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on December 14, 2005
Of all the books I've read about Ronald Reagan's time in office, this is perhaps the best and most enlightening. Conservatives will love it. Since the book tells the unvarnished truth about the Reagan Administration, however, liberals will hate it. For those old enough to remember the 1980's, however, reading this book will be like re-living those heady years; only this time he or she will not only be able to see what is happening but will also be privy to the behind the scenes actions leading up to those events.

The book's author, Edwin Meese, is particularly well qualified to tell this tale; for he was, as the book's title suggests, with Reagan from his earliest years in politics all the way through his presidential years. During that time, he helped plan many, if not most, of the major events which shaped the Reagan Presidency. He was also in a position to observe, assess, and evaluate those in the Reagan Administration, in the Washington establishment, in the elite media, in Congress, and in the Senate who worked most diligently to thwart and undercut the President's policies.

Written in simple terms, Ed Meese walks the reader through the 1980's. Along the way he touches upon a wide variety of topics including the following: 1) the difficulties encountered (particularly by a Washington outsider) in attempting to deal with an entrenched bureaucracy, vested interest groups, the Washington press, and a hostile Congress; 2) the difficulty, if not the near impossibility, of slowing the growth of government (e.g. When is a cut not a cut and why?); 3) State Department resistance to Reagan's policies and its duplicity in trying to side track them; 4) Government by leaks and Reagan bashing; 5) the different ways in which Washington outsiders and insiders dealt with the Washington establishment during the Reagan years (i.e., To leak or not to leak?); 6) Congress's betrayal of the President by not cutting spending as promised; 7) David Stockman's "not invented here" mentality, deception, and leaks; 8) attempts to isolate the President from other relevant points of view so as to "educate" him to the liberal view; 9) Reagan's view of the "Evil Empire" and his plan for bringing it down; 10) rebuilding America's defenses; 11) the events leading up to Iran-Contra during both the Carter & Reagan Administrations; 12) Congressional hypocrisy regarding President Carter's direct negotiations with the Iranian hostage takers as compared to President Reagan's third party approach; and 13) efforts to reign in an activist Federal judiciary the rulings of which were helping to promote such things as pornography, drug abuse, and leniency toward criminals (including the "Borking" of Robert Bork).

Like Reagan's autobiography, "An American Life", this book is a treasure trove of authoritative information. And like that book, it will be of great value to future generations of scholars as they attempt to establish Ronald Reagan's proper place in the pantheon of American heroes. So, if you have an interest in politics (or if any of the above topics strike your fancy), you will certainly find this book most interesting and highly illuminating.
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on May 8, 2016
I must admit, I love Ed Meese,. Serving the the Reagan administration was an exciting time and one of America's best. I cherish those memories so I am particularly grateful for Ed's book.
I love this book and when feeling bad about the current status of the political situation, I go back to reading this book and remembering the good old days. Thanks Ed for such a wonderful book to pick up on those confusing days of today. God Bless Ronald Reagan...along with Ed and Ursula!
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VINE VOICEon March 28, 2011
"With Reagan" is the memoir of one of Ronald Reagan's closest advisers during his terms as Governor of California and President. After describing Reagan's qualities as leader in a wide variety of fields, Atty. General Meese gives his own background as a lawyer and prosecutor in the Bay area who was asked by Governor Reagan to come to Sacramento. After overcoming his initial reluctance to become involved in partisan politics, Meese became the readers' conduit into the issues that Reagan faced in California, particularly those dealing with the University of California.

After leaving Sacramento, Meese was involved in the Reagan campaigns in 1976 and 1980. He gives us an inside view of the strategic moves that brought Reagan up just short in '76 and put him over the top in '80. Of particular interest in the campaign is the turnaround at the time of the New Hampshire primary in 1980. Campaign manager John Sears had been eliminating Reagan's California team and was trying to mold Reagan into the candidate that Sears want to sell to the country. On primary day Reagan took control of the campaign, got rid of Sears, brought back his team and ran as Reagan, not a media produced shadow of himself. From then on it was a road to victory, although not without bumps. Meese illustrates the now incredible expectation that Reagan would be the weakest candidate that Carter could have faced and how he turned an uphill battle into a landslide vistory.

