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Reagan Diaries, The
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During his two terms as the fortieth president of the United States, Ronald Reagan kept a daily diary in which he recorded, by hand, his innermost thoughts and observations on the extraordinary, the historic, and the routine day-to-day occurrences of his presidency. Now, nearly two decades after he left office, this remarkable record -- the only daily presidential diary in American history -- is available for the first time.

Brought together in one volume and edited by historian Douglas Brinkley, The Reagan Diaries provides a striking insight into one of this nation's most important presidencies and sheds new light on the character of a true American leader. Whether he was in his White House residence study or aboard Air Force One, each night Reagan wrote about the events of his day, which often included his relationships with other world leaders Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II, Mohammar al-Qaddafi, and Margaret Thatcher, among others, and the unforgettable moments that defined the era -- from his first inauguration to the end of the Cold War, the Iran hostage crisis to John Hinckley Jr.'s assassination attempt.

The Reagan Diaries reveals more than just Reagan's political experiences: many entries are concerned with the president's private thoughts and feelings -- his love and devotion for Nancy Reagan and their family, his belief in God and the power of prayer. Seldom before has the American public been given access to the unfiltered experiences and opinions of a president in his own words, from Reagan's description of near-drowning at the home of Hollywood friend Claudette Colbert to his determination to fight Fidel Castro at every turn and keep the Caribbean Sea from becoming a "Red Lake."

To read these diaries -- filled with Reagan's trademark wit, sharp intelligence, and humor -- is to gain a unique understanding of one of the most beloved occupants of the Oval Office in our nation's history."

Customer Reviews:

  • An Icon, Idol, and President
    President Reagan was the first president I was old enough to vote for, his second election to office. I think most everyone has favorable memories of the first president s/he voted for.
    The Reagan Diaries reminded me of why I voted for the man. His core values; honesty, hard work, humanism, a love of God and family, are the values this country was built on, and sadly are fading away, especially in our political machine.
    Reagan's diary is genuine. It was so facinating, and heart warming, to read how he faced each day, from the high powered NSC meetings to something as common as watching an old movie. Reading how Reagan assisted people, individual families, when they were experiencing hard times was a part of his character so few were aware of. Reagan's love of Nancy ran deep as well, and to read about his lonliness when she was away from him showed his vulnerable side. All of these little anticdotes made him human, but he was also a tough negotiator in the political/world arena. Reagan's discriptions of his handling of forgien leaders and American politicians were shrewd and occasionally humorous.

    Republican or Democrate, how can we deny the positive, nation and world changes this man helped bring about? ...more info
  • From the man himself
    What a fantastic book; written by President Reagan at the time history was being made. They say hindsight is 20 20 but it's astonishing how spot on he was with his comments, made without the benefit of looking back.
    It's very enlightening to see what his thoughts were as history was being made and even the mundane or trivial things take on greater meaning when judged by the context of the present day.
    Reagan kept pretty good notes and they're all here. In addition, there are quite a few color photos to put faces to the various people he talks about.
    If you are interested in presidential history and in his motives i highly recommend this book!...more info
  • Reagan Diaries
    This book deserves 10 stars.... My wife cried and cried. This truly shows you how much they Loved each other, what a wonderful True Life Love Story!...more info
  • Like he comes alive again...
    This was a long book with hundreds of pages, but it was a page-turner all the way. He's passed now, but he comes alive again in these first-hand daily diary entries. Events that happened more than 20 years ago flash back as though they happened yesterday. I did find less than expected emotion after the "Beirut Hilton" Marines bombing. I expected more grief. I was surprised at how closely he checked public opinion polls. He really was concerned what others thought of him, but that's understandable, considering the attacks from the rabid Left. Also, his kids (with the exception of Maureen) come accross like spoiled brats. In all, a great read. If you liked this book, and you want more, consider visting the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA....more info
  • How Great was Reagan?
    Answer: Pretty darn great! Read this diary and you'll come away with a broader picture of this president and the man he was.
    If you're at all curious about what a president does on a daily basis, this is the book for you.
    My take is that about 80% of what a president does is awful; boring meetings and politics; 20% is great fun! Dinner parties, entertainment, travel, and relaxing at Camp David....more info
  • Reagan Diaries Review
    This is an excellent book. As a disclaimer, I am a big fan of Ronald Reagan. That being said, it is amazing to see behind the everyday scenes of a working presidency. It is a fascinating mix of everyday life and the duties and decisions of the leader of the free world. Douglas Brinkley did a phenomenal job of editing the diaries from their multiple volume origins....more info
  • A penetrating glimpse at the Presidency
    Love him or loathe him, Ronald Reagan was a President who knew how to lead. His diaries reveal how hectic, pressure-packed, and demanding serving in the office of President can be, even for a popular chief executive. Reagan's willingness to make the tough decision and then let the chips fall where they may endeared him to some, while others called him reckless. Indeed, the Iran-Contra scandal is evidence that at times he wasn't as in control of his administration as he appeared to be to the public. But through it all, one gets the indelible impression that Reagan was a man who cared deeply about America and its people, and acted in what he saw as the nation's best interest. (Totally unlike the current administration) He also makes it clear that he enjoyed his years in the White House, fully realizing that he'd be only a temporary occupant. But he was only truly comfortable in Washington when accompanied by Nancy. He makes frequent references to how lonely the White House felt when she was out of town.

