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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reagan Lite
Reagan Lite
The Reagan I Knew is yet another glimpse into the amazing life of Ronald Reagan. The essence of Ronald Reagan is simplistic complexity. He was something different to everyone. He was considered a dunce by pseudo-intellectuals because of his innate ability to crystallize complex issues into simple problems and solutions. This drove the sophistic...
Published on December 25, 2008 by Robert C. Olson

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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars painfully disappointing for RR/WFB devotee
I fully expected to enjoy and learn from this book. As a reader of National Review for a quarter century and a latter-day Reaganaut, I had high hopes. But it turns out a more apt title would be "The William F. Buckley Who Knew the Reagans and Gave One Clever Advice While Flirting With the Other." I don't know whether WFB simply descended into narcissism in his last...
Published on December 18, 2008 by Nicholas Dujmovic


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reagan Lite, December 25, 2008
By 
Robert C. Olson (Vacaville, California USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Reagan I Knew (Hardcover)
Reagan Lite
The Reagan I Knew is yet another glimpse into the amazing life of Ronald Reagan. The essence of Ronald Reagan is simplistic complexity. He was something different to everyone. He was considered a dunce by pseudo-intellectuals because of his innate ability to crystallize complex issues into simple problems and solutions. This drove the sophistic liberals crazy as they long to wallow in self-induced complex problems that in the end have no real solutions except to create additional problems. Reagan on the other hand saw with laser clarity the heart of an issue and quickly formulate an overall simple solutions that he left for his minions to implement. Mr. Buckley in his glib, erudite way similarly cuts through the mystic surrounding Ronald Reagan to the very essence of the man himself. His short vignettes and inclusion of personal letters portrays a Reagan that his friends knew and admired. I personally enjoyed the correspondence between Mr. Buckley and Mrs. Reagan as it presented a Nancy Reagan that few people knew.
This is a "lite" look at the relationship of two great American conservatives. It is a recommended read if for no other reason than the historical correspondences it contains. William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan were fast friends and this is illustrated throughout the book. Sometimes less is more and in this case that is true.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt Memoir, November 12, 2008
This review is from: The Reagan I Knew (Hardcover)
The story begins with Bill Buckley's first meeting with Ronald Reagan back in the early 1960s and how Reagan's approach to problem solving that night was a precursor to his style as President. The book then moves chronologically as Ron's accomplishments intersect with his relationship with Bill. They discuss governorships, Nixon, the 1976 election, the presidency, and its aftermath among other things. The story's construction is a mix of letters between Bill and Both Reagans and his commentary in between. Like Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography, it's a nontraditional memoir but an effective one just the same.

A common joke throughout the letters is how Bill and Nancy plan a rendezvous in Casablanca. Another continued story is Bill's telling President-elect Reagan that he wants no official job offer within his government and Reagan immediately offering him ambassadorship to the Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Bill accepts playfully and for years they reference Bill's ambassadorship in their letters.

My favorite part of the book is the Buckley/Reagan debate on the Panama Canal Treaty in the late 1970s. I had heard about the televised debate, but I didn't know the issues and the disagreement until I had read Buckley's account here. I suppose we're long past the time when friends could go on television and argue debate style over politics with good humor and intelligence. It was nice to read that it wasn't always that way.

Like Reagan, In His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan that Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America, THE REAGAN I KNEW demonstrates Reagan's sharp mind and clear thinking on issues and decisions. And you also get to enjoy the friendship between the 20th Century's most famous conservative thinker and most famous conservative leader. Thanks Bill for one last gem.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars painfully disappointing for RR/WFB devotee, December 18, 2008
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This review is from: The Reagan I Knew (Hardcover)
I fully expected to enjoy and learn from this book. As a reader of National Review for a quarter century and a latter-day Reaganaut, I had high hopes. But it turns out a more apt title would be "The William F. Buckley Who Knew the Reagans and Gave One Clever Advice While Flirting With the Other." I don't know whether WFB simply descended into narcissism in his last years or he simply had not the opportunity to fix this mess, but what he left us was a maddening book, full of little else than . . . WFB.

The book strikes me as awfully lazy, a pastiche of vignettes, letters, and transcripts. There is here no good argument, no sustained apologia nor polemic on Reagan's virtues, when we all know that WFB thought highly of him.

