Affirming Reagan's position as one of America's greatest presidents, this is a bold and philosophical reevaluation.
Following his departure from office, Ronald Reagan was marginalized thanks to liberal biases that dominate the teaching of American history, says John Patrick Diggins. Yet Reagan, like Lincoln (who was also attacked for decades after his death), deserves to be regarded as one of our three or four greatest presidents. Reagan was far more active a president and far more sophisticated than we ever knew. His negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev and his opposition to foreign interventions demonstrate that he was not a rigid hawk. And in his pursuit of Emersonian ideals in his distrust of big government, he was the most open-minded libertarian president the country has ever had; combining a reverence for America's hallowed historical traditions with an implacable faith in the limitless opportunities of the future. This is a revealing portrait of great character, a book that reveals the fortieth president to be an exemplar of the truest conservative values.
John Patrick Diggins is the author of The Rise and Fall of the American Left and The Proud Decades: 1941-1960, in addition to biographies of John Adams and Max Weber. He is a distinguished professor of history at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He lives in New York City.