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With Reagan: The Inside Story

Author: Edwin Meese
Publisher: Regnery Publishing • 1992 • 381 pages
With Reagan: The Inside Story

Ronald Reagan’s friend, confidant, and attorney general offers a lively and absorbing apologia for his old boss and his Administration. Many remember President Reagan as an amiable but disengaged man, uninterested and uninvolved in the details of governance, and view the Reagan era as a period of unredeemed promise–noting, e.g., that despite candidate Reagan’s promises in 1980, today the federal bureaucracy is larger than ever and massive deficits threaten to paralyze the economy. Not so, says Meese.

Instead, Reagan was a strong and decisive leader, and the Reagan years were a time of great achievement. Meese attributes the economic boom of the 1980’s to the tax reform of the early Reagan years and argues that the Reagan Administration’s assertion of American authority and influence in the world resulted in positive foreign-policy developments such as the collapse of Communism and the curtailing of Libyan terrorism. Meese also defends Reagan against charges that his budgetary proposals led to the expansion of federal budget deficits (entrenched federal bureaucracies and special interests, built-in spending increases in the budget, and ideological traitors like David Stockman were the real culprits, Meese explains).

The author portrays Reagan as a decisive and intelligent leader, in contrast with the image of the President that often emerged in the press. Although readers may be skeptical of some of Meese’s assertions (e.g., in regard to the Iran-contra affair, that “”the conduct of the White House in carrying out the Iranian initiative was legal every step of the way””), Meese persuasively argues that Reagan attained many of his objectives and helped to effect pervasive changes in American domestic and foreign affairs.

Meese also offers historically valuable, and tantalizing, insights into the internal workings of the Reagan Administration and the Machiavellian world of Washington politics. A brisk and engrossing–if decidedly biased–memoir.

Book Review From Kirkus Reviews

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