Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan” as Want to Read:
The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,165 ratings  ·  319 reviews
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 termuntil televised Watergate hearings revealed his White House as little better than a mafia den.
Hardcover, 880 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Simon Schuster
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Invisible Bridge, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Patrick DiJusto It's interesting that the author spends quite a bit of time in the book talking about exactly this mode of thinking: the idea that if you dare to…moreIt's interesting that the author spends quite a bit of time in the book talking about exactly this mode of thinking: the idea that if you dare to point out any flaw in a person or object, you must ABSOLUTELY HATE that thing, and therefore your opinion can be discarded. It has led to the current conservative movement's reek of immaturity -- have you noticed how none of them can take even the slightest criticism without metaphorically weeping that they're being treated unfairly?

It didn't begin with Reagan; the idea that criticism == hatred was more of a Nixon thing. But it certainly flourished under Reagan, and was practically codified as Republican/conservative gospel under Gingrich. Great question, thanks for asking.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,165 ratings  ·  319 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
E. G.

--The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan

A Note on Sources
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Disclosure: Rick Perlstein contributed an excerpt of this book to the website where I work.

If you've read Nixonland and liked it, The Invisible Bridge is its worthy successor. The thing to know about Rick Perlstein is that he has a schtick (one that I think is fantastic, actually): blending the popular culture at the time with the events in politics. He brilliantly blends the two to create what living through that time was probably actually like (I'm a bit young to judge), and it transports you
Christopher Saunders
Rick Perlstein is nothing if not an ambitious historian. The Invisible Bridge follows Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, his sprawling, fevered and fascinating account of the tumultuous '60s, with The Invisible Bridge, which tries to explain Ronald Reagan's rise within the context of post-Watergate cynicism. Long, dense and crammed with minutia, it's a book that fascinates until it collapses under its own weight.

Perlstein fares best chronicling big picture events.
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Rick Perlsteins Invisible Bridge takes up where his terrific Nixonland ended: Watergate and beyond. Its the beyond that is really the heart of the book, which is an inbetween time that, just like Nixonland, is chock full of (for me) nearly forgotten history. Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Wallace, Patty Hearst, James (Jimmy) Earl Carter, Squeaky Fromme, Whip in Inflation Now,The Exorcist, Jaws, Nashville, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Saturday Night Live, New Right, New Left, the Yom Kipper ...more
Aaron Million
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
Reading the third installment of Rick Perlstein's excellent chronicling of the rise of the right-wing of the Republican Party is particularly interesting given the current occupant of the White House, Donald Trump. Perlstein pays particular attention to Ronald Reagan, who in the mid 70s was finishing up his eight-year stint as Governor of California and laying the groundwork for a run at the Republican nomination for President in 1976, taking on the unelected incumbent, Gerald Ford. A ...more
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
I read this mostly to understand my dads fascination with Reagan as an American hero and the last great Republican president and Im even more confused than before I started.

I read this before the 2020 election and was amazed by many of the parallels were currently faced with. The book starts with Nixon and follows Ford, Carter, and Reagan, and during that time we see: the Civil Rights movement, racial injustice and police brutality, Patty Hearst kidnapped by terrorists, young people were joining
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reviewer Frank Rich: It says much about Perlsteins gifts as a historian that he persuasively portrays this sulky, slender interlude between the fall of Nixon and the rise of Reagan (as his subtitle has it) not just as a true bottom of our history but also as a Rosetta stone for reading America and its politics today. It says much about his talent as a writer that he makes these years of funk lively, engrossing and on occasion mordantly funny..." ...more
Carly Thompson
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, history, 2014
Historical examination of the rise of the conservative right of the Republic party from January 1973 through the the Republican National Convention in 1976, where Reagan almost defeated the sitting President for his party's nomination.

Perlstein does an excellent job of integrating social and cultural events (the return of Vietnam POWs, the mockery of Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Life) within the political environment of the mid 1970s. He also explores Ronald Reagan in depth--from his childhood
Chris Gager
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Found this at the local library on the for sale shelf and it looks like it's replaced the global warming politics book on my non-fiction reading shelf for now. Already the author has shown himself to be very much in agreement with me and my take(s) on the Right-Left divide. This book is part three of his series about how the right wing developed such strength since the Goldwater debacle in '64. A sad story for this country(IMHO). I was never a fan of Reagan, but he was certainly someone you ...more
Brian Eshleman
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a maddening book to grade. In the thickest point of the central plot, the author points out that it is the stuff of a movie, and he is right. An accidental president, thoroughly likable and respected but uninspiring, battles for reelection against a charismatic Hollywood actor in an extremely close fight for the party nomination. This suspense is paced quotidian details that put the reader back into the world of the mid-1970s. This is five-star stuff.