It's tiresome to read one WFB letter after another, especially when there are references to the Reagan letters WFB is receiving but not revealing to us. It seems Buckley just for this purpose saved copies of the letters he sent out, while deeming most of the Reagan letters he actually received not to be worthy of publication in a book . . that's supposed to be about Reagan. There are a few Reagan letters, but they are too few, and these tend to be edited down.

For the Reagan WFB knew, a reader would more profitably acquire and read 'Ronald Reagan: A Life in Letters,' which includes complete versions of many of RR's letters to WFB that are curtailed for this book.

And then there's an absolutely bizarre chapter describing a purported conversation between Clare Booth Luce and Defense Secretary Weinberger about Reagan and nuclear weapons that takes place in Hawaii. Is this a concocted drama? Was WFB there? It's unclear what to make of it.

I cannot recommend this book for anyone wanting to know Reagan better. Read any of the "in his own hand" materials that have been published in the past few years, and give this a pass.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, December 6, 2008
By 
drderek "drderek" (Las Vegas, NV United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Reagan I Knew (Hardcover)
I have always been very much a fan of Buckley. There is no question of his impact in restoring the energy to the conservative mindset beginning in the 1950's. Therefore, I was looking forward to this book for greater insights into the man who became the icon of conservatism for the general public, Ronald Reagan. However, I completed the book perplexed at the scarcity of the glimpses I hoped for.

1) This appears more a book about WFB and his interactions with the Reagan family and others than about RR. There are too numerous occasions when WFB is presenting his own published writings about RR's policies than about the man himself. For example, in the issue they disagreed upon, the Panama Canal, WFB's arguments are clearly given the front row, so to speak, as is his "cuteness" in speech during their recorded debate. In addition, there is much peripheral info about others who interacted with or against RR, but no "guts" about this man Ronald Reagan that WFB had a friendship with.

2) Secondly, perhaps because I have slid into a deeper conservatism than I thought, but I was not pleased about WFB's inclusion of his written flirtations with Nancy Reagan. Yes, there may have been a closeness with the Buckleys and Reagans that would make this all simply harmless and cute. But I strongly question the appropriateness of supplying this to the general public, particularly within a book entitled, The Reagan I Knew.

3) Curious. Although this work speaks several times about RR's children, Ron Jr. and Patti, I can recall no reference to Michael Reagan, the adopted son who has been a conservative talk show host for some time. Whether true or not, the appearance seems most certainly a deliberate slight on WFB's part.

Yes, I was disappointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Notebook style, June 3, 2009
This review is from: The Reagan I Knew (Hardcover)
I disagree that it is a bad book. It does not promise more than it delivers. It is a collection of notes and letters that was likely put together after Mr Buckley's death. I appreciated a chance to be introduced to President Reagan's informal writing that holds its own vis-a-vis Buckley the intellectual. Not all of the letters are really interesting, but you can sample the style and skip pages or even chapters. Little nuggets and anecdotes will get your attention. Unlike many Reagan tributes, the book is compact and easy to read. It is just not in the heavyweight division.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Epistolary fusillade & the gift of friendship, December 30, 2009
By 
Kendal B. Hunter (Provo, UT United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Reagan I Knew (Paperback)
I was expecting a different book. Instead of a solid memoir, this book is a series of snapshot reminisces mixed in with the volley of correspondence between WFB and the Gipper.

And it was the epistolary aspect that engaged me the most. As a historian (BA, BYU '95), I have an eye and a nose for the primary sources. These letters are gems, some of which should have been included in Reagan: A Life In Letters. Gladly, the gems have now been restored to the crown.

Here are some of the surprises:

* The running joke over WFB and the Gipper's disagreement about the Panama (or is it Erie?) Canal.

* Buckley's mock appointment as Ambassador to Afghanistan--this was an ad nausium joke in WFB's letters.

* The intimate--even flirtatious--letters WFB wrote to Nancy.

Indeed, these letters to Nancy were rather shocking, considering the Reagans' proverbially tight relationship, and Nancy's well-know antenna for detecting frauds and shysters. WFB was playful--in ways that I might be with a sister-in-law, but never with another man's wife. But, apparently, the Reagans were fine with the flirtations.

