It’s time to throw in the towel on this one. It’s been on my “currently reading” shelf for 7 months now. It’s time to move it to the “started-not-finished” shelf.
I bought this book last February, when Amazon had it on sale for just $1.99. I’d heard other conservatives reference it, as a good insight into the Reagan years and the problems President Reagan dealt with. I’d hoped it would be both entertaining and informative. It wasn’t.
At the outset, I thought the diaries were bland and mechanical but I kept pressing through. I had a moment of optimism when I read the January 18 1983 entry. Reagan said: “I think I’ve been doing wrong in these diaries for 3 yrs. I’ve made them a logbook of the days schedule & those schedules are all in the archives. I guess I should be noting other things so I’ll start now.” The entries got a little bit better but they still weren’t what I was looking for.
Mostly, I found the entries to be short on real detail and repetitive. I was looking for vivid pictures of the various world leaders and important figures that Reagan interacted with. What I got were generalities (“We got along well and I think he’ll be a true friend”). Most of the entries seemed to fit into one of several templates. For instance, while visiting a foreign nation he’d often write: “We drove the streets and the people lined the side for miles each way. We were told it was the most enthusiastic reception any American had ever been given.” On domestic politics, he’d frequently write: “Meet with House R’s. They’re for us but powerless against the D’s”. Or: “Met with Senate R’s. Sometimes I think they’re more against us than the D’s are”. Or: “Gave a speech. Calls have been coming in 10-1 in our favor”.
I learned some things while reading the book. It was especially interesting to see early mentions of people like Donald Rumsfeld, who would later have much more prominent roles in other administrations. But in the end, it felt like I was wading through a lot of uninteresting, repetitious entries to get to those nuggets. I hardly ever picked it up and read it. I finally decided that I should admit defeat and concentrate on something else.