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.
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.
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