Rendezvous with Destiny - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Rendezvous with Destiny

Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America

Written by Craig Shirley, with a Foreword by George F. Will

From: $8.80

The remarkable behind-the-scenes account of the election that changed everything: the 1980 presidential campaign, a race that was judged “too close to call” as late as Election Day but became a Reagan landslide, altering the course of history.

“An exhaustive study that . . . will not anytime soon—if ever—be surpassed.” —American Spectator

“A first-rate work of insider history . . . A monumental accomplishment.” —National Review

The definitive history of the 1980 campaign. —Weekly Standard


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“An exhaustive study that . . . will not anytime soon—if ever—be surpassed.” —American Spectator

As late as Election Day, headlines across the country blared that the race was “TOO CLOSE TO CALL.”

Even on the verge of his historic triumph in the 1980 presidential election, political observers continued to underestimate Ronald Wilson Reagan.

In Rendezvous with Destiny, the long-awaited follow-up to his widely praised account of Reagan’s insurgent 1976 presidential campaign, Craig Shirley tells the incredible behind-the-scenes story of Reagan’s improbable run to the White House in 1980—of how the “too close to call“ election became a landslide victory over incumbent Jimmy Carter and independent candidate John Anderson.

And this, Shirley shows, was no ordinary election. It dramatically altered the course of American—and world—history. Reagan’s victory gave rise to a new generation of conservatism, ended liberalism’s half-century reign of dominance, reversed the second-worst economic crisis in American history, and led to the demise of the mighty Soviet Union.

To write Rendezvous with Destiny, Shirley gained unprecedented access to 1980 campaign files and interviewed more than 150 insiders—from Reagan’s closest advisers and family members to Jimmy Carter himself. The result is the first comprehensive history of the hard-fought 1980 campaign, a gripping account that follows Reagan’s unlikely path from his bitter defeat on the floor of the 1976 Republican convention, through his underreported “wilderness years,” through grueling primary fights in which he knocked out several Republican heavyweights, through an often-nasty general election campaign complicated by the presence of a third-party candidate (not to mention the looming shadow of Ted Kennedy), to Reagan’s astounding victory on Election Night in 1980. Shirley’s years of intensive research have enabled him to relate countless untold stories—including, at long last, the solution to one of the most enduring mysteries in politics: just how Reagan’s campaign got hold of Carter’s debate briefing books.

Rendezvous with Destiny reveals how Reagan successfully battled the headwinds of the national media, the Republican Party establishment, and even his own campaign team to become one of America’s greatest chief executives.


Craig Shirley is the author of the New York Times bestseller December 1941 and the critically acclaimed Reagan’s Revolution, the first book detailing Reagan’s pivotal 1976 challenge to President Gerald Ford in the Republican primaries. Shirley is also president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, an influential government relations and marketing firm. He has written for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Weekly Standard, among other publications, and in 2005 he was recognized as the outstanding alumnus of Springfield College. Shirley and his wife, Zorine, divide their time between their homes in Alexandria, Virginia, and “Trickle Down Point” on the Rappahannock River in Lancaster, Virginia.

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“A first-rate work of insider history. His book reads like Bob Woodward at his very best. . . . Shirley has accomplished a great feat of scholarship and research, and it could not have come at a better time . . . A monumental accomplishment.” —National Review

“Shirley has proven himself a master of presidential campaign histories—a true heir to Theodore White. . . . An exhaustive study that . . . will not anytime soon—if ever—be surpassed.” —American Spectator

“An unbelievable book . . . I was part of the Reagan Revolution and I didn’t know 80 percent of this stuff! . . . It’s worth reading, and reading right now.” —Mark Levin, radio host, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Anyone who would understand the Reagan victory of 1980 and the movement that eliminated the Soviet Union and revitalized America must read—indeed must study—Craig Shirley’s brilliant, comprehensive work.” —Newt Gingrich

“A superb insider’s account . . . Full of anecdotes that have never been published before.” —Houston Chronicle

“Shirley has done extensive interviewing and research for Rendezvous with Destiny, and it’s a terrific read—for political junkies of all ideological stripes.” —Michael Barone, Washington Examiner

