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The Education of Ronald Reagan The General Electric Years and the Untold Story of His Conversion to Conservatism by Thomas Evans

The Education of Ronald Reagan The General Electric Years and the Untold Story of His Conversion to Conservatism

Part of the Columbia Studies in Contemporary American History Series


The Education of Ronald Reagan The General Electric Years and the Untold Story of His Conversion to Conservatism by Thomas Evans

In October 1964, Ronald Reagan gave a televised speech in support of Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater. The Speech, as it has come to be known, helped launch Ronald Reagan as a leading force in the American conservative movement. However, less than twenty years earlier, Reagan was a prominent Hollywood liberal, the president of the Screen Actors Guild, and a fervent supporter of FDR and Harry Truman. While many agree that Reagan's anticommunism grew out of his experiences with the Hollywood communists of the late 1940s, the origins of his conservative ideology have remained obscure. Based on a newly discovered collection of private papers as well as interviews and corporate documents, The Education of Ronald Reagan offers new insights into Reagan's ideological development and his political ascendancy. Thomas W. Evans links the eight years (1954-1962) in which Reagan worked for General Electric-acting as host of its television program, GE Theater, and traveling the country as the company's public-relations envoy-to his conversion to conservatism. In particular, Evans reveals the profound influence of GE executive Lemuel Boulware, who would become Reagan's political and ideological mentor. Boulware, known for his tough stance against union officials and his innovative corporate strategies to win over workers, championed the core tenets of modern American conservatism-free-market fundamentalism, anticommunism, lower taxes, and limited government. Building on the ideas and influence of Boulware, Reagan would soon begin his rise as a national political figure and an icon of the American conservative movement.


An elegant history of Reagan's 'studies
with General Electric

. -- John H. Fund The Wall Street Journal A revelation... Definitely worth reading for those who want to know how Ronald Reagan evolved into the 'Great Communicator
of political yore

. -- A.G. Gancarski The Washington Times [The Education of Ronald Reagan] fills a hole in Reagan's biography. -- Daniel Oppenheimer Sacramento News and Review Evans's book is essential reading... a reasoned exploration of the shaping of an extraordinary political career. -- Joseph C. Goulden Washington Lawyer This fascinating study sheds new light on Reagan's ideological evolution. Publishers Weekly A better companion to [The Reagan Diaries]... By focusing on the decade or so when Reagan was a traveling spokesman for General Electric--a period that he began as a Democrat and ended as a Republican--Evans does a persuasive job of explaining where Reagan's political views came from. -- Nicholas Lemann, New Yorker The Education of Ronald Reagan admirably fills... [a] gap... One of the most illuminating books ever written about Reagan. -- Jacob Heilbrunn National Interest [The Education of Ronald Reagan]provides fresh revelations on Reagan's ideological development... a 'must
for any college level collection. The Midwest Book Review Evans is undoubtedly correct to home in on the G

.E. years as the key period in Reagan's self education. -- Steven F. Hayward Claremont Review of Books Evans provides useful insight into Reagan's GE years and calls attention to the influence of Boulware. -- Emilie Raymond Register of the Kentucky Historical Society I recommend strongly that you get the (book). -- Newt Gingrich BizVoice An important work that ought to be read. -- Ronald W. Schatz Labor History

About the Author

Thomas W. Evans, a lawyer and avocational politician, has supervised a successful New Hampshire presidential primary and established a national citizens' campaign organization. A former adjunct professor of education and administration at Columbia University's Teachers College, Evans was chair of the Reagan administration's national symposium on partnerships in education and counsel to the Points of Light Foundation under George H.W. Bush.

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Book Info

Publication date

21st July 2008


Thomas Evans

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Columbia University Press


320 pages


Biography: historical, political & military
History of the Americas

Political leaders & leadership



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