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Ronald Reagan: The Power of Conviction and the Success of His Presidency Hardcover – December 17, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

During his year as White House counsel, Wallison was able to witness President Reagan up close-as a man who defied the textbook model of a "great president." Unlike any other president to date, says Wallison, Reagan came to office with a firm and unique philosophy of government. While many accuse Reagan of ignorance and lack of interest, Wallison shows that the president was a man of ideas and conviction. When it came to his core beliefs-small federal government, tax cuts and a formidable defense policy-Reagan was unbending. When even his own staff members rallied against him, begging him to relent, Reagan shook his head and spoke of "staying the course." Wallison also defends Reagan's managerial style, in which he focused on his main agenda and delegated all other policy decisions to his staff. This, too, was due not to "cognitive limitations" but to a determination to focus on achieving several key principles. To his credit, Wallison is not blind to Reagan's faults, noting that the very qualities that allowed for his many successes also permitted the devastation wrought by the Iran-Contra affair. The author's recollection of the scandal is detailed and honest. Despite the personal nature of his book, Wallison's portrayal of Reagan is balanced and clear: he gives us a man who is fundamentally human, who made mistakes and yet achieved great things. 10 b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"As Mr. Reagan's lawyer during the Iran-Contra scandal, Mr. Wallison is uniquely qualified." -- The Wall Street Journal

"This book will stand as a worthy addition to the large number of insider accounts of the Reagan years." -- Choice

"Wallison's interpretation of the Reagan style has a credible ring, whether or not one agrees with Reagan's agenda." -- Kirkus --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (December 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813340462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813340463
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,413,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By hugh kemper on March 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent "insider" perspective on Reagan's management style and the Iran-Contra scandal. Wallison debunks thoroughly the prevailing view of the liberal media that Reagan was intellectually limited, disengaged and manipulated by his advisors. Reagan's remarkable accomplishments are attributed to the clarity of and his unfailing focus on a few "big ideas" (e.g. a smaller and less intrusive government, freer trade, a strong defense, faith in the traditional American values of individualism and sense of personal responsibility) and his ability to inspire those within the administration to actively pursue his policy objectives. As legal counsel to the President, Wallison was the White House staffer most involved with Iran-Contra. He persuasively argues that the scandal was basically a foreign policy blunder made worse by a renegade NSC staff (particularly Oliver North) and a press corps more interested in scandal mongering than issues.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J.L. Populist on April 22, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is based on Peter Wallison's year in the White House when he served as a legal counsel.

This book shares some of Ronald Reagan's wit,humor,and humility.

Mr.Wallison offers an assessment of the media coverage regarding the Reagan administration. The media had a tendency to over-cover the sensational while ignoring subjects of substance,like policy(foreign or domestic).They trolled for scandals.

This book shows what management style was used by the President.

It also debuncts the myth that President Reagan was not intelligent.

Another interesting topic in this book is the behind the scenes view of situations in the cabinet. Leaks to the media and how rampant they were from the White House and especially the Hill.

There was a comparison of the Chiefs of Staff. Mr. Wallison wrote mostly about Donald Regan because he worked with him.

The chapters dedicated to the Iran-Contra scandal were very good! I came away with a better understanding of exactly what happened and who was involved.

This is the first book that I have read about President Reagan. I recommend it as a balanced book from an author who worked in the White House. I wish that he had been there longer!
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I love this book as it contains what it means to be a true conservative and not a false one. As the great Conservative economist F.A. Hayek once stated "    . . . the whole conception of social or distributive justice is empty and meaningless; and there will therefore never exist agreement on what is just in this sense... I am certain, however, that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice."
That is in a Capitalistic Socieity there will be more losers than winners and that is just the way it is. If you can not make ends meet it is not "societys fault" but your own. Don't expect your mommy "the state" to make it right!
From here the author goes own to explain how all the scandals of the Reagan presidentcy where not the leaders fault but those of his underlings for they were to blaime not him. The buck stops there my friend!
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By Sue Koon on May 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was surprised at the negative feelings of his coworkers, and other politicians. However, as noted in this book, he made his mark in history without them. I am keeping this book on my shelf for frequent "reads" to remind me that there have been presidents who made a difference. I highly recommend this to everyone who are fast becoming fed up with our politicians, all the way to the white house.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Peter Wallison has written an excellent and honest book on serving under President Reagan, where he was deep into handling Iran/Contra as Reagan's White House Counsel. Amazingly objective account given he worked for the White House. And a great job conveying what a different kind of man and President Reagan was.
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