But two other strands are
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Invisible Bridge, third in Perlstein's four-volume history of the rise of conservatism, picks up in early 1973 with the early stages of inflation and Watergate, and focuses heavily on the 1976 primary campaign of Ronald Reagan. His argument is that, in the midst of an unprecedented level of public skepticism toward American institutions, Americans chose nostalgia over real scrutiny. This can be seen not only in the Reagan campaign but in the aw-shucks, I'm-just-a-simple-country-farmer ...more
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
A poor excuse for political analysis and biography. The author only juxtaposed popular culture events and anecdotes with a time line of political events. However, anecdotes do not substitute for analysis. Really, was the Patty Hearst story a metaphor for an important political point of view or movement? The extent that both Carter and Reagan both used a degree of political license to succeed is hardly news. That Ford was not as skilled an orator a Reagan is also not news. What is the point of ...more
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The follow up to Nixonland bring us from the excitement, the motion, the carnival, and the conflict of the Sixties to the quagmire and culture wars of the seventies. A morass that we have yet to crawl out of. This book feels very now, the silly divide and conquer conflict of culture wars, solipsism, spiritual longing crumbling infrastructure, apocalyptic rumblings, news as a source of panic more than information, and the political parties fighting a civil war for their identity. Covering ...more
Bryan Cebulski
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Definitely some compelling political history. Perlstein has been criticized for his depictions of the Republican party, but 1) he lambasts democrats as well whenever they are brought up (which, granted, isn't as often, but this is a history of the conservative movement) and 2) he backs his claims up with facts. The last 75 pages or so are woefully dull, outlining in gratuitous detail the occurrences at the 1976 Republican convention, but the rest of the books 800-some pages are great. Fast, ...more
Brad B
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Mr. Perlstein has chosen a fascinating period in contemporary American politics to write about. And there is some genuinely interesting material here, for example his discussion of Lemuel Boulware and his nitty-gritty account of the 1976 Republican National Convention. Reviews that accuse the book of political bias ignore the fact that Mr. Perlstein directs his sarcasm at both Republicans and Democrats (and, in fairness, Reagan's self-contradictions and convoluted statements are a matter of ...more
Mack Hayden
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: america, history
I think Rick Perlsteins got to be my favorite American history writer. Each of the volumes in this series are so brimming with life that, for lack of a better cliche, you feel like youre there. Its also a balm for our anxious times in how thoroughly it reminds you that this country has seen years just as, if not more, crazy and action packed. I also have to hand it to Perlstein for consistently profiling all his subjects with a no holds barred critical eye without disregarding one iota of their ...more
Ted Hunt
Nov 20, 2014 rated it liked it
This is an interesting book and an enjoyable read for the most part, especially for someone who came of age in the 1970's. It is the third in Rick Perlsteins' history of the modern American conservative movement ("Before the Storm," which focuses on the Barry Goldwater phenomenon, and "Nixonland" are the other two). There was a lot in this book that brought back memories of that era, both politically and culturally, and many behind-the-scenes details that I was learning about for the first ...more
Antonio Nunez
Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Invisible Bridge begins with the Fall of Nixon, for which he had set himself up, hubristically, at the end of Nixonland, the second volume in the series. It ends with Reagan's rise as a people's favorite who almost managed to snatch away the nomination from the Accidental President, Gerald Ford. It also deals with Carter's rise and the displacement of the great men of the Democratic Party (the McGoverns, the Kennedys). Although the book is at times a ponderous read with great detail about ...more
Like with Ronald Reagan himself, there's not quite a "there" there on this book.

Rick Perlstein has trod on conservative sacred ground with this book. Hence, the 1-star reviews; almost all are disgruntled Reaganite wingnuts, and many have gone so far as to peddle totally bogus plagiarism theories.

That said, those theories get their ground for a reason -- no hardcopy endnotes.

And, that's part of why it's not a 5-star book. Sorry, partisan Dems. (That said, I vote Green when I have the chance.)

