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The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism [Hardcover]

Paul Kengor
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Oct. 5 2006

A groundbreaking reassessment of Ronald Reagan's life and presidency, exploring his lifelong struggle--and ultimate victory--against the tyranny of Communism

In this dramatic meditation on the life of Ronald Reagan, historian Paul Kengor presents an account of the fortieth president that has never been written--one that details Reagan's campaign against the Soviet Union, which lasted for more than forty years. Tracing Reagan's anti-Communist sentiment to his days as president of the Screen Actors Guild, Kengor illuminates how this experience first emboldened the actor to speak out against the oppression of the Soviet Union and describes Reagan's multifaceted efforts to prevent Communism from taking hold in Hollywood. Ultimately his SAG tenure paved the way for his burgeoning political career, which, from its inception, had but one purpose: the end of Communism.

Utilizing reams of recently declassified documents, Kengor assembles a striking mosaic of Reagan's words and actions that toppled the Soviet Union. From Reagan's covert support of the rebels who defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan to his secret oil collusion with Saudi Arabia that devastated the Soviet economy, Kengor reveals how Reagan's eight years in office did more to bring down the Soviet Union than any single administration in the history of the Cold War. With painstaking detail, he also explains Reagan's crucial move to escalate the arms race with the Kremlin, a decision that, though politically un-popular, proved vital to the Soviets' eventual downfall.

Revisiting many of the administration's principal characters, Kengor speaks with the individuals who helped shape foreign policy under Reagan. These testi-monies give unfettered access into the hearts and minds of those closest to Reagan, revealing how this group translated Reagan's ideas into a comprehensive strategy to destroy the Soviet Union. In addition, Kengor delves into never-before-studied Soviet documents and propaganda, uncovering how the other side perceived Reagan's advances and attempted to counter his progress with its unique brand of disinformation. Also told here is an incendiary revelation of the liberal American politician who reportedly reached out to the Soviets to derail Reagan's 1984 bid for reelection.

With unparalleled research, this fascinating book tells the story of a man who believed that it was his responsibility to save the world from Soviet oppression. It's a story that demonstrates how one American's fight ended the twentieth-century's longest war. It's a story of one man who changed history. It's the story of a crusader.


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From Publishers Weekly

In this hagiographic account, political scientist Kengor (God and Ronald Reagan) makes the familiar case (made most recently by John Lewis Gaddis in The Cold War) that Reagan played a decisive role in ending the Cold War. Reagan was troubled by communism well before he arrived at the White House. As a young man in Hollywood, he railed against the red threat, and as early as 1967, he called for the destruction of the Berlin Wall. As president, Reagan engaged in "economic warfare," invaded Grenada and proved that the Soviets couldn't win an arms race against the U.S. Though "those enslaved by the Soviet Communist state" didn't find freedom until after the Reagan administration, Dutch gets the credit. And what of other major figures who contributed to the Cold War's end? Gorbachev, of course, figures prominently, and John Paul II makes significant appearances—Kengor credits the pope with helping turn Reagan's attention to Poland. Ted Kennedy, on the other hand, emerges as a sneak and a dupe, willing to undermine U.S. foreign policy and make nice with the Russians. The book's structure is somewhat stilted—each chapter is broken up into short chunks, so it feels as though one is reading not a sweeping narrative, but an annotated time line of Reagan's presidency. While the book is workmanlike, the chronology is useful and the footnotes reveal an impressive amount of research. (Oct. 17)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for God and Ronald Reagan:“God and Ronald Reagan captures the real Ronald Reagan.” (Michael ReaganMichael Reagan)

Praise for God and Ronald Reagan:“A profound character study, and engrossing work of history…” (Peter Robinson, author of How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life)

Praise for God and Ronald Reagan:“Fascinating… This is a must-read piece of political history.” (Donald M. Goldstein, coauthor of At Dawn We Slept)

Praise for God and George W. Bush:“Excellent” (National Review)

Praise for God and George W. Bush:“A wealth of material.” (National Catholic Reporter)

“Combining great story-telling with his commitment to scholarly detail, Paul Kengor has written an important and fascinating book.” (Peter Schweizer, author of Do As I Say Not As I Do and Reagan's War)

“While many have tried, few have succeeded in telling such a complete history of my dad’s greatest triumph.” (Michael Reagan)

“Paul Kengor’s latest book illuminates a side of the man evident only to those closest to him.” (Bill Clark, National Security Advisor 1982-1983)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book about a great president April 7 2011
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
A few years back, I was having an argument with a (rather liberal) friend of mine about the collapse of European communism. We are both from Europe, but we grew up on different sides of the East-West divide. His was what I came to understand the conventional view of people on the left: the communism collapsed due to its internal contradictions, because it was not the "real" communism, and a string of similar sorts of nonsense. As with many other issues that we argued about, I could not have disagreed more. Indeed, communism had enough of the internal problems that its eventual demise was inevitable, however left to its own devices, the eventual collapse would surely taken many more years, or even decades if not longer to unravel, with incalculable cost in human misery that would have engendered. Those of us who have had the luck to avoid that misery are grateful for all the external pressures exercised on that political system that hastened its demise, in particular the pressure that United States has exercised during all those decades of the Cold War, culminating with the final strong push by president Ronald Reagan and his administration. This book is a valuable record of what motivated Reagan to see the communism for what it really was - an evil system bent on repressing its own citizens. The book documents Reagan's anti-communist stand from his earliest political days, all the way through his years in the office. It gives an invaluable event-by-event chronology of all the systematic and relentless effort that Reagan put into dismantling the communist influence everywhere in the world that culminated in the final collapse of the Soviet Union and its many Eastern European satellite-states. Read more ›
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