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The Reagan Diaries [Kindle Edition]

Ronald Reagan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)

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Book Description

During his two terms as the fortieth president of the United States, Ronald Reagan kept a daily diary in which he recorded, by hand, his innermost thoughts and observations on the extraordinary, the historic, and the routine day-to-day occurrences of his presidency. Brought together in one volume and edited by historian Douglas Brinkley, The Reagan Diaries provides a striking insight into one of this nation's most important presidencies and sheds new light on the character of a true American leader.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The diaries our 40th president kept while in office—edited and abridged by historian Brinkley (The Great Deluge)—are largely a straightforward political chronicle. Reagan describes meetings with heads of state and antiabortion leaders, reflects on legislative strategy and worries about leaks to the press. He often used his diary to vigorously defend his polices: for example, after a 1984 visit with South African archbishop Desmond Tutu (whom Reagan calls "naïve"), the president explained why his approach to apartheid—"quiet diplomacy"—was preferable to sanctions. Reagan sometimes seems uncomfortable with dissent, as when he is irked by a high school student who presents a petition advocating a nuclear freeze. And he often sees the media as a "lynch mob," trying to drum up scandal where there is none. Reagan's geniality shines through in his more quotidian comments: he muses regularly about how much he appreciates Nancy, and his complaints about hating Monday mornings make him seem quite like everyone else. Brinkley doesn't weigh down the text with extensive annotation; this makes for smooth reading, but those who don't remember the major political events of the 1980s will want to refer to the glossary of names. Reagan's diaries are revealing, and Brinkley has done historians and the broad public a great service by editing them for publication. (May 22)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


'Amusing and enlightening!I quite simply couldn't put them down.' Sunday Times 'What emerges from these pages is the remarkable character of Ronald Reagan himself. He was what he seemed to be, so fundamentally decent and sunny that it is hard to figure how the American political system could have produced such a genial leader.' Sunday Telegraph 'Reagan's handwritten summary of almost every day of his 1981-89 presidency shows more clearly than ever before the way his mind worked!On the whole, it worked pretty well -- especially in his cold-war policy.' The Economist 'Read his diaries!Reagan was no Pepys, or even Alan Clark!but his daily entries provide a fascinating insight into a presidency that saw the end of the Cold War and a resurgent belief in the power of the individual.' The Spectator 'His gift for simple, direct, unerringly right decision-making remained intact until the end of his presidency in 1989. Because of that genius gift, this journal remains a crucial document.' Daily Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
195 of 212 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an incredible book May 24, 2007
I have not finished reading this yet, but I can't put this one down. You get an incredible insight to President Reagan's thoughts and hopes for the country as well as an understanding of how deeply he loved his wife.

I have also come to realize how humble a man he really was. For example he seemed shocked that whenever he went someplace (even if just for a short trip in D.C.) there was a change of clothes waiting for him. He was also amazed that when one of his children was on TV one evening the staff video taped it for him.

The most enjoyable entries to read are the ones where he talks about simple things like setting his clocks ahead in the sping, or riding a horse at Quantico.

There are also more serious entries where he writes about the Russians and his hopes for peace in the middle east.

The amazing thing is because this is a personal diary, it was never intended to be published. You get (I feel) the real thought and feelings of one of our greatest Presidents.

One reviewer gave this book only one star and his review is less a review of the book and more an attack on the former President. I do not think you need to be conservative to enjoy this book. You just need to want to see the daily thoughts of the man.
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88 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The man shines through May 29, 2007
This edited volume of President Reagan's diaries is memorable more for preserving the distinctive voice of this fundamentally decent man than for any momentous new insights into his eight years in highest office. The first three years of entries mainly log his daily activities, but on January 18, 1984, Reagan decides he is doing "wrong" because "those schedules are all in the archives." At this point, the president makes more of an effort to include analysis and opinions. However, the tenor of the entries remains matter-of-fact and schedule-driven.

Here is a scattering of comments this reader mentally asterisked:

-- As early as March 19, 1981, Reagan already worries about Secretary of State Alexander Haig: "Al told me he felt he was being undercut by other agencies etc. I worry he has something of a complex about this."

-- When the air traffic controllers struck, Reagan notes he gave them "48 hrs. in which to return & if they don't they are separated from the service." He reminded them of their oath "'that he or she will not strike against the U.S. govt. or any of its agencies.'"

-- Referring to the memorial services for the American troops killed in the Lebanon suicide bombing, Reagan writes on Friday, November 4, 1983: "One little boy, 8 or 9, politely handed me a manila folder saying it was something he'd written about his father. Later when I read it I found it was a poem entitled 'Loneliness.'"

