Planning Reagan's War: Conservative Strategists and America's Cold War Victory
by Francis H. Marlo (Potomac Books: 2012)
A must read for any serious student of the Reagan administration!
Dr. Marlo's first book is an important contribution to scholarship on the Reagan administration for two very important reasons. First, his use of the holdings of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, in particular the files of the National Security Council, led him to conclude that President Reagan personally developed a "Grand Strategy" to defeat the Soviet Union. Based on these NSC documents, Marlo identifies five parts to Reagan's strategy: (1) rejection of containment and detente; (2) importance of communist ideology; (3) centrality of superior power in dealing with the Soviet threat; (4) the importance of Soviet weakness; and (5) the superiority of democracy and capitalism. Although historians and journalists writing about the Reagan administration have come to many of these same conclusions, Marlo is one of the first to have based these conclusions on the holdings of the Reagan Library, thus verifying what many have argued before anyone had access to the holdings of the Reagan Library.
Second, Marlo brings to his study his background in strategic studies as well as his graduate training at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. His background gives him the tools to successfully blend the fields of history, political science and strategic studies. The result is an analytical narrative that helps to explain not only the foriegn policy of the Reagan administration, but every administration since Reagan left office.
President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination
by Richard Reeves (Simon & Schuster: 2005)
Highly recommended: a stellar narrative of the Reagan administration by one of America's finest journalists!
President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination is one of my favorite books on the Reagan administration. Reeves is a master storyteller and his style lets the reader feel what it is like to be inside the White House during the Reagan administration. Full disclosure: I worked as a research assistant for Richard Reeves while he was writing this book. He hired me to help him sort through the millions of pages of material on the Reagan administration held at the Reagan Library. I can thus tell you from personal experience that his book is probably still (as of 2012) the most important Reagan biography to blend both the holdings of the Reagan Library with the authors unique insights from his days as Washington D.C. bureau chief for the New York Times.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in a readable narrative of the Reagan Years.
President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime
by Lou Cannon (Simon & Schuster: 1991)
Cannon, a former Washington Post reporter, has written more about Ronald Reagan than any other writer. “The Role of a Lifetime” represents his account of the Reagan administration. As one of the first major accounts of the Reagan administration (published just two years after Reagan left office), the book was a landmark at the time of publication as it represented the most extensive account of the inner-workings of the Reagan Administration. The book still stands as an important study of the Reagan administration, but given its age should be read with more recent accounts, like my book The Reagan Files (2010) which makes use of documents that were not available to Cannon at the time President Reaganwas published. Highly recommended.
The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of The Cold War Arms Race and its Dangerous Legacy
by David E. Hoffman (Doubleday: 2009)
This Pulitzer-prize winning account of the end of the Cold War is essential reading for anyone looking to understand the importance of present day arms control negotiations. Hoffman, a former Washington Post reporter who covered the demise of the Soviet Union, also sheds new light on the inner-workings of the former Soviet Union and the decay that brought the U.S. and Soviet Union dangerously close to nuclear war. Perhaps his most significant, and chilling contribution, is his account of the post Cold War period in which President Clinton was forced to make tough decisions about how best to prevent the former Soviet republics from selling their biological, chemical and nuclear weapons materials to the highest bidder. Highly recommended!
The following books are in need of review:
(Have you read a book about the Reagan Administration that you would like to review? The Reagan Files is looking for volunteer contributors who would like to submit reviews of books on the Reagan Administration. Please email@example.com with the name of the book you would like to review and why you are interested in being a contributor to www.thereaganfiles.com.)
Reagan and Thatcher: The Difficult Relationship
by Richard Aldous (W.W. Norton: 2012)
Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America
by Joseph McCartin (Oxford University Press: 2011)
Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan
by Del Quentin Wilber (Henry Holt: 2011)
Reagan on War: A Reappraisal of the Weinberger Doctrine, 1980-1984
by Gail E. S. Yoshitani (Texas A&M Press: 2011)