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Reagan Diaries Volume 1: January 1981-October 1985

Reagan Diaries Volume 1: January 1981-October 1985

4.2 61
by Ronald Reagan

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Volume One of the daily diaries of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.


Volume One of the daily diaries of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

Editorial Reviews

Kevin Phillips
Not since the 19th century has a United States president kept a diary through his entire White House tenure, and this volume tells us more about Ronald Reagan than many of his biographies. Besides which, not a few interpretive bits of gold are sprinkled amid the grit and gravel of diplomatic niceties, Congressional consultations and after-dinner entertainments.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

The diaries our 40th president kept while in office—edited and abridged by historian Brinkley (The Great Deluge)—are largely a straightforward political chronicle. Reagan describes meetings with heads of state and anti-abortion leaders, reflects on legislative strategy and worries about leaks to the press. He often used his diary to vigorously defend his polices: for example, after a 1984 visit with South African archbishop Desmond Tutu (whom Reagan calls "naïve"), the president explained why his approach to apartheid—"quiet diplomacy"—was preferable to sanctions. Reagan sometimes seems uncomfortable with dissent, as when he is irked by a high school student who presents a petition advocating a nuclear freeze. And he often sees the media as a "lynch mob," trying to drum up scandal where there is none. Reagan's geniality shines through in his more quotidian comments: he muses regularly about how much he appreciates Nancy, and his complaints about hating Monday mornings make him seem quite like everyone else. Brinkley doesn't weigh down the text with extensive annotation; this makes for smooth reading, but those who don't remember the major political events of the 1980s will want to refer to the glossary of names. Reagan's diaries are revealing, and Brinkley has done historians and the broad public a great service by editing them for publication. (May 22)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Foreign Affairs

"D----n those inhuman monsters," runs Ronald Reagan's diary entry for May 17, 1981. He was referring to the Soviet authorities who were keeping Natan Sharansky in the gulag despite Reagan's personal and private appeal to Leonid Brezhnev. These diaries will complete the reevaluation of Reagan by the historical profession. Whatever one thinks of his policies, Reagan emerges here as a focused, take-charge president in full control of his cabinet and administration. He was extremely selective in regard to which issues he took up and willing to let many lower-priority matters slide, but on the things that he cared about, he was forceful and persistent. These are diary entries and lack the intellectual heft and stylistic polish of some of the earlier Reagan writings to reach the public. But they show a president stamping his personality and his views on an administration and contribute to a richer vision of the most influential U.S. president since Franklin Roosevelt. One can only wish that Roosevelt had also kept a diary.<

Library Journal
Now you can read the diary Reagan kept daily over his two terms as President. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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Read an Excerpt

The Reagan Diaries

By Ronald Reagan


Copyright © 2007 Ronald Reagan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-087600-5

Chapter One



The Inaugural (Jan. 20) was an emotional experience but then the very next day it was "down to work." The first few days were long and hard-daily Cabinet meetings interspersed with sessions with Congressional leaders regarding our ec. plan.

Monday, January 26

A meeting on terrorism with heads of F.B.I.-S.S.-C.I.A. Sec's of St., Defense & others. Have ordered they be given back their ability to function. Next a Cabinet meeting on the deal with Iran. We just may not implement some of the Carter executive orders on grounds they violate our own laws. Hostages will arrive in country tomorrow. It seems some of them had some tough questions for Carter in Germany as to why they were there so long and why they were there to begin with. Rest of day meeting committee chairmen & Sens. on raising the debt ceiling.

Tuesday, January 27

Ceremony on S. Lawn to welcome hostages home. Thousands of people in attendance. Met the familys earlier. Now we had in addition the familys of the 8 men who lost their lives in the rescue attempt. One couple lost their only son. His widow was also here. I've had a lump in my throat all day.-Evening 1st white tie reception for the diplomatic corps.

Wednesday, January 28

Visit by P.M. Seaga of Jamaica, his wife & members of his admin. Our 1st state luncheon. He won a terrific election victory over a Cuban backed pro-communist. I think we can help him & gradually take back the Caribbean which was becoming a "Red" lake.

Thursday, January 29

Nancy had a great triumph with committee which rides herd on White House (to preserve its history). They were enthusiastic about what she has already done to upgrade the 2nd & 3rd floors.

[Received cable from Mike Mansfield, U.S. ambassador to Japan.]

Friday, January 30

More meeting with Cong. leaders on trying to get debt ceiling lifted. If don't we'll be out of money by Feb. 18. Cong. recessing from 5th to 12th. Must get passage of bill by Fri. the 5th.

Short day in office-left for 1st weekend in Camp David. It was great to be in a house with the knowledge you could just open a door and take a walk outdoors if you wanted.

Saturday, January 31

Had a before lunch walk (it was cold). Spent afternoon in front of fire reading intelligence reports & Briefing papers for visit by Pres. Chun (Korea). We have definite evidence Nicaragua transferring hundreds of tons of arms from Cuba to El Salvador. P.M. ran a movie-"Tribute"-Jack Lemmon. He is truly a great performer.

[Sunday, February 1: took walk; returned to W.H.]

Monday, February 2

What's getting to be routine-full day in Oval office.

Tuesday, February 3

The arrival of Pres. Chun, his wife & staff. These meetings through an interpreter which can become a strain. Good meetings though-assured him we would not withdraw our troops from Korea

Wednesday, February 4

Cabinet discussion of grain embargo. I've always felt it hurt our farmers worse than it hurt Soviets. Many of our allies?? filled the gap & supplied Soviet. But now-how do we lift it without sending wrong message to Soviets? We need to take a new look at whole matter of strategy. Trade was supposed to make Soviets moderate, instead it has allowed them to build armaments instead of consumer products. Their socialism is an ec. failure. Wouldn't we be doing more for their people if we let their system fail instead of constantly bailing it out?

