The Reagan Diaries
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The Reagan Diaries

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  1,584 ratings  ·  187 reviews
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 Am...more
Hardcover, 784 pages
Published May 22nd 2007 by Harper
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Robert A. Smith
As you read page after page of this book, the evidence accumulates. Ronald Reagan was not a dunce. Or an empty headed actor. Or a cold-hearted politician. In fact his words and thoughts show him to be the polar opposite of the picture his critics drew. Reagan wrote these entries day after day over eight years time. And his words form an incredible body of evidence -- evidence that shows he was one of the most principled, spiritual, enlightened and yes, well-informed chief executives America's ev...more
Dan Myers
Friday, I did something I never thought I would do in my life. I bought a book about Ronald Reagan.

It was sort of an accident. I was just waiting in line at the bookstore and saw The Reagan Diaries sitting near the check out. I started flipping through it and I just couldn't put it down. The book is an edited version of the daily diaries Reagan kept while he was president. They're actually very short entries but he faithfully wrote nearly every day and you get a good sense of what was most salie...more
srdjan
Great historical document- you really come to appreciate that the job of president is essentially impossible. Every major event in the world somehow ends up on the President's desk, and everyone wants the President's time. You only get a real sense of how absurd that is after seeing the operating rhythm in such meticulous detail.

Also, the book serves as a great summary of the politics and world events of the 1980's - with Gorbachev coming across as the man who really ended the Cold War - and wi...more
Dave
Even though I am a great admirer of President Reagan, my expectations for this book was that it would be interesting, but a little bit dull. I mean, the daily diary of the chief executive of the U.S. - even though it was his responsibility to make world-changing decisions, how could a diary of eight years be a page-turner? I was pleased to find out that this book was hard to put down. All those years that many dismissed Reagan as an empty-headed actor that just read the script others wrote was p...more
Karen
I'm so happy I finally finsihed this book! It wasn't a page turner for me, but very helpful in painting a picture of the 8 years Reagan was in the White House. He was a great president, and he looks even better when compared to Obama. Reagan was a true leader.

Note: Once again, my opinion of the main stream media declines, as if it could get any lower. The principle of a free press/freedom of speech is so vital to a free nation, but it is frustrating that a large number of those in the profession...more
Bryce Rausch
I think this book deserved probably 3 stars, I would think most might give it 2.

The reason I gave it 4 was simple, it pulled me in. I found it very interesting and on several occasions found myself online trying to get more background on something discussed.

A few thoughts on the book: Lots of mention on Iran Contra, seems like presidents spend much more time with Sec of State rather than VP's, you could tell he was an actor from his love of movies, he definitely cared about his wife, paid attent...more
Erwin
mundane.
heavily edited.

it's interesting to see the summary of trivial issue and people that make their way to the presidents desk, but the truly important and interesting issues (trade policy, foreign policy, military/intelligence, and campaign strategy) are mostly edited away in this version.

correlate this with the WSJ, FT, and some other major news sources of the time and you can put together an educated guess of what was edited out for "our own good"... if only I could make the time to do tha...more
Kellie
Notables during Reagans presidency-freed Iranian hostages-Lebanese War-Russian bombing of Korean Airplane-El Salvador Civil War-Reagans son Ron was a spoiled little brat. He seemed to cause more trouble than the other Reagan kids-Grain Embargo-Reagan gets frustrated with George Will, Jack Kemp, Tip Oneil-Reagan spent alot of time writing or revising speeches-Press is just as biased and dishonest as it is today except Foxnews didn't exist-did anyone know there was a hostage situation in Oct 1983...more
Shan
My memories of Reagan are from when I was a kid. I mainly remember seeing him on TV. It wasn't until I got older and began to learn more about his presidency that I realized what a truly great man he was for how he led our nation to prosperity.