-- During his April '84 trip to China, Reagan comments on his meeting with Deng Xiaoping: "...he really waded in critical of our mid-east policy, our treatment of the developing nations etc. & our disarmament failure. He touched a nerve -- when it was my turn I corrected him with facts and figures & I meant it.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
What a humble man! I have been a huge Reagan fan. The book is a great insight to a wonderfully, warm, loving and humble man that puts God, his wife, his country and his family before himself. His daily thoughts and take on things is refreshing and a far cry from what we have seen in recent years. President Regan makes me proud to be an American with his words and patriotism. This book is a great insight into the mind of a Great President. The book is an easy read and a great history lesson. I love the way his mind works. He had a very smart but yet simple way of looking at life and situations. He had a great deal of compassion and respect for the sick, the disabled and even for those who wronged him. Recommended read. I have loved every page.
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63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
The Reagan Diaries were written in the White House every evening that Ronald Wilson Reagan occupied the office of President. Reagan writes his innermost thoughts in a clear, concise and closely observed witness to history. Only a few presidents such as John Quincy Adams; James Knox Polk and Rutherford B. Hayes took the time to keep diaries of their tenure in the most powerful office in the free world.

Anyone interested in American history; the US Presidency; the life or Reagan or how modern power politics will benefit for the hours it takes to read these many pages (the book is 700 pages). The diaries have been edited by noted historian Douglas Brinkley of the University of New Orleans. A later two volume edition of the unedited diaries is planned for the future. Brinkly gives concise notes on all the activites Reagan enaged in on a particular day. He has done an excellent job in his editing work. He did so with the cooperation of Nancy and the Reagan family.

In my perusing of these diaries my estimation of Ronald Wilson as a patriotic American seeking to do the best for his nation and freedom has risen several notches on the Richter scale! Reagan will be known for such historical benchmarks as:

1. Reaching detene with the Soviets and standing up to Soviet negotiators. He handled Gorbachev with strength and dignity. His foreign policy with the Soviets will live forever in American memory.

2. In the last few years of his second term Reagan got into deep trouble over the Iran-Contra snafu.

3. Reagan sought to lower taxes and raise the profile of the military. During his term their was the invasion of Granada; the murder of the Marines in Lebanon and continuing conflict in the Middle East.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars great story
wish he was president today
Published 18 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Words from the Last Great President
Loved Reagan. Gave this to my father and he is enjoying it. If only we had a leader like Reagan today. Read more
Published 24 days ago by P. robb
5.0 out of 5 stars Great casual read
a great glimpse into the life of a great President
Published 28 days ago by Steven A Poole
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
Insightful. Glad he wrote everything down. Some days the entries in his diary are one liners others more extensive. Read more
Published 1 month ago by GearMouse
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Not what I expected.
Published 1 month ago by daught83
5.0 out of 5 stars Real leadership.
Reminds us of what it was like when we had a real leader in the White House.
Published 1 month ago by Doug Noto
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Happy
Item delivered very quickly, was as described,very happy.I would buy from this seller again.
Published 1 month ago by Mak Cat
5.0 out of 5 stars We need another Reagan...
Haven't quite finished it but love the book about a very moral man and a tremendous leader.
Published 1 month ago by S. Perlock
3.0 out of 5 stars I did not like the abbreviations I did not like just a person's ...
I did not like the abbreviations I did not like just a person's last name when there were too many with the same names half the time I didn't know what the initials meant it made... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Terry L Snedigar
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great Read
Published 1 month ago by Mathew Viator
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Suspiciously Early Reviews of Newly Released Books
No matter how many times they say they don't, many book stores put books out when they get them, not on a pub date. I bought the Diaries from a Borders about a week before the pub date.
May 25, 2007 by M. Kramer |  See all 7 posts
Brought to you by those who gave us The Hitler Diaries!
Where do these idiotic notions come from? How does one begin to try to address this kind of "logic"?
Jun 26, 2007 by Irwin W. Fisk |  See all 46 posts
Typical Democrats spat
"beat back the excesses of 1960s liberalism. This was remarkable considering the memories of the Great Depression trauma, when rampant speculation and collapse of the unregulated banking industry caused the economy to collapse. Ronald Reagan wrote in his autobiography that he voted for his... Read More
May 15, 2009 by Venizen |  See all 4 posts
What is your favorite Reagan biography?
If you're interested in the socio political milieu from which Reagan emerged, Stephen Hayward's THE AGE OF REAGAN is very good. Volume 1 covers the period 1964-1980, Volume 2 (to be released early next year) will cover his presidency. Lou Cannon's books about Reagan are also good. Edmund... Read More
Nov 9, 2008 by Christopher Barat |  See all 3 posts
Before you become hopelessly mired in the swamp of name-calling and innuendo, PROVE to all of us that this book is a fraud.

Reagan was a great leader and communicator and served his country to the best of his ability. His actions- and now his words- demonstrate a sincerity driven by virtuous... Read More
May 30, 2007 by Dan Hiland |  See all 35 posts
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