    This is a very informal, first-person account that history buffs, Reagan fans and political junkies will find most gratifying....more info
  • Absolutely fascinating!
    For anyone who still thinks that President Reagan wasn't a brilliant, astute thinker, this book will prove them wrong. He didn't need speechwriters to tell him what to think - his intuitive instincts on people is evident in his day to day notes of meetings, correspondence and thoughts. It is a fascinating look at all the minutia that goes on behind the doors of the Oval Office and the Presidency. The difficult decisions that Reagan faced are outlined in his daily log - an insight into the great mind and the great man that Ronald Reagan really was....more info
  • I look inside.
    This book is a great read, cover to cover. It was really neat to see President Reagens' perspective of things. How he looked at the media and different events. My respect for him as a President and person continued to grow as I listened to this book....more info
  • The overwhelming responsibilities of a Presidency
    I admit a heartfelt bias in favor of Ronald Reagan and his politics. Maybe that even started with his movies where he almost always portrayed a likeable good guy, somebody you'd like to know. But to me the Reagan diaries opened my eyes to something I hadn't given much thought--the dimension of the incredible job that is that of the President of the United States.

    The Reagan Diaries are a wearing read as a book. We all know how it comes out before we start it. We've all already shared the events it reports in our morning newspaper or the evening TV news roundup I'm sure that there were other people who could have written more scintillating diaries than this straight ahead recounting of one day after another that goes on for years. Maybe Marilyn Monroe. Maybe Sir Edmund Hillary or John Dillinger. But I've never read anything that offered as much insight into the real, sometimes massively mundane, and always incredibly consuming number of tasks faced by a President. In executing them Reagan is clearly seen as totally committed to duty, not only to the great challenges, but to human needs he saw as equally important. And that's not because he proclaims their importance, but simply because he lives it with his deeds. You see it in his love for his wife and his constant mentions of missing her when she is not there. You can see it in his choken and teary sounding descriptions of spending time with poster children or advocates for a wide number of humanitarian causes. What kind of cowboy hero would put something like that on paper? Another kind of man would have made sure that his feelings were evident when the cameras were turned his way.

    Reagan writes in a way that is for the most part totally un-selfconscious, as though he expected no one to read or care about what he jotted in his journal. In some places, the editor, Douglas Brinkley, notes omissions or adds summaries where journal entries contained security-sensitive information, or irrelevancies. I suspect that some of the latter included stuff that Reagan wrote that was just plain boring or trivial. Just like we do in those gosh-awful holiday newsletters we write. But I suspect that much of that too was essential Reagan.

