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. Brought together in one volume and edited by historian Douglas Brinkley, The Reagan Diaries provides a striking insight into one of this nation’s most important presidencies and sheds new light on the character of a true American leader.
Not since the 19th century has a United States president kept a diary through his entire White House tenure, and this volume tells us more about Ronald Reagan than many of his biographies. Besides which, not a few interpretive bits of gold are sprinkled amid the grit and gravel of diplomatic niceties, Congressional consultations and after-dinner entertainments.
Five large, leatherbound diary books — the editor Douglas Brinkley likens them to a half set of an encyclopedia — had to be boiled down by about two-thirds to yield this one volume. Except when Reagan was in the hospital, he produced an entry for each day, usually a page written in a clear hand with few portions crossed out. Brinkley, in his introduction, is broadly admiring of Reagan’s clarity and persistence.