I ordered How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life by Peter Robinson the week after The Gipper passed away (along with Peggy Noonan's book, When Character Was King). My thought at the time was to read both books while the pomp and circumstance of a national funeral was still in my memory. Well, life happened and both books sat unread on bookshelf that holds "nonfiction and biographies I want to read soon".
This week I started reading the Robinson book to wrap up some of my Winter Reading Challenge. I'm not certain what I expected from the title, perhaps something more about Robinson than Reagan. What I found was an insider's view of the Reagan White House by a person who was quite young at the time, also a person who has a good way with words.
I always appreciate finding my heroes were as good a person in real life as it seemed on the outside. Reagan is my favorite president, second (a close second) only to George Washington. If I lived a thousand years, Washington would always be in first place because he is the foundation, the man who could have been King and rejected a form of royalty for a democratic way of government. That took a special kind of person.
Robinson's book not only shares the lessons he learned from Reagan's life but gives us a glimpses of Reagan's belief system and why he made the decisions which helped change the world. We are made to be a part of the discussions which took place from the perspective of a speech writer (Robinson wrote the famous "tear down these walls" speech), explaining why a speech writer has to become a student of the person for whom he writes speeches.
Reagan was a man who believed in good and evil, black and white, right and wrong...and that right wins. He was a man of faith who didn't talk a lot about it (although it appears in his writings quite a bit) but whose decisions about communism were made because he saw good in God (and communism had to fail because it was separated from God).
After reading the book, I'm going to add Witness by Whitaker Chambers to my Spring Reading Challenge. I'd planned for mostly "light" books but this one will help balance the others. It also sits on my "nonfiction and biographies I want to read soon" shelf. I skimmed it after finding a copy at a library sale, with the idea of reading it more fully someday. (It is on so many conservative lists of "best books" or "favorite books", which is why I bought it.) Witness is talked about by Robinson in such a way that it had to come off the shelf and onto the "to be read" stack.
How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life was purchased more out of curiosity than anything else but it ended up being a book I looked forward to coming back to at the end of the day. I've added it to the books about government my son is to read, not only because of the insight it gives to the world "inside the Beltway" but the wisdom it teaches from a man who lived a long life and and stood for what was right when everyone around him wanted him to be more politically correct.
I'd recommend it to those who enjoy reading about history, politics, or great people...not perfect people, there is only one Book that contains a perfect person....but people whose values we want our children to know...the "they don't make many like that anymore" kind of person, willing to face opposition instead of popularity.
Photo: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher at Camp David.