The most prominent politician of my life, Ronald Reagan, has passed away. Reagan cast a large shadow over the politics of my life and my political development. Anything I say here will seem rather small and silly, but to me he was a great leader, a great American, and a great man. When Richard Nixon passed away when I was college it seemed a historic event but one that I was detached from. Reagan’s passing seems more personal. It also seems more melancholy given his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Perhaps it seems over the top but I feel a little heavier of heart today.
If you are seeking reading material on Reagan here are a few suggestions ( admittedly skewed toward appreciations):
– The Age of Reagan by Steven Hayward attempts to put Reagan in perspective in terms of the history; to chart how he impacted the period from 1964 to 1980. It is a large book at 848 pages. It is also from an admittedly conservative position.
– Robert Dallek’s The Right Moment is a historian’s attempt to capture Reagan’s early success and its impact on American politics.
– Reagan’s long time political advisor Michael Deaver has written two short works on the Reagans. A Different Drummer covers Deaver’s years with Reagan and the recently released Nancy obviously deals with the first lady.
– A couple of other short works written by conservatives are Dinesh D’Souza’s RONALD REAGAN: HOW AN ORDINARY MAN BECAME AN EXTRAORDINARY LEADER and Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan’s When Character Was King.
– If you want to see how not to write an biography – and it was the authorized biography – you can read Edmund Morris’s Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan. Morris was so undone by Reagan that he had to resort to fictionalizing what was supposed to be an epic biography.
– Just recently there have been a couple of books published focusing on Reagan and his faith: God and Ronald Reagan : A Spiritual Life and Hand Of Providence : The Strong and Quiet Faith of Ronald Reagan.
– If you want to get a sense of Reagan from his own writing check out Reagan, In His Own Hand which “collects Reagan’s recently discovered writings from the late 1970s, when he delivered more than a thousand radio addresses” or Reagan: A Life in Letters, which is obviously a collection of letters. This volume contains over 1,000 letters stretching from 1922 to 1994.
I am going to try and read a bit deeper into my Reagan library in the next few months and give you a sense of the contents and merits of these works (I own almost all of the above but have not read them all). It seems appropriate to study the life and times of our 40th president now that he is passed on. May he rest in peace.