In This Review

The Reagan Diaries
The Reagan Diaries
By Douglas Brinkley (ed)
HarperCollins, 2007, 784 pp

"D----n those inhuman monsters," runs Ronald Reagan's diary entry for May 17, 1981. He was referring to the Soviet authorities who were keeping Natan Sharansky in the gulag despite Reagan's personal and private appeal to Leonid Brezhnev. These diaries will complete the reevaluation of Reagan by the historical profession. Whatever one thinks of his policies, Reagan emerges here as a focused, take-charge president in full control of his cabinet and administration. He was extremely selective in regard to which issues he took up and willing to let many lower-priority matters slide, but on the things that he cared about, he was forceful and persistent. These are diary entries and lack the intellectual heft and stylistic polish of some of the earlier Reagan writings to reach the public. But they show a president stamping his personality and his views on an administration and contribute to a richer vision of the most influential U.S. president since Franklin Roosevelt. One can only wish that Roosevelt had also kept a diary.