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Reagan's Disciple: George W. Bush's Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy Hardcover – January 29, 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Reagan's Disciple is the ideal antidote for the superficial and imitative analysis that seems to dominate the coverage of George W. Bush. For those looking for a deeper and fairer understanding of the strengths and flaws of his presidency, and for penetrating observations about Ronald Reagan's enduring influence on this country, this is the book to read." -- U.S. Senator John McCain

"A fascinating and timely comparison of two important--and very different--U.S. presidents, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, by two of the nation's top political reporters. Lou Cannon, Reagan's preeminent biographer, and his son, Carl M. Cannon, compare their philosophies, actions, and personalities. By March 2003, the authors tell us, George Bush was `No longer Reagan's disciple, he was his own man--for better or worse.'" -- Martin Anderson and Annelise Anderson, fellows at the Hoover Institution and co-editor of Reagan, In His Own Hand and Reagan: A Life in Letters

"As George Bush's presidency draws to a close, biographers are scrambling to capture its essence between hard covers. Few will do as good a job as Lou and Carl Cannon. The Cannons are canny, diligent reporters steeped in American politics. Mr. Cannon senior has written five books about Ronald Reagan. Carl, his son, was until recently the White House correspondent for the National Journal, a weekly magazine for Washington insiders. In "Reagan's Disciple", they have produced as subtle an account of the past seven years as you could wish for." -- Economist, February 28, 2008

"Did George W. Bush ratify or derail the Reagan revolution? No two people are better placed to answer this important question than Lou and Carl M. Cannon. They do so with elegance and conviction in this fascinating book." -- Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Dean of the Kennedy School of Government and author of Soft Power

"Disciple is packed with backroom stories and insider details that political junkies will lap up." -- Rocky Mountain News , February 29, 2008

"If you want to understand the long political shadow President Ronald Reagan has cast over the Bush administration, this is the book for you. The Cannons have written a deeply informative and lucid analysis of how Reagan's freedom-tinged Cold War policies have influenced post-9/11 decision making. A truly important and wise book." -- Douglas Brinkley, professor of History and Baker Institute Fellow at Rice University, and editor of The Reagan Diaries

"Lou and Carl, as usual, get it right. Uncommon anecdotes, insights, and analysis that catalogue why one president soared--and one didn't. They tell it like it was, and like it is." -- Kenneth M. Duberstein, former Reagan White House chief of staff

"The Cannons write well and...deliver splendid passages full of fresh insights. Along the way, even the politically attentive will learn some interesting new facts. For me, they included the fact that the bomb that leveled the US Marine encampment in Lebanon in 1983, killing hundreds, was at the time the largest nonnuclear explosion ever detonated. And my favorite fact of all: that the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee rejected Ronald Reagan as a candidate for Congress in 1952 because he was too liberal. That's just one of many seismic political shifts you'll find chronicled in these pages." -- Christian Science Monitor, March 4, 2008

"The Cannons...are reporters, not bloggers. Their tone is dispassionate. Their prose is measured, with nary a pejorative adjective. They are devoted to "analysis based on facts and historical context," and that is precisely the strength of this book, which interweaves the Reagan and Bush narratives (the father covered Reagan for The Washington Post; the son covered Bush for the National Journal) and arrives at judicious findings based on the weight of the evidence." -- Washington Post Book World, March 9, 2008

"[A] sharp and discriminating account." -- New York Times Book Review, March 2, 2008

About the Author

Carl M. Cannon is the White House correspondent for National Journal, the author of The Pursuit of Happiness in Times of War, and co-author of Boy Genius: Karl Rove, The Architect of George W. Bush's Remarkable Political Triumphs. He lives in Washington, D.C. Lou Cannon covered Ronald Reagan for thirty-six years, first as a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, later as The Washington Post White House correspondent. The author of five other books on Reagan including President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, he lives in Summerland, California.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (January 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586484486
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586484484
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,648,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on March 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Lou Cannon, journalist and historian, is one of Ronald Reagan's most prolific and reliable biographers (I think his President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime is still about the best bio yet written of our 40th president). Carl M. Cannon is a resourceful and clear-eyed reporter in the Washington of Bush 43. Together, they have produced an interesting book that gives us some valuable insights into the motivations and actions of the Bush presidency. It also, perhaps unexpectedly, shines a fascinating light on Ronald Reagan.

For years -- before, during, and after his time in the Oval Office -- Ronald Reagan was portrayed by his opposition as a dim ideological cowboy. In recent years, however, he has been granted a Strange New Respect (as R.E. Tyrrell might put it) by the Left -- in part, no doubt, to try to seize a bit of his own still-strong popularity with the American people for their own purposes, but also to use as a cudgel with which to beat the new, dimmer ideological cowboy, George W. Bush. To use the inevitable cliché -- so inevitable that even the Washington Post Book World review quoted on this page made use of it -- "George W. Bush, you're no Ronald Reagan."

It's one of the many paradoxical features of today's political scene that it's now the Left who sees in Ronald Reagan a nuanced, deliberative statesman, while the Right (or at least the neocon, Bushian right) honors a one-dimensional, caricatured memory of who Reagan was and what he believed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lou Cannon, author of several books about Ronald Reagan, has co-written "Reagan's Disciple", with his son Carl. A highly insightful, yet somewhat uneven book, it nonetheless makes some great comparisons between our nation's fortieth and forty-third presidents. Guess which one fares less well?

The authors state in the preface that this is a book with "a fair and balanced point of view". In many respects it is, but it's hard not to notice (at least with the elder Cannon) a sense of awe regarding his subject. Granted, Reagan's star has been rising in past years and the Cannons take full measure of it. That legacy is still in dispute with many of us, but this offering certainly makes Bush look inadequate in contrast. If Reagan brought the Republican party into unanimity a generation ago, Bush has almost singlehandedly squandered it, as the authors point out.

Much of "Reagan's Disciple" deals with war, beginning with a look at Woodrow Wilson's idealism, and subsequently how Reagan and Bush looked at war differently. Reagan, ever cautious about foreign entanglements, would almost certainly not have invaded Iraq as Bush did, much to everyone's chagrin today. The narrative of the Cannons is crisp but the subject matter tends to bounce around leaving a less than unifying story line. Yet the contrasting style of Reagan and Bush is the most fascinating part of the book and the authors tell this one well. While Reagan sought broad consensus and a balanced view, Bush has retained a small coterie of yes-men with hardly divergent views.

As we reach the end of the tragic Bush years, "Reagan's Disciple" is a reminder of the bookends of the Republican domination since 1980. The "Morning in America" brand of Ronald Reagan has been wiped clean by the miasma of the past several years.
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Format: Hardcover
I haven't read this book and don't intend to. I'm only writing this because these two nitwits clearly haven't a clue what Regan thought of George W. Bush. There is quote from the Regan Library archives in which Ronald Regan mentions George Senior asking the then President to find a job for his son (George W.) and Regan's personal thoughts, written in his diary, was nothing short of George W. Bush as a "Ner' do well son" of Bush senior and in fact Regan considered the "boy" as not too bright and possibly being able to "work in the mailroom"!

Ronald Regan would have rolled in his grave had he seen what little Bush did to this country. To even allow that jackass' image to grace the cover of a book with a man that history is proving at the very least, to be one of the most couragious leader's of our modern time is a pure disgrace! Bush is a far cry from Regan's disciple and wasn't even allowed in the oval office when Regan was President!

What is it that makes these Yahoos an authority on Regan? These two bumbling idiots should put down their crayons and actually visit the Regan Library, it's quite remarkable, as it what Regan did for our country to end the Cold War and squash Communism.
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