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Reagan's War: The Epic Story of his Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism Hardcover – October 15, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Cold War rhetoric of the subtitle is completely apropos to this hagiography, which gives the Gipper full credit for bringing down the Soviet Union. Schweizer is a fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and coauthor, with Caspar Weinberger (Reagan's secretary of defense) of The Next War. Using Reagan's own files and papers, and other newly released material, Schweizer demonstrates Reagan's development as a critic and determined opponent of communism and of the Stalinist Soviet Union. Schweizer depicts Reagan, from the beginning, regarding tactics and realpolitik as more important than ideas; in the process, the author does not carefully distinguish (as Reagan and most others of the era did not) Stalinism and what came after from communism as an ideal. Reflection, study and conviction led Reagan to the belief that steady pressure systematically applied would eventually bring down a Soviet Union whose legitimacy rested ultimately on force. He remained committed to this vision as his status rose in a Republican Party itself increasingly committed to a detente that Reagan argued both weakened the West and prolonged the survival of its rival power. Schweizer takes pains to establish the widespread belief in the West by 1980 that the balance of economic, military, and political forces had irrevocably shifted in favor of the U.S.S.R. On assuming the presidency, Reagan brought about a huge change in U.S. policy, abandoning defensive counterpunching and actively prosecuting a Cold War the U.S.S.R. had never ceased to wage. Schweizer argues that Reagan spent as much time convincing his own lieutenants to abandon the defensive as he did confronting the Russians. It's a story that is clearly and stirringly told, but without seriously entertaining dissenting views on its iconic subject.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Ronald Reagan remains a polarizing figure. Critics have dismissed him as an "amiable dunce," while supporters see him as an underappreciated political genius. This book falls squarely into the latter camp, arguing that Ronald Reagan "won the Cold War." The consensus among experts is that credit for our Cold War victory is widely shared by Harry Truman and the policies he developed after World War II; the American people who suffered and died to protect freedom; our allies, who were part of the decades-long effort; Mikhail Gorbachev for his efforts to open up the Soviet Union; and finally Reagan for his policies toward what he called "the evil empire." Few serious analysts, however, would go as far as Schweizer (Disney: The Mouse Betrayed) does in attributing victory almost solely to Reagan. The strength of this book is found in the early chapters, where the author traces the development of Reagan's anticommunism from his days as head of the Hollywood Screen Actors Guild to his entry into politics in California. It demonstrates Reagan's consistent view over time and how his commitment to freedom animated his actions. The book's weakness is in its political bias, which unfairly dismisses the efforts by several generations and other Presidents to stem, then turn, the tide of communism. Suitable for large and university libraries.
--Michael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (October 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385504713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385504713
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Big Dave on October 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's a pretty unusual book that sports praise from Margaret Thatcher, Lech Walesa and Caspar Weinberger on its dust jacket, but then Ronald Reagan was a pretty unusual man.
_Reagan's War_ isn't a biography. It starts with the adult Reagan already married to Jane Wyman and in Hollywood, beginning his "forty-year struggle" against communism, and it ends with the end of Reagan's Presidency. In between Schweizer recounts the tale of how Ronald Reagan -- often alone and against public opinion and advice -- won the Cold War.
_Reagan's War_ is an important reminder of many truths about the Cold War: that Soviet communism was aggressively imperialist, determined to rule the world; that the Soviets crushed their own citizens and mangled their own economy; that the Soviets were aided and abetted by many agents and useful idiots in the West; that a generation of American politicians allowed the Soviets to expand and dominate by constantly giving ground and putting faith in the mirage of detente; and that Reagan beat the Soviets, precisely by being a warmongering cowboy who would not accept compromise or defeat. Reagan challenged the Soviets on all fronts, supporting the Solidarity movement in Poland, broadcasting Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America into Soviet territory, arming and training insurgents fighting Soviet occupation, and most especially, by committing to an arms race that he knew the lumbering Soviet economy could not win.
_Reagan's War_ is well-written, often entertaining and sometimes quite moving. In addition to being important history, the tale of Reagan's war against communism is a great moral example of the difference that an individual can make and a powerful illustration of the force of freedom.
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Format: Hardcover
REAGAN'S WAR begins with a terse retelling of the "Battle of Hollywood," a violent 1946 strike by a Communist-controlled labor union against the Warner Brothers studio. The strike fizzled, as did the Communist attempt to take over a studio. From the perspective of the Kremlin, it must have seemed like a small defeat at the time. But the unintended consequence of that strike was that an actor on the Warner lot, Ronald Reagan, began to realize that Communism posed a serious threat to American liberty.
REAGAN'S WAR tells the story of how Reagan developed his commitment to rolling back Communism and how his policies resulted in a fatal blow to the evil Soviet empire.
REAGAN'S WAR is not a biography, but a reexamination of Reagan's life through the narrowing prism of anti-Communism. Loyal Reaganites will find little emphasis on Reagan's tax-cutting fervor, or the resulting economic expansion. Critics of the Reagan Administration may be disappointed that Iran-Contra is mentioned only briefly (and Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North only once). But the readers who will be the most dissatisfied --- if they read the book at all --- will be the former Communist elite in the former Soviet Union.
For them, REAGAN'S WAR will bring back only painful memories of tyranny past.
The part of the book that will most educate readers deals with Reagan's formative experiences in anti-Communism, placing his evolving worldview in counterpoint with the aggressive tactics of the Kremlin. While Communist satellite governments were consolidating their hold on Eastern Europe, Reagan recorded fundraising appeals for what would become Radio Free Europe and helped build Democratic support for Dwight Eisenhower.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I never was interested in the man when I was growing up. But a lot of things that I remember usually revolved around criticisms and putdowns of a lot of things he did. I read this book hoping to find out more about the man, since so many titles have been coming out. I wasn't disappointed. Here was an individual who had prepared all his life to fight against tyranny and oppression. It was really amazing to me how smart and insightful Reagan was considering all the bashing he gets. I don't think anyone can disagree with his determination and will to bring the Soviet Union down. I really appreciated the references in the back since it made the book even more credible.
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Format: Hardcover
The above is one of Reagan's best quotes. Before a planned speech , Reagan had once joked, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Soviet Union has been declared an outlaw nation. The bombing starts in five minutes."
Much of Reagan's outlook can be inferred from this quote.
This a book on Reagan's long struggle against Communism. It goes back to his Hollywood days, when he fought against the heavy handed and illegal activities of some Communist union members who were even on Soviet Union's payroll.
It would be a mistake to think that Reagan was simpleminded in his anti-Communism. He was a shrewd and subtle thinker. He gave encouragement to union memebers who were thinking of leaving Communism but were afraid of backlash.
Concerning Senator Jospeh McCarthy, while Reagan agreed with his goal--rooting secret Communist influence from government--AND THERE WERE SPIES--he disagreed with his tactics and felt that McCarthy's tactics was hurting the cause of anti-Communism.
An interesting comparison is made between Nixon and Reagan. Nixon had made a career of being anti-Communist. He was one of the top anti-Communist politicians in the 50s and 60s. But when Nixon was President, he pursued a policy of detente with the Soviets and made an overture to Communist China. How did Reagan feel about this? Reagan disagreed with Nixon's policy of detente. Reagan was proved correct in this, for during the detente period from Nixon to Carter, the Soviet Union proceeded with an expansionist policy and countries in developing world fell to Communism. As to the overture to China, I learned that Reagan agreed with this. Reagan is quoted, "Russia is still enemy number one...
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