Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Reagan's Reign of Error: The Instant Nostalgia Edition

1987, expanded and updated version of 1983's There He Goes Again, from Pantheon Books
Mark Green and Gail MacColl
Reagan's Reign of Error: The Instant Nostalgia Edition
Original price $6.95, purchase price $3.95
Slightly worn paperback

Unlike Ducovny's Nixon book, Green and MacColl (and their contributors) don't just show how Reagan contradicted himself.  They also provide the facts that contradict Reagan's-- I'll try to be polite-- imaginative statements.  And unlike Pat Brown's 1976 book on Reagan, this book didn't anger me.  Oddly enough, I found myself feeling sorry for Reagan.  At some points, I was convinced he was mentally ill or incredibly naive.  Yes, I think Nixon was a bit crazy, but he was also wily, which you can't say about poor old Ronnie.  Unless he really was an amazing actor!  That would anger me. 

I'm not sure what the "instant nostalgia" of the subtitle refers to, unless they mean nostalgic for the time before Reagan, or at least the time before Iran-Contra made more people see through him.  (Donaldson's book was the first of the books I've read to mention the scandal, although obviously that wasn't the main focus.)  Certainly, Reagan was nostalgic, while also plagued by a notoriously bad memory.  (They quote New York Magazine's classic question, "What did Reagan forget, and when did he forget it?")  Maybe he was nostalgic for the past he imagined.  This book got me thinking more about Reagan's viewpoint than anything else I've read so far, maybe because so much of it is quotations from him.  On the other hand, I don't think I could stomach a book written by him.

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