TABLE OF CONTENTS

BELIEVE IT OR NOT

American Myths

RONALD REAGAN HAD returned to Bel Air, yet the events of late ’89 were enough to induce the sci-fi sensation of living inside his brain. What made that Evil Empire fall apart? Was it wishful thinking? Had we spent them into oblivion?

Lunging for the zeitgeist (and countering the negative publicity of Michael Moore’s smash documentary Roger & Me), television ushered in the ’90s with a car commercial that used the rhetoric of mid-’80s Reaganmania (and a bit of subliminal auto lingo) to celebrate the collapse of Communism: “It had a bumpy start, this decade,” the narrator intoned, the faulty ignition illustrated by menacing shots of Iranian crowds. “Our image was tarnished and so was our dream.” Now, the chrome shines. “American ideas are the driving force throughout the world.” Don’t ask why. Behold: the Berlin Wall hath tumbled down.

Once upon a time, as recently as last autumn, the wall was

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