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Historian Rick Perlstein has traced the rise of modern American conservatism across four weighty tomes. His latest release picks up in the late ’70s, when Ronald Reagan launched a bid for the presidency despite being deemed by many to be too conservative and too old. Perlstein enlivens what could be a dull or rote historical reading with acute character studies and tense faceoffs; he also traces the overarching strategic choices that laid the groundwork for Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump and the Republican party as we know it today. (Trump himself makes an early appearance in the book.)

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