With victory secured, Meese was involved in the assembling of the administration. The author then provides the reader with an insider's view and partisan defense of the issues with which Reagan contended and through which he led. This book is a refresher course on what went on in the 80s: Tax cuts, the assassination attempt, negotiations with the Soviets, aid to the Contras, Grenada, missiles in Europe, the visit to the cemetery at Bitburg, Iran-Contra, the Reykjavík summit and the concluding agreements with Gorbachev. In each case Reagan is depicted as the leader who seees things clearly and who acts resolutely. The speeches about the Boys of Pointe au Hoc and "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall", echo on these pages. Throughout Meese is the advocate for the administration. He gives the Reagan view, among others, that the initiative to Iran was not negotiating with terrorists but a reach to potentially moderate factions within Iran who might have had influence over those who were holding Americans hostage in Lebanon, a major trouble spot during the Reagan years. The story of Reagan's clashes with Gaddafi is of interest particularly in light of recent events.

I found this book to be very interesting but overall an easy read. The Reagan affectionado will find justification for his sentiments. The Reagan hater will probably just be disgusted. All who view the Reagan years with an open mind will find this insider's view to be a worthwhile read.
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on November 23, 2000
Ignore the leftist tripe that might be contained in other reviews of this book; _With Reagan_ is an excellent overview of Reagan's presidency. Written by a member of the infamous troika that ran the administration in its early days, the book reviews the major achievements and downfalls of the administration. It is clearly intended to be a defense of Reagan, particularly in its discussions of Iran Contra, the economy, the national debt, and the like. Meese provides a clear, cogent discussion of where Reagan was right and where he was not. Meese also touches on Reagan's record as Governor of California.
If you're wanting to renew your memories of the Reagan years, my advice is to read this book, along with Dinesh D'Souza's _Ronald Reagan: How An Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader_.
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on September 18, 2014
Hello:
Good read & on time delivery.
John
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on March 29, 1998
This book is so rigidly dogmatic that it reads like the controlled press of a dictatorship, in which the strength and wisdom and iron will of The Leader is constantly praised and nothing he has ever said or done was mistaken. Meese, the slimiest and most hypocritical of all Reagan insiders, sees absolutely no wrongdoing at any time anywhere by any member of Reagan's core group. The highest bullshit level of any Reagan white house memoir (and I've read almost all of them). He also displays a Naziesque fondness for casting every event as a Test Of Will or of Resolve, in which the best possible victory is the quick and decisive use of excessive force, to "send a message". Lots of facts and figures to show that Reagan gets all the credit for improvements, especially in the economy, but also in the collapse of communism, where Gorbachev almost seems irrelevant. But his main point is to discredit the idea that Reagan was passive or indecisive.
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on February 20, 2001
If you want to read an objectively written book about Ronald Reagan, his years as Governor of California, or his presidency, pass on this book. From the outset, it is clear that the author, one of Reagan's inner circle and possibly the worst Attorney General of the United States this side of John Mitchell, cannot help but fawn over the Gipper.
Meese's every word is embued with such a slavish devotion to Reagan that he glosses over some of Reagan's more questionable accomplishments and policies, always portraying episodes in an "us verus them" fashion where the "us" is always right.
Anyone seriously considering the purchase of this book would do well to ignore the review of jmarkwhite, whose way of dealing with negative reviews of the book is to engage in juvenile namecalling. Here's the bottom line...if you're a big fan of Ronald Reagan and are blind to his faults (and believe me, he had some), this is the book for you. If you want an objective view of the man and his impact on America, look elsewhere.
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