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What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  514 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
On the hundredth anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth comes the twentieth-anniversary edition of Peggy Noonan’s critically acclaimed bestseller What I Saw at the Revolution, for which she provides a new Preface that demonstrates this book’s timeless relevance. As a special assistant to the president, Noonan worked with Ronald Reagan—and with Vice President George H. W. Bus ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published February 3rd 1990)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,056)
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Kressel Housman
Peggy Noonan, as I’m sure many of you know, was one of Ronald Reagan’s speechwriters. I received her memoir as a gift some 20 years ago with the inscription, “Look how far this gal from Farleigh Dickinson went!” That was sweet, sort of like saying, “If she could do it, imagine what you can become,” but I didn’t know quite what to make of it since the person who wrote that inscription was someone who’d made a career of bashing the Reagan administration. I was 19 or 20 then, and had spent my teena ...more
Jan 22, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, conservative
I have a total writer crush on Peggy Noonan. I love her writing style, and I love that she is conservative, reasonable, and not a complete ass toward those with whom she disagrees (a model many people would do well to emulate in this day and age). Noonan was a special assistant--read: main speechwriter--for President Reagan during both of his administrations. I learned an enormous amount about political speech writing: how many hands get into the pie, how much back and forth fighting goes on ove ...more
Apr 30, 2012 Bart rated it really liked it
This book, written 23 years ago, is filled with poise beyond its writer's years, even when she is score-settling, and it makes you wonder what wisdom its author will uncover in the decades to come. All these years later, we can say: quite a lot.

What I Saw at the Revolution is larger and more autobiographical than the books Noonan has often written since. It is denser in every way. It is rewarding and enjoyable and at times a touch too heavy. There are moments, as well, when a reader can feel Noo
May 03, 2014 Nooilforpacifists rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
The woman can write. And she's carrying a torch for Reagan. This book, however, was (I believe) her first, and covers her service at the end of the Reagan years and through the GHW Bush years. Just about anything memorable Bush 41 said, Peggy wrote.
Jun 03, 2013 Josh rated it liked it
Peggy Noonan is a talented speechwriter and provided grand words for several Republican Presidents (this book, from the early 90s, covers Reagan, as well as George H. W. Bush briefly). This is her story, working as a writer during the Reagan era, as she helped to feed lines to the great communicator – my remark, not hers. Noonan’s voice, as read from the page, often sounds broad, thematic, and softly patriotic. Her brilliance lies in being able to identify the big themes of the day, the helpful ...more
Blaine Welgraven
Mar 16, 2014 Blaine Welgraven rated it really liked it
In her excellent chronicle of life as Reagan's chief speechwriter, Noonan notes, "when people who can't write try to write they often can't tell they're not good. In fact, they often think they're pretty close to wonderful, and they're genuinely hurt, and often suspicious, when told otherwise."

Thankfully for the political reader interested in a well-written, entertaining, and oft-poetic narrative, Noonan decidedly provides the antithesis to her description. She is a writer bar none, and one can'
Mar 01, 2012 traci rated it really liked it
So the words "I'm going through a bit of a Peggy Noonan phase" have probably never been spoken, until now, but I'm going through a bit of a Peggy Noonan phase. Maybe it's because there are very few books written by female speechwriters about being a female speechwriter. And yes, she's a crazy loon these days, but Peggy Noonan circa 1985 is actually kind of inspiring. For one, she didn't do what she didn't want to do. The first lady asks you to write a speech, most speechwriters would be like "su ...more
Oct 16, 2014 Stacy rated it it was amazing
Though usually I don't tend to gravitate towards books describing political careers, I loved this one, and as a result have now added several more to my to-read list. Noonan describes her years as a speechwriter for President Reagan and what it was like in the White House at that time. She doesn't sugarcoat issues that came up, or even her own reactions when dealing with others who would revise, cut slash and at times mutilate the speeches she was trying to write. The writing style was unlike a ...more
Dec 18, 2015 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder if I might have read this one several years ago, and because it was such a small slice, may have lost track of having read it. Noonan admits early on her desire to work for the President, and is not bashful about her conservative outlook. I thought she had a number of nice phrases to describe her work at the White House, and I loved a line from her parting comments, "Don't fall in love with politicians, they're all a disappointment. They can't help it - they just are." The cover art fro ...more
Apr 19, 2008 Kate rated it really liked it
I found it a little hard to make it through this book, primarily because the history in the book assumes knowledge of situations such as the Iran-contra affair and people such as Don Regan. And the memoir is very much a work of the late 1980s/early 1990s; I found myself wondering throughout how Noonan's reflections had been changed by the rise of the Internet.

However, if you're a writer--and even if you're a writer who has issues with Reagan's politics--I think you will find Noonan's passages on
Jan 30, 2015 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Peggy Noonan's biggest honor, in my opinion, was to be a speech writer for President Ronald Reagan. I enjoyed everything Peggy Noonan shared in this book. I'm so glad she took the time to record her experiences. I'm a fan of Ronald Reagan. So, of course I loved reading about what it was like for her to work closely with him and with others of the Republican party.

I've started other books by Peggy Noonan and decided that this particular book written by her is my favorite.
Apr 16, 2009 Steven rated it it was amazing
I loved this book because Peggy Noonan (whom I'd never before read) is such a talented writer. (The speechwriter wrote Reagan's speech the day of the Challenger Disaster and Bush the Elder's "1,000 Points of Light" speech, among others.)

