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When the Clock Broke

When the Clock Broke


"Terrific . . . Vibrant . . . When the Clock Broke is one of those rarest of books: unflaggingly entertaining while never losing sight of its moral core." —Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times

"When the Clock Broke is leagues more insightful on the subject of Trump’s ascent than most writing that purports to address the issue directly." —Becca Rothfeld, The Washington Post

"Lively and kaleidoscopic." —Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker

"John Ganz is the most important young political writer of his generation—just the one our dark moment needs." —Rick Perlstein

A revelatory look back at the convulsions at the end of the Reagan era—and their dark legacy today.

With the Soviet Union extinct, Saddam Hussein defeated, and U.S. power at its zenith, the early 1990s promised a “kinder, gentler America.” Instead, it was a period of rising anger and domestic turmoil, anticipating the polarization and resurgent extremism we know today.

In When the Clock Broke, the acclaimed political writer John Ganz tells the story of America’s late-century discontents. Ranging from upheavals in Crown Heights and Los Angeles to the advent of David Duke and the heartland survivalists, the broadcasts of Rush Limbaugh, and the bitter disputes between neoconservatives and the “paleo-con” right, Ganz immerses us in a time when what Philip Roth called the “indigenous American berserk” took new and ever-wilder forms. In the 1992 campaign, Pat Buchanan's and Ross Perot’s insurgent populist bids upended the political establishment, all while Americans struggled through recession, alarm about racial and social change, the specter of a new power in Asia, and the end of Cold War–era political norms.


Conspiracy theories surged, and intellectuals and activists strove to understand the “Middle American Radicals” whose alienation fueled new causes. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton appeared to forge a new, vital center, though it would not hold for long.

In a rollicking, eye-opening book, Ganz narrates the fall of the Reagan order and the rise of a new and more turbulent America.

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