on June 24, 2004
The moment I saw Peter Robinson on a television program touting this book, I knew I had to own it. While I was a child growing up during the Reagan administration, even then I was keenly aware of how great and enigmatic the fortieth president was. This book did give an excellent insider's view of the Reagan White House, including great stories and 'naming names' if you will. Yet Robinson also explored Reagan's weaknesses - his trouble connecting with his children as well as trusting those under him during Iran-Contra, even though his gut told him otherwise.
Bottom line - As great as Ronald Reagan was, he was still human with faults and imperfections all his own. The important lesson is not what happens when you fall - we all do - but how you respond. Reagan came back from an assassination attempt and political scandal. He had a job to do and a Cold War to win. You need only to look at the people who lined the streets and filled the rotunda during the week of remembrance to see the result.
on June 7, 2004
Peter Robinson takes a close look, a very intimate look at the things Ronald Reagan stood for and 10 of his maxims that effected a life change in Robinson and in Robinson's view, a whole nation.
His premise was that he wanted to tell his daughter about his former boss. She was nine years old when Mr. Reagan's 90th birthday rolled around and did not understand his importance to her nation and to her dad.
Robinson's book although a little unsung in the world of great books, is a tribute to a great man yet, it will also influence any who read it apply the Ten Maxims that are the subjects for each chapter.
The Ten Maxims Are in My Words:
When life gets difficult, dig in.
Do the work you are intended to do.
Life is a stage, act now.
What you say matters.
Use the brain you have been given.
Take things in stride.
Marry the right person and it will help your life.
Remember to pray daily.
Use your God given talents to influence the world around you.
You are important and can make a difference.
These maxims of life, seen through the life and actions of one of Americas greatest presidents are ours to learn, to understand and even to use.
This is a great book. I will give this as a gift to my friends.
on June 6, 2004
THE REAGAN THEORY
Why do I think Ronald Reagan was the greatest President of the 20th Century, on par with George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt? Aside from his good character, his economic triumphs and patriotism, it comes down to a theory that I came up with after hearing Margaret Thatcher say he won the Cold War "without firing a shot." First, it entails an analysis of World War II, in which some 50 to 60 million people died, yet the world says it was worth it to defeat Hitler and Japan. This leads to my theory, which is based on the unfought World War III. Say this struggle was fought between freedom, led by the U.S., and Communism, led by the U.S.S.R., between 1983 and 1989. Say that during this period, 50 to 60 million people died, and the world was caught up in an Apocalypse just as terrible as the one fought in the 1940s. Say that, through better technology, leadership, military doctrine, and with the help of God, the U.S. wins World War III. Say further that the political fallout of the war is exactly and precisecly that with which actually happened in 1989-91. I say that had it happened this way, the world would again say it was worth it, to defeat Communism. Reagan did it without firing a shot, and this is why I love him so much. Furthermore, in an ironic twist, Bill Clinton owes much of his success to Reagan. The Republicans were victims of their own success in 1992. Having defeated Communism, the Military Industrial Complex came to a standstill, causing the brief economic downturn that cost George Bush his re-election. This in turn led to the Cold War dividend in which all those smart defense techies fueled the Internet revolution. Clinton, presiding over a world made peaceful by Reagan-Bush policies, his feet held to the fire by a Republican Congress bent on maintaining Reagan's economic principles, takes credit (and some of it rightly so) for a period of huge expansion of the economy.
Author of "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman"
on April 15, 2004
Robinson's book is equal parts a memoir from his time in the White House as a young speechwriter for the Reagan administration, a core-sample biography of the 40th president, and Chicken Soup-like advice for the young professional. By juxtaposing Reagan's work habits in the White House (he was an avid reader and writer, and was very hands-on when it came to his speeches) and bringing up the formative experiences of Reagan's life, you get a portrait - not a comprehensive one, but an indicative one - of a president who was working very hard to make it look very easy. Drawing a contrast to Martin Sheen's portrayal of a fictional president on television, Robinson highlights the contrast between image and reality:
"My mistake lay in assuming that the intensity must reach a peak or climax in the person of the President. If the people who worked for him were driven and harried, it stood to reason that the President himself must be the most driven and harried of all. "The West Wing" makes the same assumption. Just look at the way Martin Sheen plays the role of chief executive. The man's anguished soul searching never lets up.
"Yet in the Reagan White House, the intensity didn't peak in the person of the President. It evaporated..."
With the enigma that still seems to surround those who search for the "real Reagan", a portrait of his life and work put in contrast to the author, an underling in the White House who was at the beginning stages of his professional career, provides a fresh comparison that helps the reader learn about Reagan's better qualities and why they should be emulated.
on January 13, 2004
I thought Peggy Noonan's book about Reagan, "When Character Was King" was the definitive book on the subject until I read this one. Peter Robinson explains why this deceptively simple man is one of our greatest presidents.
Reagan's ability to communicate with the public, hold to his conservative ideals, deal with subordinates, delegate authority and change history are explained clearly.
Most famous and powerful men do not make good family men. Reagan was no exception. Robinson allows how Reagan could have been a better father. But Reagan also had the qualities that make for greatness. He never lost sight of his ideals. He dealt with people in every station of life fairly and equally. Reagan's optimism comes through here and his dedication to hard work.
Ronald Reagan truly believed in the power of the individual. He rejuvenated conservativism when it was at its low point.
Above all President Reagan believed in America--her goodness and essential decency--two qualities that this man possessed in abundance.
