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The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism Paperback – September 18, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this hagiographic account, political scientist Kengor (God and Ronald Reagan) makes the familiar case (made most recently by John Lewis Gaddis in The Cold War) that Reagan played a decisive role in ending the Cold War. Reagan was troubled by communism well before he arrived at the White House. As a young man in Hollywood, he railed against the red threat, and as early as 1967, he called for the destruction of the Berlin Wall. As president, Reagan engaged in "economic warfare," invaded Grenada and proved that the Soviets couldn't win an arms race against the U.S. Though "those enslaved by the Soviet Communist state" didn't find freedom until after the Reagan administration, Dutch gets the credit. And what of other major figures who contributed to the Cold War's end? Gorbachev, of course, figures prominently, and John Paul II makes significant appearances—Kengor credits the pope with helping turn Reagan's attention to Poland. Ted Kennedy, on the other hand, emerges as a sneak and a dupe, willing to undermine U.S. foreign policy and make nice with the Russians. The book's structure is somewhat stilted—each chapter is broken up into short chunks, so it feels as though one is reading not a sweeping narrative, but an annotated time line of Reagan's presidency. While the book is workmanlike, the chronology is useful and the footnotes reveal an impressive amount of research. (Oct. 17)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Praise for God and Ronald Reagan:“God and Ronald Reagan captures the real Ronald Reagan.” (Michael ReaganMichael Reagan)

Praise for God and Ronald Reagan:“A profound character study, and engrossing work of history…” (Peter Robinson, author of How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life)

Praise for God and Ronald Reagan:“Fascinating… This is a must-read piece of political history.” (Donald M. Goldstein, coauthor of At Dawn We Slept)

Praise for God and George W. Bush:“Excellent” (National Review)

Praise for God and George W. Bush:“A wealth of material.” (National Catholic Reporter)

“Combining great story-telling with his commitment to scholarly detail, Paul Kengor has written an important and fascinating book.” (Peter Schweizer, author of Do As I Say Not As I Do and Reagan's War)

“While many have tried, few have succeeded in telling such a complete history of my dad’s greatest triumph.” (Michael Reagan)

“Paul Kengor’s latest book illuminates a side of the man evident only to those closest to him.” (Bill Clark, National Security Advisor 1982-1983)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (September 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061189243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061189241
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Essex on October 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
For substance "The Crusader" falls within the work of David Brinkley, Robert Caro and David McCullough. History which is fun to read but isn't fluff.

Not the very light writing of a Sean Hannity, Al Franken, Michael Savage or Bill O'Reilly. Nor an Ann Coulter foot-noted polemic intended to amuse or infuriate.

On the other hand, "The Crusader" is not as detailed as Yale university's Annals of Communism series (Think Sean McMeekin, Donald Rayfield and William J. Chase--wonderful history but not books one picks up and reads straight through).

Of the 432 pages in "The Crusader" 79 are footnotes. 12 pages mention Ted Kennedy. 4 pages out of those 12 pages are in the appendix--the KGB letter. Kengor received the Chebrikov document via Marko Suprun, Walter Zaryckyi and Herb Romerstein (author of the Venona papers). A brief excerpt from the letter was first published in the London Sunday Times (February 2, 1992 "Teddy, the KGB and the Top Secret File").
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51 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Richard D. Cappetto VINE VOICE on November 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism

by Paul Kengor is a wonderful History of Ronald Reagan and his goal to defeat communism. kengor was challenged to prove that Reagan brought down the USSR and he proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt.The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism is very well resourced and is comprehensive, you will learn a lot and yet its not dry history, its exciting. Just for the Kennedy and Carter mentions alone, its worth it the read. There should be a congressional investigation into both Carter and Kennedy actions. But I digress, you will find out that Ronald Reagan did not end communism alone, but he was a big factor and major player in bringing down the evil empire, and that evil system.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Todd Carlsen on April 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great history Ronald Reagan's lifelong crusade against Communism. I recommend it as an enjoyable read and a fascinating history of Reagan's role in the Cold War. Despite an obvious enthusiasm for Reagan, Kengor's research is extremely well-researched and authoritative. "The Crusader" is a "must read" book for anyone interested in the period.

However, the story presented here is one-dimensional and, therefore, different than the fuller story Reagan tells himself in Reagan's autobiography An American Life. According to Reagan himself, he and Gorbachev became good friends and peacefully ended the Cold War. That personal diplomacy had much to do with the unraveling of the Soviet Empire three years after Reagan left office. Read the last chapter of his autobiography. This view is affirmed by Reagan's top diplomatic adviser to USSR Jack Matlock in Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended. For the rest of the story, read the two best books on the Cold War: The Cold War: A New History and The Rise and Fall of Communism. I recommend reading those books, along with the Crusader, to understand the complete story.

In the early 1940s, Reagan the visible actor spoke out against the threats of Nazism. After America won World War II, Reagan warned that there was another totalitarian threat called Communism.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie M. Parsley on December 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
We have heard of how SDI was the breaking point for the Soviets but Paul Kengor, in his book The Crusader, reveals the many and varied strategies used by President Reagan and his team for bringing down the Soviet Union, many of which have only recently been declassified. For anyone who doubts that Reagan had much to do with the demise of the Soviet Union, this book will convince you that Reagan's staunch adherence to his belief that human freedom will win against totalitarian ideology was the catalyst in winning the cold war. He believed that as long as the oppressed are given hope, and the right pressures are applied on repressive regimes at the right time, these regimes will crumble.

The Crusader is a fascinating read as it shows how Reagan, the man, developed the confidence, the skills, and the philosophy that helped him deal with the Soviets. It shows how he was able to stand up to the intense pressure, even from those in his own administration at times, to follow the right course which led eventually to the collapse of Communism. You come away with the belief that without Reagan, the Soviet Union would still be controlling Eastern Europe and parts of Asia today.

Extremely well researched with new evidence from both U.S. and Soviet declassified files, the Crusader tells a story of courage, principled leadership, and faith in the power of freedom. It shows Reagan as a great leader who revived the American spirit and made us believe in ourselves again. It shows how Reagan who was often bitterly opposed by the opposition party, the Europeans, and the Kremlin was able to persevere and accomplish the thing that he had set out to do from the first days of his administration. This book offers many lessons that we need to learn in order to deal intelligently with the difficulties that the U.S. faces today. I highly recommend this book.
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