No two people were more important to American conservatism in the postwar era than William F. Buckley Jr. and Ronald Reagan. Buckley’s writings provided the intellectual underpinnings, while Reagan brought the conservative movement into the White House.
They met in 1961 when Reagan introduced a speech by Buckley. When nobody could turn on the microphone, Reagan climbed out a window, walked along a ledge to the locked control room, broke in, and flipped the correct switch. Buckley later described this moment as a nifty allegory of Reagan’s approach to foreign policy: the calm appraisal of a situation, the willingness to take risks, and then the decisive moment leading to lights and sound.”
For over thirty years, the two men shared jokes and vacations, advised each other on politics, and counseled each other’s children. The Reagan I Knew traces the evolution of an extraordinary friendship between two American political giants.
Buckley worked on this book-commemorating his 30-relationship with Ronald Reagan-up to his final days. He struggles to paint a picture of a more private Reagan, but the book sheds little fresh insight; instead, it is a scattershot compilation of Buckley's reminiscences and reprinted correspondence between the author and Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Malcolm Hillgartner performs a good balancing act, shifting from the essays to the letters with subtle changes that clearly indicate whose letter is being read. His most impressive feat is creating a clear yet subdued voice within the reading to indicate when footnotes or asides for clarification are being made. A Basic Books hardcover. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved