Reagan: The Man and His Presidency

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Morning in America. The "Star Wars" initiative. The advent of AIDS. The invasion of Grenada. Trickle-down economics. The Achille Lauro hijacking. The bombing of Libya. The Iran-Contra scandal. These are some of the major stories of the American 1980s, all of them part of an overarching story, the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the man whose personality, character, and conservative ideology defined the decade. Now these stories are retold by the men and women who lived them - Reagan's friends, aides, cabinet ...
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Overview

Morning in America. The "Star Wars" initiative. The advent of AIDS. The invasion of Grenada. Trickle-down economics. The Achille Lauro hijacking. The bombing of Libya. The Iran-Contra scandal. These are some of the major stories of the American 1980s, all of them part of an overarching story, the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the man whose personality, character, and conservative ideology defined the decade. Now these stories are retold by the men and women who lived them - Reagan's friends, aides, cabinet members, and political opponents; journalists, critics, and foreign heads of state - in an unprecedented oral history of the era, from Reagan's failed run at the presidency in 1976 to his legacy today.

Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald S. Strober have interviewed most of the key players of the Reagan years, from George Bush and Jerry Falwell to Oliver North and Manuel Noriega. The testimony of these witnesses - always candid and detailed and sometimes contradictory - is woven into a single rich narrative, whose highlights include a tour-de-force reconstruction of the Iran-Contra scandal, from the arms-for-hostages deal to the special investigation and its political aftermath. No other book takes us further inside the Reagan White House or brings us closer to the man himself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Following the format of their oral histories of the Kennedy and Nixon presidencies, the authors of this sympathetic, composite portrait of Ronald Reagan have spliced together interviews with 108 administration insiders, friends and political associates, among them Gerald Ford, Edwin Meese, George Bush, Colin Powell, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Oliver North, Fawn Hall, Yitzhak Shamir and King Hussein of Jordan. Organized thematically, the interview snippets range from Reagan's selections for his Cabinets to the arms-for-hostage deal with Iran, U.S. support for Nicaragua's contras and Reagan's current struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Both self-serving and revealing, the comments add new details to our knowledge of the Reagan presidency. Although this compilation often reads like a glowing tribute, even Reagan detractors will find pertinent material, for example, the wide influence of astrologer Joan Quigley, the first lady's informal adviser, on White House decisions, and the constant internecine infighting among top Reagan appointees. There are many memorable quotes, e.g., this from Reagan's press secretary Lyn Nofziger: "[Secretary of the Treasury James] Baker is one of the great leakers of our time. He spends a lot of time with the press." (June)
Library Journal
The Strobers, compilers of two well-received oral histories, Let Us Begin Anew: An Oral History of the Kennedy Presidency (LJ 3/15/93) and Nixon: An Oral History of His Presidency (LJ 11/1/94), here interview more than 100 cabinet members, international leaders, and former presidents Bush and Ford, in this narrative of the Reagan years. The contributors mostly remember Reagan admirably and fondly, as a kind man with sharp political instincts and communication skills. A lengthy section on Latin America becomes bogged down by the complicated, confusing relations among leaders and some scoundrels, while the segments on the fall of the Soviet Empire and the Iran-Contra scandal clarify the bewildering circumstances of both events. This entertaining and informed compilation would have been even better if it addressed domestic issues, such as declining race relations, the economic impact of large deficits, and the growing conservatism of the public. Recommended for public libraries and Reagan-era specialists. Recommended for public and academic libraries.Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twshp., Lib., King of Prussia, PA
Kirkus Reviews
From the Strobers (Nixon, 1994; Let Us Begin Anew, 1993), the third in a series of oral histories of modern American presidencies, consisting of a savory stew of narratives and musings on Ronald Reagan's momentous administration, by insiders, foreign leaders, and other observers. After briefly recapitulating Reagan's pre-presidential career as a movie actor, union activist, Republican spokesman, and California governor, the authors let their interlocutors examine both controversial and mundane aspects of his two terms in office. The authors have weighted their account with the thoughts of administration insiders and allies; these include William Clark, Lyn Nofziger, Michael Deaver, Ed Meese, Caspar Weinberger, and foreign admirers like Margaret Thatcher. However, some Reagan adversaries, like special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, gay activist Larry Kramer, and Sandinista Miguel D'Escoto, get to contribute their views, as well. The Strobers explore in detail issues like the air traffic controllers' strike, the administration's combative response to world terrorism, its tepid response to the AIDS crisis, and its reaction to the Jonathan Pollard spying affair, while the authors devote an entire chapter to the Iran-Contra scandal, which emerges as a product of Reaganite management at its hubristic and disengaged worst. By contrast, what many would regard as the president's greatest foreign policy achievement—his triumphant management of America's Soviet policy during the collapse of Communism in the former Soviet Union and Eastern blocþreceives a relatively brief treatment. While the commentators offer some insight into Reagan's management style and personality, little seemscontroversial: Both administration insiders and foreign allies repeatedly emphasize his sunny, straightforward personality, his consistent, unsubtle conservatism, and his legacy as a "great communicator" of traditional moral values and conservative ideas. Not a seminal work of scholarship, but like the Strobers' other works, a valuable contribution to the study of the modern presidency.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395771938
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 6/1/1998
  • Pages: 622
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerald S. Strober is the author of several books, including American Jews: Community in Crisis and Billy Graham: His Life and Faith

Deborah Hart Strober was for many years a journalist with the New York Jewish Week. She lives in New York City.

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