    The book encompasses not only an era of momentous events in American history, it is a portrait of what is good in Americans. It made me admire the office of the President and to take a wider view of those who hold it. Worthwhile for anyone serously interested in American history or politics. ...more info
  • How Cool Is It?
    How cool is it that we get to see inside a President's day to day activities. Ronald Reagan gave so much to this country and now after his death he is still allowing us to see that Presidents are human too (some are just better than others). ...more info
  • I liked the book, but
    To read it, you have to know a lot about Ronald Reagan. I did not know much, I was born in Soviet Union and at a time he was president i was just a little kid...
    So i really missed the facts of his life and explanations of the people (who is who, who is called what) and short terms used for different organizations etc. I did search wikipedia to know more and it was easier to read after that, but I really felt that i should have started with the biography of him, not diaries.
    For example, the book "Kruschev remembers", there are great comments from Strobe Talbott, that really helps understanding the book (I didn`t know too much about Kruschev either, but it was no problem thanks to the comments).
    But of course it is interesting to read the diaries of the US president, even if you know that he knew it will be published and even if i dont like the ideas and views of republicans (generally speaking)....more info
  • Interesting and vintage Reagan
    A history buff will enjoy this. And I really enjoyed the insight into (in my opinion) one of our greatest Presidents. He was really a humble man with a real lack of ego. And his diary shows he was not writing to further his legacy, but to give a realistic vision of the times he was such a important part of. What shows in his writings is a man that truly loved the United States of America and his respect for all the people of the country he loved so much. It shows his humor and determination. His wit, dignity and the honor he brought to the office of President of The United States....more info
  • I have enjoyed this book very much!!!!
    This book allows you to "see" thru Ronald Reagan's eyes for a brief moment to experience life from his viewpoint. ...more info
  • Personal Diaries of a Great American President
    There is no question that Ronald Reagan was one of the greatest presidents in American history next to Lincoln, Washington, and others. Reagan's leadership, guidance, and honest affection for humanity saw an end to Communism in Russia and a re-emergence of genuine super powerdom for America.

    Reagan was a man who stood up to evil, called what was right.... right, and what was wrong.... wrong, and in the end won big.

    Human freedom, and republicanism around the world owes a debt of gratitude to the late president- and all future leaders must take his example when tackling the challenges of the 21rst century be it Islamic terrorism, global economics, diseases and poverty, or the spread of WMDs in rouge regimes.

    Ronald Reagan made the world a much better place when he departed this Earth, and we all should take his example in our own professional and personal lives.

    ...more info
  • Long, but a great look inside the White House
    Warning, this is one long book that covers Reagans 8 years as President. With the exception of Security and author progative, this is his complete thoughts on each day, his drive, his frustrations, and times that made him happy. The day to day of the White House is pretty much just like the day to day of any leader, dealing with normal operations and the occasional incident that needs to be taken care of. I have to say that I have more respect for Ronald Reagan after reading this book and for the challenges that face our leadership....more info
  • As Wonderful as the Man
    It has been said that no man can be good and great at the same time. These diaries show that the person who said that didn't know Ronald Reagan....more info
  • An insight to one of the Greatest Americans of our time
    This book gives you insight into the thoughts of a great American during a period of recent history that was so vital to our nation and the world....more info
  • The Reagan Diaries
    Got this one for my husband. He loved it! Couldn't put it down....more info
  • Fascinating glimse behind the Presidential curtain
    Ronald Reagan in his own words. Nothing gives a better look at what one is like than a daily diary, and this one is no exception.

    You can expect a writer to favor himself, but over eight years of faithful journal-keeping, the true character appears. In this wonderful record Reagan appears variously humble, witty, frustrated, angry and always, charming.

    We see many instances where the media has reported situations innaccurately - some due to bias, but many due to lacking the information necessary, but refusing to hold the story until the facts are known.

    There are times when Reagan takes the attitude that "the buck stops here" and others where he (privately) lets us know who was responsible.

    Reagan's patriotism, determination, intelligence, love for his wife and family, and Christian values come through loud and clear, without the filter of an author's interpretation. The editing has left some of Reagan's own misspellings or grammatical errors, which serves only to make the diary more personal.

