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Reagan, In His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan that Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America (Biography) Paperback – October 22, 2001

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Amazon.com Review

A top advisor to Ronald Reagan once remarked of his boss: "He knows so little and accomplishes so much." Reagan, in His Own Hand will show that the 40th president knew far more than some people have given him credit for. It collects Reagan's recently discovered writings from the late 1970s, when he delivered more than a thousand radio addresses. He wrote about two-thirds of these himself, in longhand on yellow legal paper. "In writing these daily essays on almost every national policy issue during the 1970s, Reagan was acting as a one-man think tank," suggest the editors. This edition reproduces everything faithfully, right down to the spelling mistakes and crossed-out words. And it offers a compelling look at the ideas and principles that animated one of the most important Americans of the 20th century. In one address, Reagan describes his contribution to a time capsule:
I wrote of the problems we face here in 1976--The choice we face between continuing the policies of the last 40 yrs. that have led to bigger & bigger govt, less & less liberty, redistribution of earnings through confiscatory taxation or trying to get back on the original course set for us by the Founding Fathers.... On the international scene two great superpowers face each other with nuclear missiles at the ready--poised to bring Armageddon to the world.
Often his rhetoric is admirably forthright: "Calling a communist a liar when he is one is pretty frustrating. How do you insult a pig by calling it a pig?.... Fidel Castro is a liar." And there are frequent glimpses of his later achievements, such as the foreshadowing of his desire to build the Strategic Defense Initiative: "If the Soviets should push the button our magnificent warning system would immediately detect the launch of their missiles.... But there is no defense against them--no way to prevent nuclear devastation of their targets here in the U.S."

