In This Review

Reagan in His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan That Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America
Reagan in His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan That Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America
Edited by Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson, and Martin An
Free Press, 2001, 549 pp.

From the late 1940s onward, Ronald Reagan was constantly thinking and writing about public ideas. Overcoming his weak formal education by listening and reading (widely, if not well), he worked out his convictions about America and its place in the world and began looking for ways to explain what he had learned -- whether in his first memoir, written even before he became governor of California, or in countless speeches. Scrupulously edited and presented, this book assembles and excerpts scores of his handwritten works, mostly from radio commentaries Reagan wrote in the late 1970s. The collection recovers the most powerful elements of Reagan and Reaganism, such as the depth and clarity of Reagan's principles and his fundamental optimism. Readers can see how, week after week, Reagan filtered and reacted to what he was hearing and reading. To some, his vision will seem too fixed, suiting his carefully constructed preconceptions. Yet Reagan does seem in these writings to have a knack for identifying some essential qualities of the world he observed -- both his country's best traits and the hollowness at the core of its communist rivals.