Reagan Speaks: The Making of an American Myth

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9780814721674: Reagan Speaks: The Making of an American Myth

In this portrait of the president who was one of the most persuasive political speakers of moern times, Paul D.Erickson explores the combination of the extraordinary rhetorical powers of the man and the canny manipulations of his staff that gave him his astounding political success. A penetrating critique of the effects of speechifying, "Reagan Speaks" is also an analysis of the persona of the American public. For if Reagan skillfully altered facts, made history into allegory, created "stock" characters who personified good and evil, and used metaphors, myths and anecdotes to convince the public that his way was the only just and moral way, he also gave us what we wanted. Reducing the unarguably complex issues of our times to simple allegories, he convinced, cajoled and captured the American public with easy answers, a guarantee that America was number one, and the implication, always, that there was a simple way out.

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From Library Journal:

Erickson brings the unique perspective of an English professor to the study of Reagan's political communication, arguing that through the use of ``idealistic inspiration or cynical manipulation,'' the president has become the most persuasive contemporary political speaker. A wealth of sample speeches illustrates Reagan's rhetorical tools: couching anecdotes in universal, nonverifiable terms; personifying the struggle between the American good and Soviet evil; according his political ideals apocalyptic dimensions to create a sense of urgency; and characterizing the 20th century as a crusade between faith and intellect. Reagan's rhetorical facility is attributed to the successful manipulation of the consubstantiation processin which audiences see the speaker as a projection of themselves. This provocative study is recommended for political science and speech collections. Karl Helicher, Wolfsohn Memorial Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Published by New York University Press (1985)
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