The bulk of the book comprises these radio addresses, but a concluding section includes everything from a short story Reagan wrote as a school assignment when he was 14 (it earned him a B+) to his memorable letter in 1994 revealing his Alzheimer's disease. This book will enthrall Reagan's devotees, and even his toughest critics will concede he had a way with words. No wonder they called him "The Great Communicator." --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Ronald Reagan is a puzzle: How, many wonder (and as Shultz puts it in his foreword), could he know so little and accomplish so much? The editors of this volume (two former Reagan advisers [Anderson and Anderson] and a historian [Skinner]) believe the question can be answered through Reagan's own writings. Associates describe Reagan as constantly writing, whether at home or in a hotel room, in a car or on a plane, recording his thoughts on the issues of the day. The product was almost always some form of public address, written and edited by hand. A collection of these manuscripts is presented here, just as Reagan wrote them, including his corrections and notes. With a few exceptions, they are very short radio commentaries delivered during the pre-presidential period (1975-1979), focusing mostly on foreign policy and the economy, and framed in terms of the general issue of government and freedom. There are no surprises; whether one sees Reagan as the great communicator, articulating deeply held convictions through the expression of simple but profound truths, or as the not-too-bright actor, painting a complex world in the reductionistic tones of black and white, one's expectations will be confirmed. In foreign policy Reagan is the essential Cold Warrior, understanding the world in terms of an "ideological struggle" between Communism and the proponents of freedom. In domestic policy he is the committed capitalist, always suspicious of government regulation and critical of taxation, and not above propagating theories of Communist conspiracy. Indeed, the uniformity of his outlook is quite remarkable, and whether one considers this a strength or a weakness this volume drives home the single-mindedness of the former president. (Feb. 6)Forecast: Given Reagan's enduring popularity, this could find a broad market, and a five-city author tour may pique readers' interest. Primarily, however, the book will appeal to serious students of history trying to put Reagan's ideas and ideology in historical context. First serial to the New York Times Magazine.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Biography
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Revised ed. edition (October 22, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743219384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743219389
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Thomson on March 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This selection of 670 radio commentaries Ronald Reagan wrote between 1975 and 1979 astonishes me to no end. Although I was an ardent supporter of the former President, it seemed to me that Reagan's intellect left much to be desired. At best I concluded that Reagan had superb gut instincts, but was primarily the mouthpiece of those far more intelligent than himself. The first question concerning--Reagan, In His Own Hand--that came to mind was whether Reagan relied upon a ghost writer. After all, it is well established that some political leaders such as John F. Kennedy were credited for books they never wrote. I was therefore amazed to learn that it appears Ronald Reagan didn't even have an editorial assistant. These writings are indeed the result of Reagan's many years of intellectual inquiry in issues dominating the last three quarters of a century.
The editors of this collection rightfully describe Reagan as "a one-man think tank." His insights on why Communism would inevitably disintegrate alone justifies the purchase of this work. Reagan's detractors were upset when the President called the now defunct Soviet Union an "evil empire." Nevertheless, Reagan refused to mealy mouth the truth. In the end Reagan insisted that we stay the course in our opposition to World Communism. A weaker but still dangerous Soviet Union might still exist today had it not been for President Reagan. He was proven correct and his opponents should have the integrity to admit their errors in judgment. The great leader also clearly understood the values of Democratic Capitalism. Some may legitimately nit-pick Reagan on some of the specifics, but substantially he was on target.
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By A Customer on February 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Before I begin my review, I must first say that I did not vote for Ronald Reagan. While I agree with his views on foreign policy, I did not support his stands on economic and social issues.
What I liked about this book was Reagan's writing. He was quick, to the point and consistent. You have to admire a politician that rarely waivers from his views, even if you do not agree with them. You might not have agreed with this man, but his views on the Soviet were the same when he took office as they were in his writing. The same with China, Panama, Isreal and economics.
In his writing, you see that this is a more thoughtful man than he is portrayed by others. I am sure he was more capable of having an intelligent conversation than people believed. While I would not have called Reagan a 'policy wonk', he communicated his views and ideas far better than Clinton-a man who acts like he knows he is smart.
I've read other Reagan bios and letters and memoirs of other Presidents-Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Bush and Clinton. I liked the Ambrose series on Nixon best, but this comes real close.
Anyone who is considering running for office should read this book. Reagan showed the way on how to explain complicated ideas in basic terms. All politicians of all views could learn a lot from him.
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Format: Hardcover
Ronald Reagan unjustifiably has the reputation of being vacuous with his subordinates implementing his vaguely defined policies. This view of Reagan is utter nonsense. In fact, if you remember the 1980 presidential debates against Jimmy Carter, Reagan is a man with both a vision and an understanding of the details to implement that vision. If he did not tend to the day to day details while in office, that was a concious management decision, not a failure to grasp the issues. As the writings, reproduced in this book, demonstrate, Reagan understood the details of his positions and, in radio adresses he gave over the years between his governorship and presidency, he set them forth cogently and convincingly. Despite the calumnies against him, he was, in fact extremely intelligent and insightful.
Reagan had no speechwriter prepare his radio addresses. He prepared them in longhand on legal pads and then, he edited them. This book gives examples of his editing drafts. Since Reagan carefully prepared the addresses in advance, they are preserved as "writings." I wonder how well Clinton, Gore, Bush, or anyone else would stand up if they were to speak, every week, in their own words without their remarks being ghostwritten, or at least heavily edited, by their speechwriters. I suspect none of them would hold a candle to Reagan. In addition to these speeches, this book includes other writings of Reagan. I was impressed with Reagan's understanding of issues and his attention to detail, something heretofor he has not been credited with. In seeing his foreign policy set for and his anticommunism articulated, before he was president, I am impressed that we had a president who understood the Soviet Union well and handled the "evil empire" better than any other president before him.
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Format: Hardcover
Reagan, In His Own Hand, is a treasure trove of writings that provide the reader with a unique window on Ronald Reagan's detailed vision of foreign and domestic policy. Throughout the book, Reagan defines the agenda that he would eventually take to the White House. It is striking that on several occasions, Reagan writes of the demise of communism, an idea scoffed at by leading foreign policy experts in the 1970's as well as during his presidency. Reagan, In His Own Hand, defines the vision and conviction of a man who made his mark on history with courage and optimism. The legacy of Ronald Reagan will be defined by his relentless pursuit of these ideas throughout much of his adult life. Historians will likely conclude from these writings that Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency better prepared to lead the nation than any other leader of the 20th century. Here finally, is the opportunity to see how "Reagan the Thinker" transformed the political landscape of America and the world.
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