The Book on Reagan

by John J. Miller on August 5, 2010

in Blog Posts

  • Sumo

Part of my YAF speech focused on books about Ronald Reagan. I recommended Lou Cannon’s biography as well as The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister by John O’Sullivan. Then I said this:

Yet in some ways, the very best book on Reagan–the one that provides the greatest insights into his ideas and success–is one that he wrote himself. It’s called Reagan in His Own Hand and it’s a collection of short speeches and radio addresses he gave in the years before he became president. …

The book Reagan in His Own Hand is one part of the reason why. It shows how Reagan thought about the issues of the day, mostly in the late 1970s. He would study a problem, think it through, and then respond to it, often in the form of a short radio address. He wrote out these addresses in longhand, edited them, and finally delivered them. Most people didn’t even know that these documents existed until the book came out, around nine years ago. What they reveal is a man in the process of self-education–Reagan was preparing himself for the presidency, in a way that contributed to his special success.

The fundamental lesson of Reagan is a fairly simple one. He succeeded because he self-educated and then applied conservative principles to the problems of his day.

C-SPAN’s Book TV apparently recorded our panel, so eventually my remarks will have the massive audience they obviously deserve.

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