Historian Golway (Washington's General) provides incisive print commentary on 29 classic speeches by Ronald Reagan, ranging from a 1964 television address endorsing Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater to speeches associated with his governorship of California, his presidential campaigns and, of course, his two terms in the White House. On the accompanying CD, one can hear Reagan's own voice uttering such classic lines as "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" and "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Reagan's words are not, however, included in the text of the book. While Golway's commentaries do a good job of setting the remarks of the "great communicator" in context, the experience of moving from commentary to audio and back again is not always seamless. The judiciously chosen speeches include "greatest hits," like Reagan's October 1980 debate with Jimmy Carter, Reagan's two inaugural addresses, his remarks concerning the air controllers' strike of 1981 and his 1987 address to the nation on the Supreme Court nomination of conservative Robert Bork. B&w photos. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Ronald Reagan's America presents the history of the Reagan years told through his memorable speeches during the defining events of the era.
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The President arrived in West Berlin on the morning of June 12. He was scheduled to speak outdoors, as Kennedy did, near the Brandenburg Gate, which was on the East Berlin side of the wall. Before his speech, Reagan met with West German officials in a building that towered over the wall, allowing the President a glimpse into the Soviet-controlled portion of the city. Kennedy, too, had caught a glimpse of life on the other side during his visit: he saw women waving to him, and an aide told him that they risked being shot for their gesture of friendship. He was enraged when he mounted a platform to give what became one of his most-famous speeches.
Reagan, in his glimpse of East Berlin, saw police moving citizens away from the wall so that they couldn't hear his speech over loudspeakers. Like Kennedy, he became angry, and brought that anger with him to the podium when it was time to speak.
The crowd ate up Reagan's tribute, his own humor, and even his attempts at German. They were prepared now for the heart of Reagan's speech: His own angry confrontation with the wall and all that it represented.
Reagan's voice was passionate, as Kennedy's was a quarter-century earlier. He remembered the sight of well-armed police ushering East Berliners away from the wall, away from the loudspeakers that would carry his words beyond the city's dividing line. "There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace," Reagan said. "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate!
"Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate.
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
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