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RONALD REAGAN by Dinesh D’Souza

RONALD REAGAN

Spirit of a Leader

By Dinesh D’Souza

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-84428-1
Publisher: Free Press

 D'Souza (Illiberal Education, 1991, etc.) breaks with most Reagan administration alumni by idolizing the former president rather than writing a critical kiss-and-tell memoir. Crediting Reagan with doing ``more than any single man in the second half of the twentieth century to shape the world we live in,'' D'Souza presents a straightforward theme: Despite some personal flaws, Reagan was an outstanding statesman and leader. His method is familiar, though less straightforward. By playing off the usual foils--liberals and Democrats, of course, but especially ``pundits'' and ``intellectuals''--he portrays Reagan's career as a series of triumphs over his critics. A master of this style, D'Souza carefully selects quotations that cast aspersions on Reagan and his policies, then demonstrates that time after time the political wise men were wrong and Reagan was right. Focusing on partisan and ideological disputes allows him to avoid potentially embarrassing policy decisions such as the sending of marines to Lebanon, and there are continuing opportunities to disparage favored targets. There is also an odd tendency to document the comments of critics more thoroughly than Reagan's thoughts and intentions. Getting inside Reagan's head undoubtedly poses difficulties, but this is what D'Souza's arguments apparently require. In situations where some observers found Reagan inattentive and obtuse, for example, D'Souza sees ``the guise of being distracted,'' a subtle strategy for managing people. Whether Reagan was being sly or was really asleep would seem to be an important issue, but sorting out such details is not what this effort is all about. Political posturing aside, this is a glib volume that will warm the hearts of those who harbor a nostalgia for the Reagan era. (Author tour; radio satellite tour)