[Compliment from Weinberger on cabinet meeting.]

Thursday, February 5

[President's prayer breakfast; meetings with Boy Scouts and high school students.]

Lots of phone calls-Sen. Robt. Byrd (D) is playing games with bill to raise debt ceiling. Has held vote over til tomorrow.

Friday, February 6

My birthday. Nancy, Tip O'Neil, Paul Laxalt, Tom Evans & Cong. Wright from Texas surprised me (all duly recorded by Cap. Press Corps) with a beautiful cake. Tip gave me a tie & the flag which flew over the Cap. on Jan. 20. We wheeled the cake into another room where it was cut up by about 200 of our staff. That afternoon received a great present-our own Sens. who had held out on debt. ceiling turned around and we carried the day.

[Surprise birthday party with California friends.]

P.S. During day discovered my Ambas. appts. were processed by State Dept. They take forever. I want Bill Wilson cleared by them before 26th so he can meet Pope (he's to be Ambas. to Vatican) in Alaska. Told Penn James to tell the guy at State that was advising him to get off his A- & do it.

[Saturday, February 7: photo sessions and dinner party.]

Sunday, February 8

Thank you letters for gifts we found on 2nd floor Fri. night. It took entire Sat. morning to open. Just had a call from Al Haig. I had asked that we quietly have Swiss [...] tell Iranians if they did not free Mrs. Dryer (Am. woman they had charged with being a spy & imprisoned) we might find it difficult to implement the terms of the Carter hostage agreement. Mrs. Dryer is coming home. She was turned over to the Swiss. Word [...] is that last 2 weeks of hostage negotiations were completely dominated by Iranian fear they'd have to negotiate with our admin. I couldn't be happier.

Monday, February 9

Started the day learning Mrs. Dryer did not leave Iran-some snafu with paper work. Hopefully tomorrow.

[Meetings on timing of tax cuts, and with groups of state legislators; signed citation for Vietnam veterans.]

Tuesday, February 10

This was a day. I was wired for sound. David Brinkley is doing "a day in my life" for TV showing Fri. His cameras catch me in every meeting etc. and I turn on the sound for those things suitable & turn it off for balance of meetings. Began with Brkfst....


Excerpted from The Reagan Diaries by Ronald Reagan Copyright © 2007 by Ronald Reagan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States.

Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University, the CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Audubon. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him “America’s new past master.” His recent Cronkite won the Sperber Prize for Best Book in Journalism and was a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year. The Great Deluge won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He is a member of the Society of American Historians and the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three children.

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The Reagan Diaries 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 61 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is not about conservatives¿ verses liberals, it¿s a piece of history that I¿m really enjoying. It¿s interesting to get a first hand look into his days in the White House, as well as read and understand his thought process. This is truly a great book that I think anyone who loves history will enjoy.
otter501 More than 1 year ago
Few presidents have chronicaled their days in office, perhaps the greatest living president in our memory has. He's Ronald Reagan. I'm 44 pages into a book of 803 pages. This book is incredible, giving us an insightful view of what it means to hold and preserve the greatest office in the world. One of things you find unique in this day and time. Is RR dealt with the very same issues our current president is dealing with. The exception is RR didn't wait for polling to see what needed to be done. He just did it!!! IN this book you see RR as a human being, not really concerned how history would view him, he already knew. I'm convinced this man woke up every morning thinking how can I make the lives of Americans better. He was concerned about AMERICANS first. The lives of the other people in the world were secondary...this seems to be contarary to our current leaders. This is not a book you read at one sitting. Settle into a few pages at a time, you will find yourself falling into a presidency that you will wish we had now. If we are going to add an additional face to Mt Rushmore, lets hope and pray it will be Ronald Reagan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm in the process of reading the Reagan Diaries and find it to be my favorite of many Reagan books. Why? Because I see history through the eyes of the man who changed history as it happens. Reagan's wit shows through as well as his compassion for others. This book shows that Reagan was truly in control of the administration's direction and not sleeping as liberal detractors would have you believe. A great read for those who enjoy history and those who believe that Ronald Reagan was one of our greatest Presidents
Patriotic-one More than 1 year ago
Great for picking up and reading just about anywhere in the book. Fascinating historical detail and a deep look into the wonderful personality of one of our best presidents!
Mister_X More than 1 year ago
The first two or three years of the biography was very matter of fact. It was like I was reading an appointment book or an daily agenda of a business executive. Then to my surprise, on page 213, President Reagan also realizes this, and comments the diary was appearing like a log book, and that he should comment more on the particulars, and provide more insight. The second term of the President, is the most interesting part of the book. I wish Mr. Brinkley would have expanded the glossary. I kept having to go to my computer to "goggle" many names. Overall, President Reagan kept a fascinating account of his presidency.
1949WI More than 1 year ago
I have never been interested in politicians but this book is awsome. It gives you a very good insight what the President goes through every day. Of course Reagan is the best. Had bought the hard cover but decided I wanted it on the Nook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The whole insite of this book is to show America what the preaidents daily rutene is. This book is a great and a must get.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most fascinating books I have read in years. Through his writings President Reagan always you into his inner most hopes, dreams and fears. There are two things that really stand out in this book. One is that Reagan had a keen intellect. His reputation for average intelligence is laid to rest with this book. Second was his love for Nancy. The most emotional passages in his diary speak of his love for her. I highly recommend this book!
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This book is amazing. It is amazing because it describes a day in life for Ronald Regan as president.
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oscarnotwilde More than 1 year ago
Reagan&rsquo;s voice shines through every page of this autobiography. What I appreciated most was the humble presentation of his endeavors. He never boasts of his successes but tempers each story with its failings. I was real surprised to read this. 
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Awesum book
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