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Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History Hardcover – February 6, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Three such observations stand out: 1) Reagan's formal education and religious upbringing pre-dated the radical liberalism of his time in office, i.e., he wasn't an "intellectual"; 2) his brand of Conservatism was remarkably close to the Liberalism of an earlier time; and 3) Reagan won the battle with the student activists in the 1960s but may also have lost the war, since those radicals went on to become the university professors who were, and are, his most vocal political critics.
The author contends that Reagan's major flaw, as president, was that, as a result of his early encounters with communism in the 1950s, he became obsessed with communism, which he perceived as truly evil, and came to interpret every action of the Soviet Union in that light. This, the author contends, caused him to misjudge and misunderstand much of what was happening in South America and in the Middle East. For example, he failed to realize that those fighting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan weren't "freedom fighters," but were, in fact, the zealots who would go on to become today's Islamic terrorists.
The author further contends that it wasn't until Reagan came to the profound conclusion that the greatest threat to America and to the world at large was nuclear annihilation, for at that time both the United States and the Soviet Union had the capability to destroy the world.Read more ›
Reagan's singular achievement, Diggins argues, was the role he played in bringing a peaceful end to the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Though he came into the White House with a promise to rebuild the American military and confronted what his advisers contended were Soviet-sponsored regimes in nations ranging from Nicaragua to Angola, it's clear that, very early in his Administration, if not before then, Reagan became committed to the idea of drastically reducing, if not eliminating, nuclear weapons.
Much to the consternation of his neo-conservative foreign policy team, Reagan made overtures to the Soviets as early as April 1981, when he wrote a letter to Leonid Brezhnev while recovering from an assassination attempt. The Brezhnev dialog never went anywhere, largely because Brezhnev was apparently too stubborn and too ill to actually pursue serious negotiations.Read more ›
The history of Reagan's time in California is engrossing. Reagan adored FDR and was a staunch New Dealer. Then communists tried to infiltrate Hollywood and used lie after lie to do so. Reagan felt he was defending American became an anti-communist crusader, still as a FDR-loving Democrat, and then registered one day as a Republican and he never turned back. He then advocated free markets, freedom and the danger of government making bad mistakes with too much power. The story of Reagan's life before he became president is very important for understanding Reagan as a person and what he really believed. Reagan's extensive writings, speeches and political career show Reagan to be a thoughtful advocate of individual freedom. Therefore, he was a staunch enemy of communism or any form of totalitarianism. Indeed, the author argues that Reagan was in some ways anti-establishment in his optimistic belief in individual freedom.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
By far the most challenging biography of Reagan, John Patrick Diggins was not a conservative necessarily, but a fair-minded, opinionated intellectual, who dug deeply into Reagan's... Read morePublished on May 3, 2013 by crafty lefthander
There is already a vast amount of literature on the life of Ronald Reagan, and it shows no sign of abating. Read morePublished on October 14, 2007 by Graham Cooke
The dust jacket of this biography claims that John Patrick Diggins is one of America's "most interesting intellectual historians". This description gets two things right - Mr. Read morePublished on August 25, 2007 by Amazon Customer
Dr. Diggins seems to be an erudite, intelligent man who put some serious time into researching his book. Read morePublished on August 8, 2007 by Jonny T
I never thought I'd give a five-star review to a book with which I had disagreed in so many places. But this is just a fantastic book; original, provocative, magnificently... Read morePublished on June 10, 2007 by Odysseus
It is good to see serious scholarship on the Reagan years emerging, the problem I had here was this book reads much more like a college political science class textbook than a... Read morePublished on May 30, 2007 by Jeffrey T. Hammill
Most authors who try to write an insightful book about Ronald Reagan eventually say in frustration, "It's impossible to get to know the man! Read morePublished on May 17, 2007 by M. Strong