Skip to comments.What is the best book on President Ronald W. Reagan to use to teach my kids
Posted on 06/09/2004 7:24:11 AM PDT by nov7freedomday
I wish to purchase the best book available on Ronald Wilson Reagan. I would like to focus on the concrete issues, policies, and actions he took as President (and to a lesser extent Govenor). I know there are many books out there and would appreciate the feed back.
Unfortunately I don't have a ready reply, but I am bookmarking this. I'm sure we'll end up with lots of good recommendations! Thanks for posting.
bump for watching
His autobiography, An American Life is excellent and I think kids can learn a lot from it. Lou Cannon's book is good, but I don't think kids need so much of the behind the scenes political wrangling stories and all of that. If they want the principles, both philosophical, and strategic, of his attitudes about the world, about handling people, about leading, then I recommend his own words.
"Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader" by Dinesh D'Souza
"When Character Was King" by Peggy Noonan
It's published by Dorling Kindersley.
Ditto. Those two and his autobiography are all recommended reading. If I was going to choose one (hmmmm, tough call), I think I might go with the audio version of his autobiography since he read it himself.
I'm gonna purchase a few of these the day that Clinton's comes out.
That would be awesome if books on Reagan outsold his!
Dinesh D'Souza's book is one of the better ones.
If you wish to learn RR's plan to end the cold war I would recommend "Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union"
by Peter Schweizer
For a good understanding of Reagan the man, I highly recommend "Dutch" by Edmund Morris. While it was initially panned by some hard core Reaganites when it was first released (even by those who admittedly hadn't read it) partly because it was written in the unique style of the author creating a fictitious first person whose life path crossed from time to time with Reagan and partly because it dared to suggest that Reagan wasn't perfection incarnate, the book was, overall, quite complementary of Reagan. For instance, while the democrats and other lefties have always suggested that Reagan was a political airhead, you learn in the book that Reagan was extremely oriented towards politics and political debate from early on - so much so that during his film career in the 1950s, he got the reputation of being a bit of a bore at Hollywood parties because he always wanted to get into detailed and technical political discussions. It's a good, colorful, entertaining read that certainly gave me added respected for the man.
Was this the writer who came up w/the "Tear Down this Wall" phrase? Name looks vaguely familiar. Read an article about it either in American Heritage or American History a year ago or so.
See if you can find a copy of "Speaking My Mind", which is a collection of Reagan's important speeches -- while it won't be enough by itself, having it will help put the insider and historical texts into sharper relief.
Read the commentary at Amazon.
Reagan's 40 Year War on Communism. (maybe a slightly different title.
This book details why Reagan thought how he did about Commies. It details his time in Hollywood and his fights against the comies in the SAG union.
Any Reagan lover or hater should read it because you will understand everything he did as President because of his past.
You will even learn that his first marriage broke up over his anti-commie stance hurting his wife's career.
I would also read Charlie's War, which not about Reagan, it tells how we defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan over the wishes of the CIA, State dept, Defense dept, and Congress, by the sheer will power of a single congressman from Texas, Charlie Wilson, and an outsider CIA man Gus Avrokostos (sp).
Those two books together will tell you how Reagan came to fight Commies and how it ended so quickly for the Soviets.
I have a set of tapes that contain his important speeches from the 60s through the 90s. I think that listening to the speeches together and discussing them would be worthwhile.
That's a good idea. I think I'll do that, too.
I would use his autobiography, "An American Life." He really says all there is to say about him.
BTTT for more great suggestions.
I hope they put his speeches out on CD - - wouldn't that be wonderful!
Hey, RNC! Want a good way to raise campaign funds? Put President Reagan's speeches out on CD.......
I've read every book on this list outside of Witness by Chambers (going to order it next for reading after Jeff Heads volume IV) and nothing is as good as Reagan's 40 year war against communism.
I haven't seen a bad book on this list, especially Desousa's and Noonan's, but the Reaga's War just give so much insight.
I loaned it to a liberal gal at work and she now understands REagan so well. Typical liberal/ Reagan Democrat, votes liberal and lives conservatively.
We went to B&N the other night, and I looked around the displays at the front of the store to see if they had ANY Reagan books or displays. NONE. We continued through the store, and I paused at the information counter to look at the Bubba advertisement for his fiction that hits the shelves Friday. I was going to turn it around, but it is a two-sided display. As I paused, the person behind the counter thought I had a question, but I told her I had none. I then remarked that I thought it odd that the store had not put a Reagan display at the front entrance. The employee said, "You know, you're right. I had thought of that earlier . . ." I then went to the children's section and looked at their biography section. There was not one book on Reagan. NONE. It is possible they had removed them to the display of paperbacks that they had put up at the back of the store. (yes, when we paid for our purchases, I asked if there was a display anywhere in the store with Reagan books, and the cashier said there was a "display of paperbacks in the back.")
We have quite a few Reagan books in our house. None are geared for children. I love the books with Reagan's letters. I also like the Edmund Morris bio even though others hate it. The picture on the cover says it all about President Reagan. He was a man with a side that few saw, including Morris.
Jude Wanniski: The Way the World Works.
George Gilder: Wealth and Poverty.
Peggy Noonan: What I Saw at the Revolution.
The first two are not histories of the Reagan years, but books that contain the ideas that guided the Reagan administration. Peggy Noonan's is not a complete history or biography, but is full of insight into Reagan's character and agenda.
Is that what changed RR?
Wow, I didn't know that, but can see why!
What a great book Witness is.
Start with President Reagan's autobiography. Once done with that, any of the other books will provide more detail.
I love both of Peggy Noonan's books.
