Reagan's PlanIssue: Summer 1999
Dinesh D'souza, Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader (New York: Free Press, 1997)
Beth Fischer, The Reagan Reversal: Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1997)
William Pemberton, Exit With Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1997)
The orthodox line that Ronald Reagan knew little and did less, and that his foreign policy success was the result of unusual good fortune--particularly in the form of Mikhail Gorbachev's coming to power--is losing ground. It is gradually being displaced by the revisionist thesis that Reagan was a shrewd strategist who orchestrated events, wanted victory in the Cold War, and sensed that it was possible. Still, the burden on those seeking to make the latter case is heavy, because Reagan has for so long been presented in terms of a thin, insubstantial persona, little more than a political brand name for a kind of class-B Hollywood anti-Sovietism. What is revealed by a close inspection of the record, however, is that the revisionists not only make the better case, but may even be underestimating the man.