Tom Stamper
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
The years have given Perlstein a cynicism about politicians that I didn't detect in his earlier Goldwater history. The earlier tale was told in the most straightforward manner where you couldn't really detect Perlstein's attitude toward Goldwater. Here there is no doubt that sees politicians of the 1970s as untrustworthy. The book begins amid Nixon's Watergate troubles and drifts into Ford's attempt at reconciliation, and concludes with challenges by Reagan and Carter. Of the group he is easiest ...more
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
the third in perlstein's series on the rise of the modern conservative movement is the most compelling of the three books and traces the rise of reagan and the fall of nixon. perlstein's narrative style transforms otherwise dry non-fiction into a page turner, albeit occasionally at the cost of analytical rigor (i.e. perlstein is constantly describing the relationship between his interpretation of the zeitgeist and the movement of history).

his most interesting contribution in this book is his
Andy C.
Nov 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
I cannot believe I took the time to read this whole thing. It is a huge undertaking to read and must have been a piece of work to write.

The detailed information about the social, media, cultural and political activities of the 60's, 70's and 80's is interesting, though he has selected to support what he believes. And one useful observation, that the Watergate Babies crop of congressmen and senators can be compared to the tea party crowd today, so there is nothing new.

Titles are not important,
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
I was a teenager during this time period, and being the child of political parents, I watched the Senate Watergate hearings, the House impeachment hearings, and Richard Nixon's resignation speech. It was a crazy, cynical time.

No wonder a con man like Ronald Reagan could be elected president in 1980. America was confused, adrift, and looking for easy, certain answers. And we are still living with these consequences.

As he did in Nixonland, Rick Perlstein finds all the socioeconomic, political,
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
You will love to read The Invisible Bridge if you are a history buff and like to read things as they are. The author portrays opinions from different sectors of the society and media. The author captures the economic trials of the times by citing actual newspaper interviews of American wives and examples of street protests across America against the government to control the spiraling meat prices. Often called as the heyday of American activism in the absence of government interventions, the ...more
Jun 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
This was a free book through Goodreads' First Reads giveaway. I normally enjoy histories, especially if they can get my interest in the first chapter and keep it, and I usually give most books 100 pages before deciding whether to continue. However, with this book, I was so bored after the first 30-40 pages that I couldn't force myself to stay awake to finish the full 800+ pages. Perhaps someone more interested in late 20th century political history would find more enjoyment from this book, but ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
Not a good book. There are many, many, many parts in this book where Perlstein lifts direct quotes from other, more accurate, books on Reagan, without citing them.

There is no bibliography at the end of the book and the website "citing" does not match up to the inserts in the book.

I seriously do not recommend this for anyone.
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is another book that is marketed as being about Reagan that really isn't, the 40th president plays a fairly small part in the story being told. In fact it ends with the nomination of Ford at the 1976 republican convention. It is really a book about America during the 1970s and especially the tumultuous politics of the of era.
Andrew Tollemache
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Perlstein trilogy is complete. "Gathering Storm" was better, but I really liked "Invisible Bridge".
Matt Smith
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's fair to say that Rick Perlstein is not a Ronald Reagan fan. Then again, neither am I. That doesn't make that a ding against this book, but for people who are looking at this book and saying "oh! How did my boy Reagan do it", this might not be the book. In a lot of ways this is a scathing indictment of both Reagan the man and Reagan the celebrity. So while I loved this book and though it was extremely, extremely good I can't say that it didn't make me absolutely furious at multiple points.

Joseph Stieb
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have now finished the absolutely massive Perlstein trilogy on the rise of modern conservatism from 1960-1976. This is among the most awe inspiring and entertaining history series I have ever read, and I recommend that fans of US history (especially political junkies) check out at least one of these books (Nixonland is the best, I'd say). These books also double as brilliant biographies of Goldwater, Nixon, and Reagan, getting inside their heads and helping you understand how they operated and ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Path to Power
  • The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency
  • If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future
  • Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History
  • What It Takes: The Way to the White House
  • The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War—A Tragedy in Three Acts
  • The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism
  • President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime
  • The Passage of Power
  • Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism
  • The Dynasty
  • Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65
  • The Jakarta Method: Washington's Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World
  • Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House
  • The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
  • Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63
  • It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump
  • Arguing with Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future
See similar books…
Eric S. "Rick" Perlstein (born 1969) is an American historian and journalist. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in History in 1992. He is a former writer for The Village Voice and The New Republic and the author of numerous articles in other publications. Until March, 2009 he was a Senior Fellow at the Campaign for America's Future where he wrote for their blog about the ...more

News & Interviews

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights...
47 likes · 16 comments
“What does sincerity mean if it is chosen as deliberate strategy?” 8 likes
“Increasingly we confused the pursuit of happiness with the pursuit of pleasure.” 4 likes
More quotes…