Peter Robinson explains why Reagan changed his life. We can all use the same knowledge to change ours.
on December 31, 2003
The pony story, one that Reagan told often, epitomizes his unbridled optimism, even in the face of sheer adversity. Peter Robinson, speechwriter for VP Bush and later for President Reagan, recounts this story along with many other amusing and inspiring anecdotes of his Reagan years. Robinson, a lifelong Republican and the speechwriter behind the "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall" speech, delineates 10 sagacious lessons learned from his commander in chief, all of which I found applicable to my own life, in an entertaining and informative read that any conservative is sure to enjoy.
Robinson, just 25 years old when he became the VP's speechwriter, speaks candidly of the ongoing battle of the speechwriters, the unwavering true believers, versus the malleable, if not subversive, pragmatists in the administration. Of Baker, Robinson recorded in his journal in 1983, "As far as I'm concerned, the list of adjectives that applies to the pragmatist reads like the entry in Roget's Thesaurus under the heading for 'jerk.'"
Robinson tells of the amusingly pointed speech written by his buddy Josh Gilder that, for all intents and purposes, quashed the Democrats' bid for raising taxes: "'My veto pen is drawn and ready, and I have only one thing to say to the tax increasers.' Reagan paused for a full, rounded beat, his eyes alight with pleasure. 'Go ahead. Make my day.' A couple of hours later, the effort to raise taxes collapsed. Josh and I exchanged high fives." Classic Reagan. Firm, resolute, doing what's in the best interest of Americans, and, as always, sticking to his guns.
on December 27, 2003
I was sitting in a classified military briefing in Berlin in the early summer of 1987. It was announced to us, "It is expected that when President Reagan visits next month, he will make a statement asking Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall."
To our utter discredit, we only considered this a political statement, with the only real consequences perhaps reactions from some looney left-wing West Germans.
Two year later Gorbachev, his Evil Empire, the very concept of "East" and "West" Germans, and the Berlin Wall itself were on the ash-heap of history.
Pete Robinson is the man who wrote Reagan's "Tear Down This Wall" speech in 1987, showing the extent that words do have real consequences. He combines a great number of fascinating anecdotes on Reagan's style and substance, along with "Ten Lessons Ronald Reagan Taught Me", showing his transition from callow youth to mature adult.
This is a fine work of history, biography, and autobriography combined, written in highly readable prose.
on September 29, 2003
Having worked in the Reagan Administration, I found the RR conveyed in Peter Robinson's portrait to be very much like the man I remember seeing, not the silly cartoon of his detractors nor the flawless icon of many of his admirers. This, indeed, is Robinson's point: That Ronald Reagan was an ordinary man in ways with which all other ordinary folk can indentify and from whom they can draw (as Robinson himself did) valuable lessons in living. Robinson is also the first author to relate the truth -- inconvenient for many Reagan-bashers and "Reaganauts" alike -- that the President wanted both moderates and conservatives in his official family and he wanted their ideas to clash so that in the end he would get the best advice and make the best possible decision. When these decisions favored the moderates, the true-believers would scream that Reaganism had been highjacked. When the true-believers won, the moderates and their allies in the press would bewail another victory for heartless, hardcore conservatism. Robinson (a true-believer) recognized and accepted this sly wisdom on the boss's part, and he acknowledges the key role such ideological struggles played in shaping the Reagan Administration. (end)
on September 19, 2003
I have not yet read this book. But now that I have read the review published by Publishers Weekly, I certainly will. It seems that every time you publish a review of a book by a conservative author you include a review from Publishers Weekly.
And every time you publish a review of a consrvative book from Publishers Weekly it turns out to be an ignorant rant by an intellectual no nothing. Why publish such tripe?
I have read a number of reviews of this book. All of them were uniformly favorable, even laudatory.
One expects the usual lunacy from the usual left wing nuts, like the one by "dunewalker108" who thinks that only "rednecks and white trash" would read such a book.
But Publishers Weekly is supposed to be a professional journal. Why can't its writers behave in a professional manner when they review a book by a conservative author? Why do they insist on giving way to liberal hysteria and injecting their liberal venom into their reviews whenever they read something that challenges their closed intellectual world?
on September 16, 2003
How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life
One of the most engaging and enjoyable books I have ever read, Peter Robinson's third book tells how his life was impacted on a personal level by President Reagan.
Mr. Robinson has a very charming and self-effacing style, never trying to inflate his own importance, and readily admitting to the foibles of a young, and extremely lucky speechwriter landing a dream job, seemingly by accident. I cannot recall reading a book that made me smile virtually from start to finish. Especially to be admired is his honesty in recognizing his own good fortune throughout the book, wandering through history almost with a sense of wonder. Not many people who have a chance to serve in a presidential administration would admit to trying to remove the "Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall" line from the speech. (Or admit that they tried rewriting the line to read "Herr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Yikes!) Addressing his own weaknesses and failings, he shows how Reagan taught him to rise above them.
I must confess to being an admirer of our 40th President, and have read many of the books written about his life and Presidency. Peter Robinson's point of view is refreshingly different. The lessons he learned from watching Ronald Reagan really are the simple, but important, lessons of life.
Finally, this book does not pretend to be something that it's not. The author is very upfront about his admiration and love for Ronald Reagan, which, for example, makes his discussion of Reagan as a father very difficult for him, but also very necessary.
But this book really isn't just for admirers of President Reagan. If you know a kid in college, buy this book. I only wish it were around 20 years ago for me.