Above all, Ronald Reagan was a decent man. As such he compares very favourably with Clinton and several of his predecessors.
Many have tried to belittle Reagan because of his Hollywood B film background but in office he showed far more acumen than the disgraced Nixon and most of his policy advisors.He was almost alone in discerning that Gorbachev was a different kind of communist from his ghastly predecessors.
In this excellent book Mann shows us a President whose words and actions did not always match but one who had a wonderful facility to charm people.
It is easy to make fun of his belief in Nancy's astrological predictions yet his judgements about the Soviet Union frequently turned out to be correct. Indeed he was so often right that one is yet again concerned at the power held by so-called experts in our government. Very few seem capable of thinking outside of the box.
One of these experts, Henry Kissinger, proved to be wrong again and again about Gorbachev. For him and others in the state department the Cold War was viewed as almost a permanent state of affairs.It took great courage to refuse to follow this advice.
As Mann points out, no one 'owned' Regan. He was never a puppet of any right-wing group in Washington or elsewhere. His speech in which he asked Gorbachev to 'tear down this wall', and his refusal to withdraw his claim that the Soviet Union was an 'evil empire' until he was sure that the USSR was changing required political courage of a very high order.
There is little doubt that without Reagan's policies Gorbachev would have had even greater difficulty changing his country's domestic and foreign policy. Both men played a crucial role in ending the Cold War.
on 4 June 2012
I wasn't even alive when President Reagan left office, but have always had an interest in American and Cold War politics. This book clearly outlines an almost blow-by-blow account of the period, culminating in his famous Berlin Wall speech. I will be honest, and say that this book will not spark you if you have no prior interest in the topic, but if you do, it is definitely worth a read!