    This is a wonderful addition to any library. ...more info
    This is an amazing book. I find it truly intriguing that President Reagan took the time out of an aparent busy schedule to journal everyday, except when he was hospitalized during his assasination attempt. He was definitely the "Peoples President"....more info
  • Insights into the Presidency
    Received as a birthday gift: one of the best presents I've gotten.

    If only such a book was available from *each* president a more clear view of the toughness of the job would be evident to 'the folks.'

    Highly recommended read - I'm taking it slow....more info
  • Reagan Diaries
    Bought this as a gift - skimmed through it before wrapping. Not as witty as I thought it might be. If you want day-by-day accounts of Reagan's administration, this is the book for you....more info
  • Unfiltered history is wonderful!
    If you don't like being spoonfed only what your professors and the media want you to hear, you should read books like this. Reagan made a comment or two about each day before bed and this book puts you right into his shoes. You'll get a sense of what it's like to be the President, how human the making of history really is when it happens and the strong, determined mindset of one of the 20th century's greatest leaders.

    Wonderful....more info
  • Among the Few
    Having the opportunity to trace the day-to-day life of a president is so rare. Not many other presidents have kept such diligent logs of their time in office. As a student of politics and government I find it a rare treat to have this book available. I even find myself researching some of the topics mentioned the diaries as some of the events happened before I was born and the last 25 years of American History are still relatively glossed over in classrooms, and the textbooks I've had access to. A very interesting read....more info
  • A treasure
    This book provides insight into the eight years Reagan was in the White House and confirms what so many people thought of him over the years. It would be interesting to see more presidents who are willing to share their personal thoughts on a daily basis. I truly enjoyed this book....more info
  • just a keeper
    american history and just want this of yet i have not read it but i am sure i will...more info
  • Great Transaction!
    Highly recommend this seller. He came through as advertised with quick shipping, expert packing, and the book arrived in perfect shape. THANKS for a great deal! ...more info
  • A Look at the REAL Reagan in Reagan's Words
    Ronald Reagan's wonderful autobiography called An American Life was partly based on "The Reagan Diaries." So "The Reagan Diaries" will be familiar to those of us who already read "An American Life." I highly recommend "An American Life," because it covers Reagan's entire life from childhood in Reagan's own words.

    "The Reagan Diaries" is also great, because it gives you a rare look at the Reagan presidency. This is the real Reagan from the man himself - not what others tell you about him - and it shows Reagan to be a thoughtful, hard-working, and smart leader. Reagan was not an "amiable dunce" as his far-left critics have claimed, and Reagan was not the Godzilla warmonger neo-con that the far-right neo-cons have claimed. Reagan believed in peace - through strength.

    There are a few shocking surprises in "The Reagan Diaries." At the historic Reykjavik Summit with Gorbachev (whom Reagan affectionately calls "Gorby"), Reagan proposed that ALL nuclear weapons be abolished. Reagan and Gorbachev agreed to abolish ALL nuclear weapons. He writes about his fear of Armageddon, and for decades he personally favored abolishing all nukes if realistically possible. (You can read more about this in Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.)

    The key to abolishing nukes, Reagan naively believed, was for America to share SDI (Star Wars) with the Soviets. Reagan naively believed that a missile shield would make nukes obsolete. Reagan writes in "The Reagan Diaries" that his advisors were going to work out the details of the agreement, but then "Gorby" the next day said he insisted that SDI be eliminated. Reagan was very upset by that and the deal fell through.

    In many ways, Reagan was a visionary idealist with firm, simple convictions, and yet he was willing to be realistic and flexible with his actions when the facts were obvious - much like his idol FDR. As you read "The Reagan Diaries," you see that he had a sharp mind, a long life of experience, set convictions, and good ideas.

    Many times Reagan mentions God and his personal faith with the Almighty many times. Reagan has a simple and optimistic faith, deeply influenced by his mother's optimistic Disciples of Christ faith, although Reagan did not wear his faith on his sleeve. He had sincere, good-natured convictions and an optimistic faith in most people.

