LAWRENCE — Rick Perlstein, author of “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan,” will speak at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union. His presentation, "The Invisible Bridge: From Nixon to Reagan to Palin and Beyond,” is part of the Hall Center for the Humanities' 2015-2016 Humanities Lecture Series. The event is free and open to the public. A reception and book signing will take place after the lecture.
Perlstein will also participate in an informal conversation session the next day. “A Conversation with Rick Perlstein” will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17, in the Hall Center Conference Hall. Audience members are invited to pose questions to Perlstein and advance topics that may not have been touched upon in the previous night’s session. This event is also free and open to the public.
Perlstein argues in “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan” that, in the post-Vietnam and post-Watergate 1970s, Americans began thinking critically about history and politics. They started to perceive their nation in a new way: as one more nation among nations, no more providential than any other. But along came Ronald Reagan, who never got the message, Perlstein wrote, and gave Americans permission not to think like that anymore.
In this talk, Perlstein explores this fascinating time period and the repercussions that still reverberate today in how America’s politicians make decisions about global warming, the financial crisis and the war in Iraq. He explores the new conservative political culture we know now and what needs to be done to fix democracy in our country. Against a backdrop of melodramas from the Arab oil embargo to Patty Hearst to the near-bankruptcy of America’s greatest city, Perlstein asks the question: What does it mean to believe in America? To wave a flag — or to reject the glibness of the flag-wavers?
Perlstein is an independent scholar and is also the author of “Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America,” which was a New York Times best-seller and was selected as one of the best nonfiction books of the year by more than a dozen publications; and “Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus,” which won the 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Award for history and appeared on the best books of the year lists of The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. He has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Village Voice and Slate, and he is a frequent contributor to The Nation. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for independent scholars.
Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Junot Diaz, Jeffrey Toobin and Sarah Vowell. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule. For information on the series, visit the Hall Center website.