One key letter was included, the outlining of the abortive attempt for WFB and Rush Limbaugh (The Way Things Ought to Be) to hold a celebration for the Gipper in 1994 (p. 234ff). Mr. Limbaugh has referenced it several times, and both have cited Nancy's poignant response "Ronnie is simply not up to it" (236n). This was the beginning of the end, with the announcement of the Alzheimer's eight months later.

So this book is a useful part of Reganalia, tracking him from pre-Gubernatorial days to his passing. But in a larger sense, it is about camaraderie. Two men--the rarified academic and the citizen-politician--coming together, and sometimes disagreeing, but still keeping their friendship in tact. It highlights the relationship, despite disagreements, is above all.

And an enviable relationship it was, rivaling Lewis and Tolkien's great friendship (Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship).

That many the lesson for all of us, regardless of our political stripes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, behind-the-scenes chronicle, November 17, 2009
By 
G. McKenzie (Scottsdale, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Reagan I Knew (Hardcover)
As a great admirer of Ronald Reagan, I found this book to be a very informative and enjoyable read and I regret that Mr. Buckley was not able to speak publicly about the book before his death. It is an intimate, behind-the-scenes chronicle of the relationship between WFB and Ronald and Nancy Reagan. The book covers over thirty years of friendship between two political giants through original text and re-printed correspondence. It offers insight into some of Reagan's most important positions on government, the economy and foreign policy, particularly concerning the Soviet Union. The book also offers a peek into the personal lives of the Reagan and Buckley families. I recommed it to anyone with an interest in the Reagan legacy.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're a Reagan and a Buckley fan, you will love this book, October 16, 2008
This review is from: The Reagan I Knew (Hardcover)
Excellent book--makes me like and respect Ronald Reagan even more. Reagan was wittier and funnier than I thought. I only wish I had paid more attention to him while he was President of the United States; however, I was in my 20's and didn't care beans about politics back then.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moderate, October 29, 2009
By 
NA Miles "VDH" (West Rising Sun, IN) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Reagan I Knew (Paperback)
This book, published after WFB's death, is a decent and quick read. It DOES give the reader some insight into Reagan, as expected from personal correspondence, but also lacks, as others have noted. While I would be as harsh as the gentleman who noted, "The book strikes me as awfully lazy, a pastiche of vignettes, letters, and transcripts," there is some validity in the latter part of that qualm. Still, for two afternoons in the library, it was a worthwhile read. I'd recommend it to folks who seek to learn more about one of our great president; one I was raised under.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars FINAL BOOK?, June 16, 2009
By 
This review is from: The Reagan I Knew (Hardcover)
We are told this is the book WFB was working with at time of his death, will there be others, possibly so. I also agree this book should not be labeled a 'bad' book to the average reader, for the 'good' or 'bad' tag would mainly depend on a reader's expectations for the book.

I had read something about each of these men and came to the book to see what WFB had to say about Ronald Reagan. In some ways that isn't very much but in other ways a great deal. Their 'friendship' seems to me more of a professional meeting of the minds revolving around their needs at various times. While there are a few personal items tucked into these letters they can be seen to be pretty middle of the road stuff. Two men who had a 25 year acquaintance brought together mainly by their professional crossings, having respect amd fondness for each other certainly, but mostly sent notes, letters, and oft times phone calls. From WFB's perspective many times the phone calls missed getting a connection. Would this book have turned out differently had WFB lived to complete it, quite possibly.

One item here of real interest to me was not only the number of notes and letters between WFB and Nancy Reagan but also the image left in my mind of the intelligence and sense of humor Mrs. Reagan has. Without counting the letters it does seem that Mrs. Reagan has quite a few messages here between WFB and herself. They seem to have had a very good friendship. Her letters as well as Reagan's show the affection each had for the other.

It's a slim volume which will not take the average reader long to go through, but for me it remains an interesting book that was well worth my time. Other than a few items impinging on their individual personal lives I really did not learn much, but it was very enjoyable spending time with these three people. Other than occasional mention, the wife of WFB is not represented in these letters, notes, and calls.

Semper Fi.
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The Reagan I Knew
The Reagan I Knew by William F. Buckley Jr. (Paperback - October 13, 2009)
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