Awesome idea! I was going to order one this minute for summer reading for my 12-year-old budding conservative, but I'll wait until Clintoon's work of self-serving fiction comes out. What day is that?
Noonan's "When Character Was King" is the best short book on Reagan's life, character, and accomplishments that I have read.
I really enjoyed When Character Was King. I have most of the books written contemporary to his Presidency and later. This one is pretty good and accessible.
(who will be digging out his copy by tomorrow.)
Got to get those two books!!
Robinson was a guest on Hugh Hewitt's show a few days ago, a fascinating interview. He told how much the State Dept. and local German officials were so against the "tear down this wall" line in the great speech. He even mentioned going "nose to nose" with a young Colin Powell, who was some kind of a deputy secretary at the time. Then, Robinson asked a small group of locals what they thought of the Berlin wall. They were quiet for a minute, then one explained his sister was a few kilometers away, and he hadn't seen her in years. They all then said how much they hated the wall. That was a big part of the decision to leave the line in the speech.
You're right. Robinson flew to Berlin to meet with some Berliners in preparation for writing the President's Berlin speech. He had in mind elements of Kennedy's Berlin Speech from back in the 1960s, but also interviewed locals for a lot of the material. He wanted the President's address to be woven with the beliefs held by locals. He also wanted the speech to be a powerful message which would actually be heard in East Berlin (some East Berliners tuned into the radio broadcast of the speech, which was a big no-no but they did it anyway).
Robinson's meeting with locals formed the basis for which the line was included in the original draft of the speech. The decision to keep the line (after the State Dept cut it) was all Reagan, seemingly in an act of defiance against his own State Dept. He kept it because he liked the line, he understood its powerful message, and he knew the feelings that Berliners had in their hearts in regards to the wall.
It was at a time when Gorbachev was trying to hype a lot of peace, openness, and cooperation on the part of the Soviet Union. Reagan challenged him, saying if he were truly supportive of these things, tear down the wall. It was incredible that only a few years later, it actually happened.
I'm starting to recall all of this now that you mention it. I haven't read the book since it was first released.
"Reagan: A Life in Letters"
I would like to see a good, solid, comprehensive biography of Reagan's life, from childhood until he left the Presidency.
I don't know if one has been written, yet.
I should also note that "An American Life" was not the first Reagan autobiography. "Where's The Rest Of Me?" was a Reagan autobiography written in 1965. I've been meaning to get this book and will do so now.
I've read Lou Cannon's "The Role of a Lifetime" and it has some interesting information, but I'd stay away from it for a first book on President Reagan. I kept getting the impression that Cannon was practicing a "death by 'a thousand cuts" approach to the biography. You would read some interesting information, but Cannon was right there with his opinion in a very direct way that seemed to be overpowering. Some writers can write about their subject and do it well, without it being overpowering with their slant. Stephen Ambrose could do this quite well - Lou Cannon was a good reporter, but as a biographer, I have my doubts.
I am very interested in President Reagan, and especially the early years in his political career. The following are some books I have found most useful.
First, when I first started reading about Reagan, I read material that could be (or reasonably be) directly attributed to him. I think it's important to do this, so you first get an exposure to President Reagan in his own words, and not filtered via a biography.
My top picks:
Reagan In His Own Voice - by Kiron K. Skinner, et al
Absolutely outstanding. You get to hear President Reagan when he was doing his radio commentaries in the late 1970's.
Reagan, in His Own Hand: Ronald Regan's Writings That Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America by Kiron K. Skinner (Editor), et al
Same here. Dr. Skinner, et al has really done a good job putting together many of Reagan's commentaries, the majority of which he wrote himself.
An American Life - by Ronald Reagan
Reagan's second autobiography. I hear complaints that it was ghostwritten. So what? Do people think that Clinton wrote his autobiography without the help of a ghostwriter?
Where's the Rest of Me: The Autobiography of Ronald Reagan. With Richard G. Hubler
Little known to most folks is that Regan wrote his first autobiography circa 1965. It's out of print - which I don't quite understand. You can get a copy on Ebay or through Inter Library Loan at a local library.
President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon by Lou Cannon
I have mixed feelings about this book. I kept getting the impression that Cannon was trying to prove something other than discussing Reagan's presidency. I read the entire book, and it does have much good information, thus I recommend for reading. Certainly, President Reagan had flaws. But I got the impression that Cannon was at times trying to bash Reagan over the head with these flaws.
Reagan's America by Garry Wills
I did not make it all the way through this book and will finish up later this Spring. It is a slogging, tedious read. I understand the concept of Wills trying to explain the forces in America that shaped President Regan. But he rambles at times- well, a lot. And it makes for a real tedious read. But it also has much detailed information.
Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power by Lou Cannon
What I am reading now as of 02/2005. Through about 100 pages and pleased with the book. It certainly carries itself in a more scholarly manner that Cannon's "President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime ". Note that Cannon wrote this book in 2003 AFTER President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, so be mindful that many years have elapsed since Reagan's days as California governor, and keep an eye to Cannon trying to describe events that occurred in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's, but opining through the prism of the early years of the 21st century.
Yet to read this summer:
Reagan's Path to Victory : The Shaping of Ronald Reagan's Vision: Selected Writings by George P. Shultz (Foreword), Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson, Martin Anderson
Reagan: A Life in Letters by Kiron K. Skinner (Editor), Annelise Anderson (Editor), Martin Anderson (Editor), George P. Shultz (Foreword)
When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan by Peggy Noonan
I would initially stick to writings by Reagan himself to start with, then move on to biographies and books by others about Reagan.