    You can tell that Reagan deeply loved his wife and they had just an incredible relationship. As you read the diaries you can feel Reagan's good spirit. He had no hatred or jealousies towards anyone. House Speaker Tip O'Neal was Reagan's political enemy, and yet Reagan liked O'Neal. They were pals after work hours.

    Ronald Reagan writes in "The Reagan Diaries" that he voted for FDR four times and was not trying to undo the New Deal. Instead, Reagan was trying to undo the excesses of 1960s-70s liberalism, such as welfare, and excessive regulations. Reagan's sensible economic reforms ended the stagflation of the 1970s while keeping the core safeguards of the New Deal. Reagan's reputation is going to grow with time.

    I highly recommend "The Reagan Diaries" for a rare look at the Reagan presidency from the man himself. Also read the essential Reagan autobiography An American Life. Also consider a standard biography of Reagan, such as the outstanding Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History by John Patrick Diggins, the classic President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon, and the recent President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination by Richard Reeves.

    Also read a good book on the Cold War, such as the masterpiece The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis, the one-dimensional but important The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, and the insightful From the Cold War to a New Era: The United States and the Soviet Union, 1983-1991 by Don Oberdorfer. At first, Reagan sustained relentless pressure against the Soviets, changing the dynamic of the Cold War, but then he embraced the reformer Gorbachev and they peacefully ended the Cold War. When a reporter asked Reagan in Moscow if USSR was still "the evil empire," Reagan replied, "No. I was talking about another time, another era." By Reagan's direction, "Gorby" received the first ever Ronald Reagan Freedom Award. Gorbachev also won the Nobel Peace Prize and was named Time Magazines Man of the Decade. But without Reagan, the Cold War would not have ended when it did with a win for U.S.A. Ronald Reagan was the right man at the right time.

    I wish more people would know about the REAL Ronald Reagan. You might be pleasantly surprised. ...more info
  • Ronald Reagan fan
    Purchase this product because of my devotion to Ronald Reagan and couldn't be more pleased. I've had it for some time and haven't finished as I read a quarter at a time. It gives me a good understanding of the times but really give an insite into the man. President Reagan was very candid about his feeling in some areas and I find it heartwarming that he laughed, cried and got upset with the rest of the nation. For those who are interested in the inner workings of the Presidency or other Reagan fans this is the book for you....more info
  • very good
    This book offers not only a deeper look at the day to day operations inside the White House, but also helps explore the inner workings of President Reagen's mind. It helps explain some of the reasons he made decisions the way he did....more info
  • A unique look
    The Reagan Diaries pulls back the curtain to provide a unique look at the thoughts and logic of one of our greatest presidents. President Reagan served at a time of tremendous change in the U.S. and globally, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Star Wars defense initiative, and sadly the demise of the Challenger space shuttle, to name a few.

    More than a memoir, the diary provides the immediate thoughts of the president, often as events are still unfolding, without the benefit of hindsight, nor the luxury of coherent and developed writing. It is this raw outpouring of thought and emotion that makes this beautiful volume so hard to put down.

    It works as both a reading and reference book, equally well....more info
  • A must read book whether Democrate or Republican
    Fantastic book could hardly put it down. Shows the true Ronald Reagan that you never get to see. Also a love story all rapped up in one book. I would advise anyone to buy this book....more info
  • The Reagan Diaries
    I'm not quite sure what to say about this book. I got the abridged version, which was quite brief, and I think it was a little too scarce. That being said, it did give me a relatively decent insight into what the man was like. Being that I was still in diapers when Reagan took office, I have no personal memories of him and this is really my first introduction to him other than what I have heard in the news or through word of mouth.

    It seems to me that the man was not unintelligent, yet there was a certain simplicity to his thinking which is exactly what endeared him to many, yet frustrated others. There were a few examples of this that were actually laugh out loud funny. When writing about the assassination attempt, he earnestly says, "getting shot hurts." Or when describing a certain economic report, he exclaims "just got the latest assessment of the economy, it's bad!" He comes across as a fundamentally decent man, though one with little tolerance for opposing viewpoints. We also learn exactly what he thought about issues like the Iran-Contra scandal, the air traffic controllers strikes, relations with Russia, Israel, etc. We also learn how important his faith, and his wife Nancy were to him. All in all, this is a decent book, but if you really want more substance you should probably go with the unabridged version....more info
  • 10 Stars Would Be More Appropriate
    What an amazing guy! It's surely a tribute to the strength of his character that what we remember from Ronald Reagan's televised appearances and radio addresses is pretty much what we see in every entry of his diaries spanning a decade.