Reading his diaries enabled me to get to know Reagan the man, not just Reagan the president. Reagan was very humble. He often worried about letting down the people of America. And he loved his wife. He wrote about her often and was open about his heartache...more
Kevin Brownsey
The Reagan diaries chronicle Ronald Reagan's two terms as President of the USA. I found parts of the book intriguing, especially his personal references to Nancy, which are clearly those of a man who very much loved, admired, and relied heavily on his wife. Reagan is no intellectual therefore these diaries are sometimes not particularly well written, nor are they very profound. Notwithstanding this I love the way Reagan recounts his days in much the same way as any of us would, the difference be...more
Mike
Those 80's! We lived 'em but here is an insider's view of what was going on in the political-cultural world to which most of us were oblivious. From the Illegal Air Traffic Controllers strike that paralyzed America to the shooting of Mr. Reagan, here is the man's own words on his leadership of the free world and the end of the USSR.
Mr. Reagan writes of his frustrations and his friendships with the Democrat Leadership of the U.S. House; of his immense love for wife Nancy and his fatherly conce...more
Chris Munson
As a child of the 80’s and an evil Republican, I was simply interested in learning about President Reagan’s side of what happened during his presidency. I'd forgotten what a turbulent time the 80's were from an international perspective. Surprisingly, I’ve also learned a ton of practical lessons on leadership from this book. Want to inside of the head of a great leader? Pick up this book. Talk about a great example of “never let them see you sweat!” You can just about pick out an example of almo...more
Robert White
A long, long read ... and worth the effort for students (like me!) of leadership, politics and governance. Ronald Reagan wrote compellingly in his diary every day for the eight years of his Presidency. You get very clear insight into the man, his loves, his irritations, his thinking and his priciples. What was especially striking was his commitment to working the "other side of the aisle" to generate relationships and compromise. Like all Conservative Presidents, it's clear he didn't like the me...more
TheRose
My rating isn't so much for the book as the subject. One needs to scan this book rather than reading - 75% boring stuff. However, the 25% interesting/exciting stuff makes it all worthwhile! What an amazing, wonderful, humble, hardworking, intelligent, courageous president he was! The humility was, for me, the most moving aspect of his character. I know he wasn't perfect, but he was the last of the great statesmen - they just don't make them like him anymore. He simply did his best, and that was...more
Derick Warner
Contrary to popular opinion, this book has limited political rhetoric and really humanizes the position of President of the United States. I am a big fan of President Reagan, but this boom really proves that any president regardless of political association is still an individual doing what's best with the tools given to them. Would recommend this book to anyone interested in history, and political office.
Aaron Crofut
A difficult book to rate. I wouldn't recommend trying to read it cover to cover; I didn't. It just gets too repetitive. But on the other hand, I would absolutely recommend anyone pick it up and read through a year or so, because this diary is unique among Presidents since the automobile was invented. It gives a pretty good idea of what the President actually does on an average day. He (or maybe, someday, she) spends hardly any time on any particular issue. There's only 24 hours in a day and some...more
Joe Martin
It's time to throw in the towel on this one. It's been on my "currently reading" shelf for 7 months now. It's time to move it to the "started-not-finished" shelf.

I bought this book last February, when Amazon had it on sale for just $1.99. I'd heard other conservatives reference it, as a good insight into the Reagan years and the problems President Reagan dealt with. I'd hoped it would be both entertaining and informative. It wasn't.

At the outset, I thought the diaries were bland and mechanical b...more
Matt Lanza
Jan 27, 2014 Matt Lanza rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs, those interested in politics and the political process
Chose to read this for non-political reasons. As a child of the 80s, that era of history was glossed over in school because of how recent it occurred and just limited time. Felt like I learned a lot about what occurred in my formative years. This is not an easy read at all, as there's not necessarily a plot (other than advancement of time). It reads like a daily meeting summary often. But it's obviously very well organized and (where possible) very detailed. I came away with an appreciation for...more
Matt
Ronald Reagan was surely one of the great politicians of the latter 20th century. Love him or hate him, he defined the United States in the 1980s, sandwiched between the Carter and Bush single-administrations. While historians depict the 40th President differently, his daily diary offers a personal and in-depth picture of his thoughts throughout the eight years he occupied the White House. With the help of Brinkley’s editing, the reader is treated to a detailed narrative about the political land...more
Douglas Graney
Please don't misconstrue my two stars as a negative assessment of this book. This was not meant to be a "can't put this down" type of book. This is like reading a ship captain's log. Just the facts without much comment by Reagan. That being said there is some historical value in this. First of all it's amazing the number of meetings he had to attend day after day afer day. I hope Obama and all future presidents are not scheduled like this though I suspect he is and they will be. Also after seein...more
Jo
Reagan’s first term was the first election I could vote in; I remember I voted for Anderson. I listened to this audio book version after listening to Carter's White House Diaries, as I wanted to see Reagan’s interpretation of some of the situations that continued from the Carter years. Both this and the Carter diaries are excellent samples of the men and presidents they were. I don't generally compare books in my reviews but having done both of them so close together I can't help but do it in th...more
Jaclyn
I am not much of a history buff, but there are certain people in history that I find myself drawn to learn more about, they have a bit of mysticism to me that draws me to want to learn more about them: Lincoln, Katherine Hepburn, Reagan, Hilary Clinton, to name a few. It's not so much what they accomplished, or what they stand for, because, as I've already said, I'm not a history buff and other than the broad and well known basics, I actually don't know a lot about them, their times, or their ac...more
Bud
I’ve always been a fan of Ronald Reagan’s, and with all the major Republican Presidential candidates invoking Reagan’s legacy, I certainly picked up this book at the right time.

