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What I Am Reading: Reagan: A Life Rolling Review2

by John on 05/31/2015

Just finished H.W. Brands’ Reagan: The Life. It’s worth the read.

Here is the first part of my rolling book review.

Here are my take-aways:

There are not too many surprises about Reagan and his life (“There you go again”) – especially if you followed politics and history in the 20th Century.

Biggest new nugget: Ronnie’s Alzheimer’s may have been caused by a fall from a horse in 1989 after he left the White House.

Excruciating to hear his testimony during Iran-Contra criminal case against John Poindexter. The Gipper was losing his mental faculties.

H.W. Brands is not a cheerleader for Reagan. He points to the lax, hands off management style of Reagan that fostered an environment of criminal activity that led to the Iran-Contra Affair. Still, Reagan refuses to pardon Oliver North

Brands also touts Reagan as more pragmatic than conservative – something today’s crop of GOP presidential hopefuls would do well to understand. Reagan is quoted as saying, “I would rather get 80% of what I want rather than go over the cliff with my flag flying.”

Brands will point to nuclear reductions and disarmament with the then-Soviet Union and Mikhail Gorbachev as Reagan’s crowning achievement that few will dispute. Brands takes you inside the one-on-one negotiations between the two leaders who were – in sports terms – evenly matched and equally respectful of each other.

The second big new nugget: Raisa Gorbachev was a real pain in the ass to deal with for Nancy Reagan.

The book is long. It took me about 7 long sessions on Audible. But again, it is well-written and it moves. Granted, I listen at 2.5X or 3X the speed.


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