    Consistency in principle and in behavior are attractive traits, but those traits are far, far too rare among our political class. It's truly amazing he could maintain that consistency, as well as his good humor and humility. These diaries make all of this come alive.

    Of course, no one's perfect. I got a kick out of one entry, where President Reagan misspelled the name of our 1985 Virginia gubernatorial nominee, Wyatt Durrette, which he had as "Durretti," and his editor didn't catch it...

    Still, all in all, a great and inspiring read. And not to mention, it's a fun walk down memory lane for those glorious, go-go 1980s.
    ...more info
    I give this book five stars although it is not as complete as I wish. Douglas Brinkley tries to mix Reagan's personal thoughts and life with his everyday official business. Although he did a good job I felt he left a lot out that could have added more to this edited version of the President's diary.

    Several things did stand out --

    1. I remember how the news media did a hatchet job on his Administration but publicly he usually maintained the high road by treating his media detractors with courtesy and professionalism -- almost as though he was oblivious to them. In private though, it was obvious he was aware of their animosity. But for a right wing bumpkin -- as the media treated him -- he usually was able to manipulate the media against itself. Not too shabby for an ignorant senile old man.

    2. The shapings of the major scandal of his Administration was particularly interesting as he touched on efforts to free hostages in the Middle East. Anybody looking for a smoking gun indicating his guilt of an impeachable event will be disappointed -- unless Brinkley edited that guilt out of the book.

    3. For a man who preached family values -- and was very devoted to his wife -- he had problems with his own kids. Nothing sinister but it shows that even the most powerful person in the world can feel powerless when it comes to his own family. I remembered the flak George Bush, Jr. got when his twin daughters misbehaved and thought that if we disqualified parents from public service if they could not control their own kids there would not be many parents qualified for public service.

    4. Although he was -- and unfortunately still is -- the icon of Republican conservativism, even he had difficulties keeping the conservative movement satisfied all the time. (I say "unfortunately" because the current crop of Republican candidates are too busy trying to portray themselves as the next Ronald Reagan when they should be themselves.) I do not think his successor, George Bush Sr, ever truly appreciated Reagan's hold on the party. The senior Bush may have been better educated and maybe even more intelligent but President Reagan was the heart and soul of the Republican Party. Reagan could hold the party together in ways his successor could not comprehend.

    5. Although he had enemies most of the people he dealt with in government were either friends from his own party or friends from the other party. This was still an era where he could battle Tip O'Neil or another Democratic leader at a professional and political level and then shmooze with them in private. They left their differences at the door when it came to socializing. This was true with administrations prior to Reagan's and largely true through George Bush Sr's Administration. But it has been largely cut throat the last fifteen years and both parties share the blame.

    I consider the book to be incomplete for a couple of reasons. First, in the interest of conciseness, Douglas Brinkley left a lot of stuff out and provided only a brief summary of issues the President wrote in the diary. This may have been necessary to keep the book to a readable length but sometimes I felt from the summary that there was a lot of interesting material left out and substituted with trivial.

    My more immediate concern, though, was the lack of explanation. Brinkley could have footnoted this book to death and fortunately he chose not to. But so much of the book may be incomprehensible to somebody who did not live through that era so there may be much left in that would be meaningless to a casual history buff. I felt Brinkley would have better served the reader by providing a three or four page summary at the start of each year explaining the main issues that are discussed in the diary. For example, he brushed off a casual comment in one of his Saturday radiocasts when he spoke into an open microphone declaring the Soviet Union to be illegal. I remember that to be a funny event that the media and the Reagan detractors blew out of proportion....more info