Noonan's nearly stream-of-consciousness style and her ability to convey the highest parliamentary drama in one paragraph, then offset it with some quircky observation about someone's bowtie was nicely balanced. Of course, the larger story of the Reagan revolutio
Sep 02, 2009 Raymond rated it really liked it
If one day you teach contemporary American history, put, "What I Saw at the Revolution," on a required reading list. Peggy Noonan's memoirs of her years as a speech writer for Pres. Ronald Reagan will delight students as well as give them an appreciation for the excitement and the delights which attended the Reagan presidency for all who were attracted to Ronald Reagan. Peggy Noonan is not a giddy cheerleader. She talks of her deep admiration for two men in public life, Ronald Reagan and Dan Rat ...more
Sep 29, 2015 Annie rated it liked it
It is written in a true writer's hand, which you will enjoy very much if you go in expecting this style as opposed to a utilitarian biography as so many biographies can be. I found it enlightening regarding what it was like to be a writer and in Washington DC. It went a little long toward the end offering little new themes/observations about conservatism and Reagan. All in all an interesting read from an enjoyable and unique perspective.
Jan 18, 2010 Zack rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2009
Mixed feelings. Useful from a historian's perspective for getting a feel of what the political mood inside the Reagan White House was like. Un-useful in terms of her tiresome, obsequious praise of The Gipper and her "you know what else irks me?" interludes. Maybe she spent too much time with Andy Rooney while she was working at CBS (which section was the one that I found most interesting). Also, kinda creepy: the image she paints of Reagan as this kindly old granddad figure leaning back in his c ...more
Jim Cabaj
Oct 05, 2015 Jim Cabaj rated it really liked it
Peggy Noonan gives an excellent insiders view of the Reagan Presidency. For those that are fans of President Reagan, read it and you will love it.
Petite YaYA
I read 161 pages of this book after reading Dana Perino's book (which I loved). Only reason I quit reading this one is the "inside" news of Washington politics, personalities, etc. are too much right now for my senior citizen brain to want to know.

At some point I will probably finish the book.
Nov 12, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing
One of the best books written by a political insider on life in public service. Once you leave, there is a part of you that will always miss it~other types of work don't quite compare. Noonan is a beautiful and gifted writer.
It's not my political cup of tea, but Peggy Noonan writes an engaging memoir of her experiences working as a speechwriter for the Reagan administration. I enjoyed her style and perspective, even when I didn't agree with her.

My chief problem was that every time Reagan walks into a room, she is just short of describing him as accompanied by rainbows and unicorns. At the same time, I understand that comes from being part of the "Reagan Revolution".

A unique perspective on working for a presidentia
Apr 18, 2016 Doug rated it liked it
Audio. Easy listen, interesting but just a bit dated
Helped pass the time on a car trip
Jul 03, 2015 Christina rated it it was amazing
Such an excellent writer! Loved her recounting of writing the Challlenger speech.
Aug 09, 2014 Kristel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Story read by the author, Peggy Noonan, speech writer for Ronald Reagan.
Corey Astill
Jan 13, 2016 Corey Astill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Peggy Noonan is a brilliant storyteller. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Mid- and late-career Noonan has been disappointing, if only because her standard column writing technique is to extrapolate from her own observation while assuming that a sizable number of people outside Boston and New York must agree with her.

Early Noonan, however, was refreshing and personable. That's what this book is. I recommend it to any fans of Ronald Reagan who want to learn more about the greatest president of my lifetime without committing to a weighty tome written by his verbose frie
Mar 06, 2008 MJ rated it it was amazing
This is possibly my favorite non-fiction book. Noonan's memoir of her time in the Reagan administration, and really about her life in general, is powerful, touching reading. I find myself rereading bits now and again, occasionally pulling it out for an all-night reread when I need inspiration in my daily life. The writing is astute and paints real pictures of Americana from the 60s through 1989 or so. Highly recommended, especially if you're in political life.
KIRAN Khalid
May 01, 2007 KIRAN Khalid rated it really liked it
I'm not a Republican or even a conservative like this selection may imply. This book was a gift from my first boss in TV news, the same man who hired Walter Cronkite. That's evidence of his age, not mine. The book indoctrinated me into the world of the Reagan administration which was unlike any other White House culture before or since. A fascinating read if you can get past Noonan's sycophantic descriptions of Reagan.
Ben Haymond
I'm a big fan and regular reader of Peggy's column and often consider subscribing to the Wall Street Journal just for it. I love her style and her sensibility. This book is part history, part poetry, part West Wing style White House drama (she actually was an advisor on the West Wing), and part memoir all together. For a literature fan, a political conservative and a history buff like me, this is heaven.
Douglas Graney
Jul 29, 2009 Douglas Graney rated it liked it
Interesting book from a nice lady. One disturbing aspect about Noonan's book and others about the Reagan administration is how disengaged Reagan was and all the infighting that went on during his administration.

I'll excerpt this book for my students to read as we prep for a meeting at the White House with one of Obama's speech-writers...and a former student of mine.
Paul Fidalgo
Jun 19, 2008 Paul Fidalgo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though her politics, her insane desire for social progress to reverse, and her obvious antipathy for anyone with a college degree make me want to chop off my hands and bleed to death, this is still a useful, educational, and yes, witty and well written account of the Reagan White House - most particularly in regards to the art of writing in a political fishbowl.
Dec 29, 2013 Nt rated it it was amazing
I did NOT want this book to end !

I could not put it down. It was a magic carpet ride. Would that all my books were this good !

Go, Peggy Noonan ! & may The Good Lord bless you, yes, you.
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Peggy Noonan is an author of seven books on politics, religion and culture, a weekly columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and was a Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. She is considered a political conservative.

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