Edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Douglas G. Brinkley, “The Reagan Diaries” is a powerful record of the private reflections, convictions, frustrations and triumphs of the thirty ninth president of the United States.
Incredibly, Ronald Reagan wrote in his diary nearly every day of his momentous eight-year presidency. (Pictured above is one of the five leather-bound volumes, now housed at the Reagan library.)
Reagan couldn't help but write about his deep love for Nancy, again and again. You get the idea he felt lost and alone when he was away from Nancy. Typical is this entry: “Nancy left for Calif. at noon and I’m already lonesome.” (page 26.) And this one: “Nancy left at 10:00 A.M. for Phoenix. This has to be the loneliest place in the world when she’s gone.” (page 263.)
Reagan’s entry after his 1981 as assassination attempt was just a few paragraphs. “Getting shot hurts” (page 12) was the extent of his self-pity. He expresses his concern for the others who were shot, plus the “mixed up” shooter, John Hinckley. “I began to pray for his soul and that he would find his way back to the fold.” (page 12.)
I read the book looking for evidence of Reagan's leadership abilities, and I wasn't disappointed. Especially enjoyed seeing one aspect of Reagan’s leadership talent - his ability to accurately size people up.
Here are three examples. About Saddam Hussein, Reagan wrote, “Saddam Hussein is a ‘no good nut’ and I think he was trying to build a nuclear weapon. He has called for the destruction of Israel & he wants to be the leader of the Arab world – that’s why he invaded Iran.” (page 25.) On Billy Graham: “He’s well-informed about world situation & knowledgeable about world leaders thru personal acquaintance.” (page 31.) And about his close friend Margaret Thatcher: “Margaret Thatcher is a tower of strength and a solid friend of the U.S.” (page 32.)
"The Reagan Diaries" is a long book, but still an entertaining and fascinating read about one of the most remarkable presidencies of my lifetime. To buy this book, click the button below.