Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Rick Perlstein  

Pen Name: None

Genre: History Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1969 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Illinois Connection

Pearlstein graduated from the University of Chicago. He moved back to Chicago in 2002.

Biographical and Professional Information

Rick Perlstein is an author, editor, political historian and ''Rolling Stone'' magazine columnist. He is also a former writer for the ''Village Voice'' and the ''New Republic''. He has written two books about US politics and is currently working on a third and final volume in his trilogy, covering the years 1973 to 1980.Perlstein's articles have appeared in many publications including ''Newsweek'', ''Slate'', ''Newsday The Nation'', ''The New York Times'', ''The New York Observer'', ''The Washington Post'', ''Chicago Tribune'', ''San Francisco Chronicle'', ''Los Angeles Times'', ''Arizona Republic'', the ''London Review of Books'', ''Newsday'', ''Columbia Journalism Review'' and ''The New Yorker''.In 1992, Perlstein received a B.A. in history from the University of Chicago. He also spent two years in the PhD program in American culture at the University of Michigan.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus
ISBN: 1568584121

Nation Books. 2009

Acclaimed historian Rick Perlstein chronicles the rise of the conservative movement in the liberal 1960s. At the heart of the story is Barry Goldwater, the renegade Republican from Arizona who loathed federal government, despised liberals, and mocked “peaceful coexistence” with the USSR. Perlstein's narrative shines a light on a whole world of conservatives and their antagonists, including William F. Buckley, Nelson Rockefeller, and Bill Moyers. Vividly written, Before the Storm is an essential book about the 1960s.

The Stock Ticker and the Superjumbo: How the Democrats Can Once Again Become America's Dominant Political Party
ISBN: 0976147505

Prickly Paradigm Press. 2005

A majority of Americans tell pollsters they want more government intervention to reduce the gap between high- and lower-income citizens, and less than one-third consider high taxes to be a problem. Yet conservative Republicanism currently controls the political discourse. Why?

Rick Perlstein probes this central paradox of today's political scene in his penetrating pamphlet. Perlstein explains how the Democrats' obsessive short-term focus on winning "swing voters," instead of cultivating loyal party-liners, has relegated Democrats to political stagnation. Perlstein offers a vigorous critique and far-reaching vision that is a thirty-year plan for Democratic victory.

William A. Galston
Adolph Reed, Jr.
Ruy Teixeira
Dan Carol
Daniel Cantor
Robert B. Reich
Michael C. Dawson
Elaine Kamarck
Richard Delgado
Stanley Aronowitz
Philip Klinkner
Larry M. Bartels

Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America
ISBN: 074324303X

Scribner. 2009

Told with urgency and sharp political insight, Nixonland recaptures America's turbulent 1960s and early 1970s and reveals how Richard Nixon rose from the political grave to seize and hold the presidency.

Perlstein's epic account begins in the blood and fire of the 1965 Watts riots, nine months after Lyndon Johnson's historic landslide victory over Barry Goldwater appeared to herald a permanent liberal consensus in the United States. Yet the next year, scores of liberals were tossed out of Congress, America was more divided than ever, and a disgraced politician was on his way to a shocking comeback: Richard Nixon.

Between 1965 and 1972, America experienced no less than a second civil war. Out of its ashes, the political world we know now was born. It was the era not only of Nixon, Johnson, Spiro Agnew, Hubert H. Humphrey, George McGovern, Richard J. Daley, and George Wallace but Abbie Hoffman, Ronald Reagan, Angela Davis, Ted Kennedy, Charles Manson, John Lindsay, and Jane Fonda. There are tantalizing glimpses of Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Jesse Jackson, John Kerry, and even of two ambitious young men named Karl Rove and William Clinton -- and a not so ambitious young man named George W. Bush.

Cataclysms tell the story of Nixonland:

-Angry blacks burning down their neighborhoods in cities across the land as white suburbanites defend home and hearth with shotguns

-The student insurgency over the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention

-The fissuring of the Democratic Party into warring factions manipulated by the “dirty tricks” of Nixon and his Committee to Re-Elect the President

-Richard Nixon pledging a new dawn of national unity, governing more divisively than any president before him, then directing a criminal conspiracy, the Watergate cover-up, from the Oval Office

Then, in November 1972, Nixon, harvesting the bitterness and resentment born of America's turmoil, was reelected in a landslide even bigger than Johnson's 1964 victory, not only setting the stage for his dramatic 1974 resignation but defining the terms of the ideological divide that characterizes America today.

Filled with prodigious research and driven by a powerful narrative, Rick Perlstein's magisterial account of how America divided confirms his place as one of our country's most celebrated historians.

The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
ISBN: 1476782415

Simon & Schuster. 2014

From the bestselling author of Nixonland: a dazzling portrait of America on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the tumultuous political and economic times of the 1970s.

In January of 1973 Richard Nixon announced the end of the Vietnam War and prepared for a triumphant second term—until televised Watergate hearings revealed his White House as little better than a mafia den. The next president declared upon Nixon’s resignation “our long national nightmare is over”—but then congressional investigators exposed the CIA for assassinating foreign leaders. The collapse of the South Vietnamese government rendered moot the sacrifice of some 58,000 American lives. The economy was in tatters. And as Americans began thinking about their nation in a new way—as one more nation among nations, no more providential than any other—the pundits declared that from now on successful politicians would be the ones who honored this chastened new national mood.

Ronald Reagan never got the message. Which was why, when he announced his intention to challenge President Ford for the 1976 Republican nomination, those same pundits dismissed him—until, amazingly, it started to look like he just might win. He was inventing the new conservative political culture we know now, in which a vision of patriotism rooted in a sense of American limits was derailed in America’s Bicentennial year by the rise of the smiling politician from Hollywood. Against a backdrop of melodramas from the Arab oil embargo to Patty Hearst to the near-bankruptcy of America’s greatest city, The Invisible Bridge asks the question: what does it mean to believe in America? To wave a flag—or to reject the glibness of the flag wavers?


''Nixonland'' - named one of the three best books of the year by the editors at and a New York Times notable book for 2008.''Before The Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus'' - won the 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Award for history. It also appeared on the best books lists that year of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune.

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