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4.4 out of 5 stars 167 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Dinesh D'Souza rates America's 40th president as one of its greatest, right below Washington and Lincoln. He makes a forceful case for this rank, probably the best yet and perhaps the best possible. In the process, he analyzes Reagan's leadership style with remarkable clarity and subtlety. Reagan seemed ordinary in so many ways, still, millions of people believed in him and followed him. Moreover, he is the patron saint of the modern conservative movement--something that he did not create, yet nonetheless came to embody. Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader is for readers already well-disposed toward the former California governor. It may not change minds, but it will deepen the appreciation felt by Reagan's many admirers, who seem to miss the leader more with each passing day. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A former domestic policy adviser in the Reagan administration and author of the controversial The End of Racism (Free Pr., 1995), D'Souza argues that Reagan was not merely a successful president but "a truly great president who belongs in the elite company of Washington, Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt." To make that claim credible, the author ignores the Iran-contra scandal, dismisses the massive budget deficits accumulated during the Reagan years, overlooks a series of missteps by the administration, and simply gets his story wrong (e.g., Reagan's role in the downfall of Ferdinand Marcos). Attempting to show that an ordinary man became an extraordinary leader, D'Souza fails to make a key distinction between "leader" and "president." Reagan was a successful leader who mobilized a conservative movement and reshaped the terms of debate in the United States. He was, however, a less successful president who made a series of mistakes and blunders largely ignored by the author of this disappointing book.?Michael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Old Tappan, New Jersey, U.S.A.: Free Press, 1999; 1st Printing edition (February 23, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684848236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684848235
  • ASIN: B00034N1DG
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,678,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brett Williams on July 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
D'Souza does not hesitate to note flaws in Regan's character or mistakes made during his life, governorship or presidency. Even so, one sees a very different image of Reagan than what is popularized and by now accepted by default, without question, as facts of history. I was astonished at what I assumed to be true only because pundits and the media said so.
We are frequently told that Reagan was a doting "pawn" of other more intelligent powers. But D'Souza reminds us of 1976 when Reagan challenged the incumbent president - a bold move within either party. Having lost the first five states his campaign manager unilaterally established a withdrawal meeting with Ford. But Reagan, under tremendous pressure to pull out, even from his wife, refused, stating he would take his ideas all the way to the convention, even if he lost every state. Then he started to win and Ford narrowly escaped. In `82 Reagan was vilified with media prejudice (see Bernard Goldberg's "Bias") as Paul Volker (a Carter appointee) restricted the money supply, while Reagan himself signed the biggest tax cut in history. Keynesian's - advocates of centralized government intervention - shouted for Reagan's head. These actions would produce nothing they said, as tax cuts provided money to spend while shrinking the supply took it away. Who would not have changed course given the economic downturn from already depressed levels? Reagan defied pressure again with defense spending - accepting enormous deficits, as Democrats and Republicans were not willing to exchange their social programs (and associated votes) for his defense promise. Clear about financial and political costs, to Reagan, defeating the Soviets with technological strength vs. weakness was worth the price.
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Format: Hardcover
As a White House insider during the Reagan Administration, D'Souza observed first-hand the management style of one of the most respected and unrespected presidents of the last half of the 20th century. Initially, he agreed with some of the criticisms, but later came to understand that Reagan simply had a different style than other presidents.

Criticized for being intellectually lazy or simple-minded, President Reagan was never a favorite of the intellectual crowd. His Hollywood past and appeals to higher morals didn't help. Accused of napping during cabinet meetings and using his acting skills to sway public opinion, some dismiss him and his accomplishments, giving the credit to others or dumb luck. In reality, D'Souza says he was very intelligent and could grasp a situation easily, but disliked dealing in the minutiae, preferring to delegate to others. He was steered by a strong moral compass, and believed strongly in the people and their ability to make correct decisions when given the facts. His accomplishments were many, including turning around the high-inflation economy of the 1970s (although he had to weather a couple tough years of recession) and bringing the Soviet Union to it's knees by refusing to appease them.

Having grown up in the 1980s, I remember the Reagan years as a time when pride was restored to Americans, when the threat of the Soviet Union seemed very real and imminent. The suggestion that the USSR would fall by the end of the decade would have been ridiculous. But Reagan recognized that it was a system that offered no incentives to its people to perform better, and once he pushed it by forcing them into an arms race, it's weaknesses were revealed.
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Format: Hardcover
D'Souza's "Reagan" is one of those rare books which presents its subject in one light at its beginning, and then educates the reader to an entirely different view by its end.
The theme of "Reagan" is revealed in the subtitle "How an Ordinary Man Became An Extraordinary Leader." While utilizing biographical information, this is not a biography. It is the story of how Reagan's leadership confounded his critics and enabled Reagan, without brilliance or yeoman work effort, to become one of the most successful presidents in U.S. history.
Unlike some of his former aides who belittle Reagan, D'Souza provides a balanced assessment of Reagan's strengths and weaknesses. In the early part of the book , D'Souza illustrates Reagan's limitations thereby establishing his credentials as an ordinary man.
D'Souza explains Reagan's style of leadership, which basically involves establishing a general policy and then entrusting its execution to subordinates. D'Souza illustrates, by example, Reagan's leadership style through his handling of a series of crises with which he was confronted during his career. One by one, D'Souza takes us through the backgrounds of the tax cut, deployment of missiles in Europe, Bittberg, and many others. In this presentation of the Iran-Contra scandal Reagan is presented as thoroughly involved in the plan to trade arms for hostages, but unaware of the diversion of the proceeds to the Contras.
D'Souza does not explore exclusively Reagan's public leadership. He also focuses on Reagan's personal relationships as well. He portrays Reagan as one who, while publicly promoting family values, was unable to live them in his own family. Reagan, who was every American's friend, had few real friends of his own.
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