As one would imagine, it’s a great historical document, and I recommend the Diaries for anyone who wants to know more about Dutch’s impact on our country.

And while I’ve only gotten about ¼ of the way through the book, there are a few common themes that I suspect are common throughout.

First, Reagan was a genuine, kind,...more
Adam
A deep dive into Reagan's most personal thoughts throughout both of his terms as president. The only problem I had was it was so deep into detail of daily or bi weekly diary entries that it was difficult to connect it back to my understanding of main events of his two terms. Probably not necessary to read cover to cover unless your writing a thesis on Reagan. However, very interesting to see into his mind and soul with regards to those main accomplishments and challenges that I saw on TV as a yo...more
Nicole Perez
Ronald Reagan hated Mondays. He had no patience for people who disagreed with him. He saw things his way, yet was moved by people who respectfully (and sometimes tearfully) presented their stories. What is most repeated in this book: Ronald Reagan cared - probably too much - about how much people liked him. He noted poll numbers, calls for support, number of times he was applauded as much as he talked about Nancy's comings and goings. I expected more from this book. Instead, I got a diary that w...more
stella Lee
There were only few presidents in the U.S. who kept the daily diaries, and Ronald Reagan is one of them. Entering into his personal thoughts regarding day to day occurrences during his presidency and glimpse of his personal and public life was interesting. His writing style was short and get to the point (like mine.) I could see he loved the three things in life: his country, his wife and his God…. A man whom I can respect as a leader in this nation....
Troy Martin
While this popular release culled from the two volumes of President Reagan's diaries was engaging and an interesting window into the geopolitical world of the 80s, as well as an insight into "The Gipper's" personal life and leadership style, I got the feeling that editor Douglas Brinkley got a little too loose with his task and ended up leaving some more interesting bits on the cutting room floor. I will have to get my hands on the unabridged diaries someday to render a proper review.
Gina Giuliano
Jan 31, 2008 Gina Giuliano is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
I'm about a quarter of the way done with this book. It is totally fascinating. Something like only 5 presidents have ever kept a daily journal and the last one before Reagan was very long ago. It is going to take me quite a while to get though because it is quite long, and also since it is diary entries, it is easy to put it aside after reading a month or year's worth, and read a novel or magazine before picking it up again. I am really enjoying the blend of routine daily events with the chronol...more
Waseem
I like books on leadership and histories human who evidently have achieved great things in life, whether they be something we agree with or not, no doubt reagan would be worth studying, but my gosh this book was boring, i actually switched off after the first few chapters, maybe its beause of its 'diary' style, but i think some structure would have been helpful rather than just random quotes and narration of what his diaries said

maybe its just me, and this isn't a fiar review, but i just couldn'...more
Michele
Didn't finish it. But, I did love the man that Ronald Reagan was and is. I think God wants us to be like him, genuine and true to yourself. I found his real concern for the American people so touching. Especially the stories he heard on the news and took for his own interest and got involved in helping someone. He is the real deal. I want to try and read another book about him that is a better format for me.
I loved what a good husband he was.
It was also a real eye-opener to me to see just how...more
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Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975). Born in Illinois, Reagan moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s, where he became an actor, president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and a spokesman for General Electric. Reagan became involved in politics during his work for G.E. and switched from the Democratic Party to the...more
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