Synopses & Reviews
Twenty-five years after Ronald Reagan became president, Richard Reeves has written a surprising and revealing portrait of one of the most important leaders of the twentieth century. As he did in his bestselling books President Kennedy: Profile of Power
and President Nixon: Alone in the White House
, Reeves has used newly declassified documents and hundreds of interviews to show a president at work day by day, sometimes minute by minute.
President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination is the story of an accomplished politician, a bold, even reckless leader, a gambler, a man who imagined an American past and an American future and made them real. He is a man of ideas who changed the world for better or worse, a man who understands that words are often more important than deeds. Reeves shows a man who understands how to be President, who knows that the job is not to manage the government but to lead the nation. In many ways, a quarter of a century later, he is still leading. As his vice president, George H. W. Bush, said after Reagan was shot and hospitalized in 1981: "We will act as if he were here."
He is a heroic figure if not always a hero. He did not destroy communism, as his champions claim, but he knew it would self-destruct and hastened the collapse. No small thing. He believed the Soviet Union was evil and he had contempt for the established American policies of containment and détente. Asked about his own Cold War strategy, he answered: "We win. They lose!"
Like one of his heroes, Franklin D. Roosevelt, he has become larger than life. As Roosevelt became an icon central to American liberalism, Reagan became the nucleus holding together American conservatism. He is the only president whose name became a political creed, a noun not an adjective: "Reaganism."
Reagan's ideas were so old they seemed new. He preached an individualism, inspiring and cruel, that isolated and shamed the halt and the lame. He dumbed-down America, brilliantly blending fact and fiction, transforming political debate into emotion-driven entertainment. He recklessly mortgaged America with uncontrolled military spending, less taxation, and more debt.
In focusing on the key moments of the Reagan presidency, Reeves recounts the amazing resiliency of Ronald Reagan, the real "comeback kid." Here is a seventy-year-old man coming back from a near-fatal gunshot wound, from cancer, from the worst recession in American history. Then, in personal despair as his administration was shredded by the lying and secrets of hidden wars and double-dealing, he was able to forge one of history's amazing relationships with the leader of "the Evil Empire." That story is told for the first time using the transcripts of the Reagan-Gorbachev meetings, the climax of an epic story as if he were here.
"Celebrated journalist Reeves (President Nixon: Alone in the White House) takes the same vivid, fly-on-the-wall approach he's previously applied with such success to Nixon and Kennedy, and uses it just as skillfully to take us inside the administration, mind and character of Ronald Reagan. As usual, Reeves's omniscient form of narrative requires him to delve deeply into oral histories and other first-person accounts from key participants, mining them for details concerning scores of meetings, negotiations, pranks and tragedies. Reeves is particularly strong at portraying Reagan's almost organically intuitive approach to management. Here we have the Gipper's artful delegation of details along the road to fulfilling his short list of grand goals: the destruction of world communism, the downsizing of taxes and government, and a revival of nearly jingoistic American patriotism. Reeves detects the subtle craft of a shrewd actor within Reagan's apparent wide-eyed navet: the wily political performer playing a carefully calculated role innocent patriot, Boy Scout grown big, the model Mr. Smith going to Washington. This is the imagined president, the facade emerging triumphant after eight years in office, affecting the sense more contrived, some said, then real of great battles won and great beasts slain. 100,000 first printing; first serial to Reader's Digest. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[An] above-average work of journalism....Meticulous and fair, Reeves sets the bar for the historian who would attempt a definitive history of the Reagan years." Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
"[A] readable and thorough account of Ronald Reagan's presidency....[An] excellent work on a controversial figure...recommended..." Library Journal
"[A]s solid a look at the eight years of the Reagan presidency as anything that has been written." Sacramento Bee
"After all the mythologizing that took place after Reagan died in June 2004, this book is worth reading because it provides a more evenhanded description of Reagan's eight years in office." Houston Chronicle
"[A] cogent, evenhanded, in-depth examination of the Reagan presidency..." USA Today
"Reeves...sacrifices depth and scope to detail and occasional drama....It becomes dull, tedious and inert." Providence Journal
"[A] compelling read, fast-paced and scrupulously fair....Anybody who is interested in Reagan's extraordinary presidency needs to reckon with Reeves." New York Times
"Readers are in Reeves's debt for this entertaining, deeply reported and revealing portrait of a man destined to be in death what he was in life: a figure of enduring fascination." Washington Post
Acclaimed presidential historian Richard Reeves takes on the puzzle of Ronald Reagan, a man of limited breadth and knowledge who was perhaps the most effective president of postwar, superpower United States. Black-and-white photos included.
Now in paperback, this acclaimed account of a presidency by historian Robert Reeves solves the puzzle of Ronald Reagan, a man of limited breadth and knowledge who was perhaps the most effective president of postwar, superpower United States. 16 pages of photos.Now in paperback, this acclaimed account of a presidency by historian Robert Reeves solves the puzzle of Ronald Reagan, a man of limited breadth and knowledge who was perhaps the most effective president of postwar, superpower United States. 16 pages of photos.
About the Author
Richard Reeves is the author of President Kennedy: Profile of Power and President Nixon: Alone in the White House. This is his eleventh book. He is a syndicated columnist and a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. His television films have won Emmy, duPont-Columbia, and Peabody awards.
Table of Contents
1 January 20, 1981
2 March 30, 1981
3 April 28, 1981
4 August 8, 1981
5 August 13, 1981
6 June 8, 1982
7 March 8, 1983
8 September 5, 1983
9 February 26, 1984
10 November 6, 1984
11 March 11, 1985
12 November 16, 1985
13 November 19, 1985
14 January 28, 1986
15 June 17, 1986
16 October 12, 1986
17 November 25, 1986
18 June 12, 1987
19 July 7, 1987
20 October 19, 1987
21 December 8, 1987
22 May 29, 1988
23 January 11, 1989