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)
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'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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