got sloppy here and left himself vulnerable to partisan attacks that he absolutely had to know were coming.

    @Lee Hartmann:

    For the last time, since you seem to be almost intentionally trying to be stupid about this — it’s not that he used the one phrase “festooned with red-white-and-blue bunting,” and no one in the history of mankind had ever used that phrase; it’s that he took *four* such phrases from a *single* sentence in another book on the exact same topic and offered no documentation, and then he did that another 45 times.

    That’s just one source that’s spoken up. It suggests a larger pattern that is deeply problematic. I don’t think it was intentional; I think Rick’s just moving too fast and let himself get sloppy. I don’t think the lawsuit has any merit and will rightfully be laughed out of court. But it’s still a serious issue.

    You may think this is small potatoes, but among historians — and Rick calls himself one — this is actually a big deal.

    Here’s a pretty good take from Ari Kelman that sums up my own attitude, and from the comments, a few more historians as well.

  280. 280
    WereBear says:

    I appreciate the heads up, used the link to virtually run over and get the eBook. Will reserve a weekend where all my exclamations, cursing, and astonishment will be given full flower.

    And I respect the comments here which explains HOW he’s gotten sloppy… that’s important. I know the other side does not care and makes things up… which also makes a right wing complaint about scholarship the thing of derision it should be.

    But we also cannot look too long into the abyss.

  281. 281
    Cervantes says:

    @TR: Thanks for the link to Kelman’s article. I looked at the comments there as well, yours included.

    You write (above) that Perlstein

    offered no documentation

    For what, do you mean?

  282. 282
    TR says:

    @Cervantes:

    I didn’t comment there actually — TR doesn’t stand for Tenured Radical. That’s the sharp Claire Potter, who runs a great blog at CHE. Don’t hold her accountable for my ramblings here!

    That claim was inaccurate: he does have documentation on the website, I suppose, but the (admittedly advance) copy I read lacked proper attribution.

    If you’re interested, check out Sam Tanenhaus’s review at the Atlantic. His take is pretty good.

  283. 283
    Cervantes says:

    @TR:

    I didn’t comment there actually — TR doesn’t stand for Tenured Radical. That’s the sharp Claire Potter, who runs a great blog at CHE. Don’t hold her accountable for my ramblings here!

    Oops, my mistake. Wasn’t thinking.

    That claim was inaccurate: he does have documentation on the website, I suppose

    Ample documentation, as Kelman says. I lost count of how many times he mentions Shirley, for example.

    but the (admittedly advance) copy I read lacked proper attribution.

    Is it fair in your view to judge him by omissions in an advance copy?

    If you’re interested, check out Sam Tanenhaus’s review at the Atlantic. His take is pretty good.

    Thanks, I’ll take a look later today.

  284. 284
    TR says:

    @Cervantes:

    Is it fair in your view to judge him by omissions in an advance copy?

    Fair-ish? Those are the copies sent out to reviewers, after all, so that’s the version most people wind up hearing about.

    I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now that I’m hearing the same complaints from people who have the final version, it’s caused me to have second thoughts.

  285. 285
    jafd says:

    Having read thru the comments again, I am left with the unanswered question

    Did the smut peddlers of (whatever city this is about) have in their windows:
    real elephants, trained to dance ?
    pictures of elephants, or toy animal elephants, in dancing poses ?
    young ladies costumed as elephants ?
    something entirely different ? (German WWII super-heavy tanks, maybe ?)

    The world wonders

  286. 286
    Cervantes says:

    @TR:

    Fair-ish? Those are the copies sent out to reviewers, after all, so that’s the version most people wind up hearing about.

    Maybe it’s fair-ish if the author made, or acquiesced in, or even noticed, the decision to leave out of the Advance Uncorrected Proof any mention of where footnotes could (eventually) be found?

    Plus, I’ve seen more than a few Advance Uncorrected Proofs, too, and there’s often an accompanying cover letter where useful caveats are made (if not read).

    I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now that I’m hearing the same complaints from people who have the final version, it’s caused me to have second thoughts.

    I think that given the topic — Ronald Wilson Reagan, for crying out loud — Perlstein and Simon & Schuster simply, and inexcusably, did not think far enough ahead. (Or they wanted the controversy — but I doubt it.)

    As for the people accusing Perlstein of plagiarism now that everyone knows where all the footnotes are …

  287. 287
    Cervantes says:

    @jafd: Kansas City, where the Republicans held their nominating convention in 1976.

    Kansas City, Missouri, to be precise.

  288. 288
    Alex S. says:

    Interesting. I think there’s something to the criticism. Thanks, TR. I thought that John would accept the academic reasons for the critique (although of course the reaction of Mr. Shirley is a little hysteric, a little. Sam Tanenhaus raises a couple of good points.

  289. 289
    Bill Arnold says:

    Bought my physical copy just now, motivated by the $25M lawsuit and the demand that all physical copies be destroyed.
    Reminds me for no good reason of the$2 undecillion lawsuit against Au Bon Pain Store and others.
    (via)

  290. 290

    @TR: “But seeing how you’ve just presented my mild objections to the plagiarism danger and my larger concerns about the lack of footnotes as my wanting ‘to erase the book from history’ forever and ever, I’ll just assume you’re incapable of civil debate and ignore you.”

    I am angry, but not at you and I didn’t say that.

    What I did say is that academic objections are being used by someone who has sued to have all extant copies of the book destroyed and Perlstein’s voice silenced. We’ve seen this story in climate science, where the qualifications of scholarly rhetoric, among other things, are being used to cast doubt on the strong evidence of anthropogenic global climate change.

    This is not the time for a civil debate–we need more outrage directed at the people who do such things.

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