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The first covers a hitherto-neglected aspect of President Ronald Reagan's career. It is Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism, by Peter Schweizer (Doubleday, $26, available Oct. 15). Schweizer is an old friend and is one of the foremost historians of the Reagan era. He begins his work, appropriately, with negative comments about Reagan by such intellectual giants as Clark Clifford. Schweizer traces in great detail Reagan's struggle against the communist infiltration and domination of Hollywood in the 1940s, as well as its effect on Reagan's presidency in the 1980s.
The monumental achievement of Reagan's lonely, lifelong struggle against communism was his final victory in the Cold War. And make no mistake, it was Reagan's victory. Schweizer's summation tells all: "Those virtues that Reagan so admired--courage and character--are what the nearly half-century battle against communism required most of him. Sometimes his strong views brought physical threats against his life and family. More often, they would prompt ridicule or denunciation of him as a dangerous ignoramus. In either case, Reagan unflinchingly pressed on, opposed by old friends,cabinet officers, and sometimes even members of his own family."
As Ronald Reagan said: "We must be guided not by fear, but by courage and moral clarity." This is precisely what we most need today. We are fortunate to have in President Bush a leader who knows and follows the same beck-oning light.
Another Cold War warrior, William F. Buckley Jr., has once again turned his exceptional, indeed Renaissance-like, skills to writing a novel about a pivotal historic event. Nuremberg: The Reckoning (Harcourt, $25) brings to life the complex tale of the victorious Allies' attempts to bring to justice the surviving perpetrators of the Nazi horror. Through his great skills of storytelling and character development, Buckley blends fictional characters and actual his-tory and makes the reader feel he is a participant.
Buckley has used this device before in his books on Joseph McCarthy; James Angleton, the CIA operative; and, oddly enough, Elvis Presley. Nuremberg is Buckley's 15th novel and is one of his best. It is so masterfully written that you are compelled to go back to some of the original source material to verify that such things really hap-pened.
Lady Margaret Thatcher's two-volume memoir was a huge bestseller in Europe and here. In it she wrote of her constant struggle against the conventional wisdom, her determination to change the world and her ultimate successes. She is one of the few people whose strong presence on the stage of history has changed and improved that history. Along with President Reagan, and perhaps one or two others, Lady Thatcher should be given credit for bringing the thrall of communism to an end and for restoring capitalism, freedom and democracy.
Margaret Thatcher's newest book, Statecraft (HarperCollins, $34.95), is about the future, and should be read for what it is: the wise counsel of a supremely successful stateswoman and Britain's greatest peacetime leader. Statecraft relays how the West won the Cold War and "created the basis for today's freedom and prosperity." To give permanency to these achievements, we must remain "vigilant and strong," and Lady Thatcher details how this can and must be done. Her ideas are rightly and persuasively argued--and lead the reader to the famous Thatcher conclusion: "There is no alternative." Those who object to such polemicism should recall how often Margaret Thatcher was right and be grateful for her unambiguous and unnuanced conclusions and advice. Hers is the kind of guidance we urgently need. And the more it is followed, the better off we will all be.
Double Lives: Stories of Extraordinary Achievement, by David Heenan (Davies-Black Publishing, $24.95), tells the story of ten remarkable people who, not satisfied with their own extraordinary "day jobs," carved out second vocations equally, if not more, fulfilling. Winston Churchill is Heenan's prime example. In addition to being a statesman, Churchill was an author, painter and orator--and excelled at all. Theodore Roosevelt was likewise a great statesman, but he was also a historian and scientist. Another example: pediatrician and poet Dr. William Carlos Wil-liams.
Heenan describes the common characteristics of these doubly (and sometimes triply) endowed people as appar-ently boundless energy, firm independence and a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom. He himself exemplifies the multifaceted qualities he has found in his subjects: He is a university teacher, writer and trustee of the fabulous James Campbell Estate in Hawaii. Double Lives may make some readers envious, but it will stimulate others to do more every day.
In a volume that reads as if it were written by an author genetically engineered with DNA from Tom Clancy, George Will, Nancy Reagan, Rush Limbaugh, and a dollop of Joseph McCarthy, Schweizer (Victory: The Reagan Administration’s Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union, 1994, etc.) raises hagiography to new heights. With unmatched courage and fierce determination, Saint Ronald brought the Evil Empire to its knees pretty much by himself. The author compares Reagan with Lincoln and Churchill, with unnamed cowboys (they were bold and independent too), and with various additional historical luminaries who saw what others refused to see and had the fortitude to act. Schweizer begins with Reagan’s fierce firefights with Hollywood Commies (though he opposed blacklists, of course), continues with his uneasy relationship with Nixon, and describes how the future president subtly attacked pinkos on General Electric Theater. We follow Reagan from the California governor’s mansion to the White House. And those who opposed Reagan, his military build-up, his confrontational postures with the USSR? Who favored disarmament over SDI? Commie dupes, plain and simple. Sure, many of the protesters were sincere, but they brought comfort to the enemy nonetheless. The Kennedys and Carter were Soft on Communism. So were Humphrey, McGovern, and Mondale. Oddly, Schweizer says nothing about his hero’s response to the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr. Nothing about Reagan and the CivilRights movement (no Commie involvement there?). Nothing about Bitburg. Nothing about Reagan’s offer to "share" SDI technology with the Soviets. Nothing about Alzheimer’s. Iran-Contra gets two pages. The guilty party in that one, declares Schweizer boldly, was . . . "someone."
This obsessive effort to fashion a faultless hero will remind readers of an earlier attempt to do the same—by Victor Frankenstein.
"On the big picture, Schweizer is correct: Reagan had it right." —Newsweek
"Masterful. . . . After Schweizer, even inveterate Reagan-haters will have to abandon the picture of an amiable dunce drifting passively while a handful of advisers set the agenda." —Foreign Affairs
“A fascinating, well-written, useful and important look at one of the three or four most important American political leaders of the 20th century. No serious assessment of the 40th president of the United States can ignore the central importance of anti-communism in his career; after Schweizer, none will.” —The Washington Post Book World
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted December 15, 2013
So much information! If you want to know why Ronald Reagan will go down in history as one of the greatest US presidents, this is the book to read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 1, 2004
Reagan's War is an absolutely incredible account of how Reagan had the determination to do what is right in the face of bitter criticism. From his nearly-unilateral decision to impose sanctions against Communist Poland after it imposed martial law (and how his decision and action is credited with saving the Polish Solidarity movement which eventually caused the downfall of Communism in Eastern Europe, and eventually the Soviet Union itself), to his decision to invade Grenada and the subsequent decision of dictators backing down from their threats to the west.<BR><BR> Reagan's War captures the heart of Ronald Reagan, and how his heart felt when he saw the effects of communism. One of the best examples is given in the book when the leader of Communist Poland thought that American movies were propaganda because they showed factory workers driving to work in their own automobiles, because 'you want us poor Poles to believe that factory workers really drive to work in their own cars in the United States?'. Ronald Reagan was disgusted by Communism, and this book very accurately describes how he systematically destroyed the idea of Communism.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.