Tendentious and extremely partisan account of how the 40th president, disguised as a mild-mannered former actor, fought a never-ending battle for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.
In a volume that reads as if it were written by an author genetically engineered with DNA from Tom Clancy, George Will, Nancy Reagan, Rush Limbaugh, and a dollop of Joseph McCarthy, Schweizer (Victory: The Reagan Administration’s Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union, 1994, etc.) raises hagiography to new heights. With unmatched courage and fierce determination, Saint Ronald brought the Evil Empire to its knees pretty much by himself. The author compares Reagan with Lincoln and Churchill, with unnamed cowboys (they were bold and independent too), and with various additional historical luminaries who saw what others refused to see and had the fortitude to act. Schweizer begins with Reagan’s fierce firefights with Hollywood Commies (though he opposed blacklists, of course), continues with his uneasy relationship with Nixon, and describes how the future president subtly attacked pinkos on General Electric Theater. We follow Reagan from the California governor’s mansion to the White House. And those who opposed Reagan, his military build-up, his confrontational postures with the USSR? Who favored disarmament over SDI? Commie dupes, plain and simple. Sure, many of the protesters were sincere, but they brought comfort to the enemy nonetheless. The Kennedys and Carter were Soft on Communism. So were Humphrey, McGovern, and Mondale. Oddly, Schweizer says nothing about his hero’s response to the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr. Nothing about Reagan and the Civil Rights movement (no Commie involvement there?). Nothing about Bitburg. Nothing about Reagan’s offer to “share” SDI technology with the Soviets. Nothing about Alzheimer’s. Iran-Contra gets two pages. The guilty party in that one, declares Schweizer boldly, was . . . “someone.”
This obsessive effort to fashion a faultless hero will remind readers of an earlier attempt to do the same—by Victor Frankenstein.