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Customer reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

on 6 May 2006
In "President Reagan: The Triumph Of Imagination", Richard Reeves provides the reader with a detailed history of the events of the Reagan Administration. Many of the key initiatives, reactions, triumphs and failures of the Administration, including the enactment of the economic recovery program, problems with Secretary of State Haig, the intervention in Lebanon, support of the contras, negotiations for the release of American hostages in Lebanon and the resulting Iran-Contra scandal, brushes with terrorists, controversies over the placement of missiles in Europe, Bitberg, and arms control and other negotiations with Gorbachev are presented in detail that I had not picked up at the time or in reading since.

The title sets out the scope of this tome. It is, first, about President Reagan. It is not a whole life biography. His pre-White House life is related only in terms of explaining the source of the world view which focused Reagan's vision during his presidential years.

The theme of the book is hinted at in the subtitle "Triumph of Imagination." Throughout the book, Richard Reeves uses the concept of Imagination to describe Reagan's apparent disconnect from reality. Throughout the book Reeves implies, without actually saying, that Reagan was showing signs of Alzheimer's while serving as president. The Reagan detractor will find much "Imagination" to enjoy in the characterization of Reagan as a declining old man who imagined a world that never really existed and accomplishments that were never really achieved. These very characterizations Reaganites will find irritating. Some of these irritating observations are noted by other historians, such as Dinesh D'Souza in " Ronald Reagan: How An Ordinary Man Became An Extraordinary Leader" (see my Amazon.com review) The Reaganite, however will find much "Triumph" to appreciate. While Reagan may have deluded himself when his imagined world did not correspond perfectly with reality, he also imagined things that never were and made them happen. That is the "Triumph" in the "Triumph of Imaginations" and that, not even Richard Reeves, would dare take away from Ronald Reagan.
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on 24 January 2009
Having read more than 20 biographies of various American presidents I'm afraid I have to rank this one as one of the 2 least interesting. With an overly linear timeline and lack of interesting perspectives to the related topics, Reeves' book never takes of. It seems that the one great 'all-in-one' Reagan biography has yet to be written.
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