“Conservatives will love this book, and political junkies of all stripes will find it fascinating. Readers looking for high drama will eagerly absorb its more than 600 pages. . . . It is the behind-the-scenes drama that lends real suspense to the narrative.” —Washington Times

“This exhilarating history . . . arrives, serendipitously, at a moment when conservatives are much in need of an inspiriting examination of their finest hour.” —George F. Will, from the Foreword

“A scandal that once looked like it could take down a president, but soon fizzled for lack of hard evidence, gets a closer look in a new book, Rendezvous with Destiny. . . . Shirley’s new book sheds new light on the scandal. . . . The web of evidence Shirley weaves all leads to one man.” —

“A much broader look at the campaign that elected Reagan . . . Shirley has gathered a wealth of evidence.” —Politico

“Provides the first inside look at the historic 1980 election . . . Shirley shows how close Reagan’s campaign came to collapsing in the Republican primaries— how the candidate turned things around.” —National Review Online

“The genius of Shirley’s work is to take stories we already know about, and fill in the details that take you, the reader, right into the room with the principals.” —CQ Politics

“Shirley puts to rest one of the great political mysteries: who stole Carter’s debate briefing books? . . . Shirley also reveals that the Kennedy family had a long memory on Election Day. . . . When it came time for the election, virtually all of them voted for Ronald Reagan.” —NewsMax

“Wonderfully researched and a treasure trove of information . . . It is incredibly moving too. . . . There are numerous new books about Ronald Reagan, and while many don’t offer a lot of new information, this one does.” —Acton Institute

“Prodigiously researched and well noted . . . Engaging and revealing . . . When future historians re-examine the 1980 campaign, one of their first stops is likely to be Rendezvous with Destiny.” —Lou Cannon, Daily Caller

“What a hell of a good book!” —Larry Kudlow, CNBC

“We don’t have to get very far in Craig Shirley’s new book about Reagan to know that, yes, there is still a lot we didn’t know about Reagan and how he came to the White House. . . . A fascinating book!” —Bob Schieffer, CBS

“Has a you-are-there quality. [Shirley’s] intention is to provide the reader with a definitive history of the 1980 campaign, and he succeeds. . . . A trove of colorful, dramatic tales. . . . Shirley gives us a lively ride on the electoral roller coaster.” —Weekly Standard

“As conservatives continue to try to reinvent themselves in the image of RR, it is helpful to have at our disposal this meticulously researched tome detailing how ‘The Great Communicator’ overcame the Republican establishment to oust an incumbent president——and ultimately, to change the world.” —Politics Daily

“A compellingly written, thoroughly documented treatise that is essential reading for anybody who seeks to understand what happened and why on Reagan’s third try for the White House.” —Washington Examiner

“Well-written, filled with information, and a pleasure to read.” —Doug Bandow

“Best. Reagan. Book. Evah!” —Robert Stacy McCain

“Rendezvous with Destiny offers a series of important practical lessons on how to run a presidential campaign, including coherent ideology and strategic nimbleness when circumstances change. Whether the reader is a Reagan fan or not, that takeaway alone makes Craig Shirley’s book a top political read.” —David Mark, Politico

“Masterful . . . Shirley’s books will be the definitive works on both Reagan elections.” —Human Events

“Enthralling . . . This book is full of true words, deep insights, long memories, and occluded details. . . . Shirley summons [the 1980 campaign] back to throbbing, vivid and immediate life.” —David Frum

“Offers more than a few pointers on what conservatives and Republicans should do in the future. And on top of that, it’s an illuminating look back at the watershed 1980 election.” —

“Shirley tells the exhilarating story of how Reagan triumphed and made us believe it was morning in America again.” —Eagle Forum

“The book covers every aspect of the 1980 campaign: from Reagan’s comeback after losing the Iowa caucuses to the behind-the-scenes staff battles and the mystery of who stole President Jimmy Carter’s debate briefing books.” —The Hill

“Well-researched and well-written, and it gives insight into Reagan’s journey to the Oval Office.” —Roll Call

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