Brief Thoughts on “The Reagan I Knew”

ReaganIKnew

Some brief thoughts on the latest book I finished.  Since January, I have introduced myself to the fiction writings of William F. Buckley.  I have been reading and/or listening to his novels and non-fiction.  Today, I finished listening to Buckley’s The Reagan I Knew. Buckley’s prose continues to impress me, even after his death.

I recommend this book for two reasons which there could easily be more: 1. Listening to Buckley’s narrative and personal letters is so unique and truly pushes one (or at least me) to improve one’s writing skill; 2. We learn and even participate in the friendship between William F. Buckley and the Reagan Family.

One theme and one story to tantalize you: the ongoing theme throughout the letters both of Buckley and the Reagan’s is a reference to the city and movie Casablanca.  There are some of the letters that in Buckley’s writing style, I was almost scandalized in how he would make mention of running off to Casablanca with Mrs. Reagan. The letters both to and from President Reagan opens the reader/listener to him as a person in terms of politics but more so on his actual thought on policy and crises he lived or guided our country through.
William F. Buckley, Jr., Conservative Party candidate running for the office of Mayor of New York City, is shown outside the Overseas Press Club on Oct. 20, 1965.  (AP Photo)

William F. Buckley, Jr.

The one story that I will mention, which I will not be able to give it its due is Buckley’s presentation of President Reagan succumbing to Alzheimer’s.  As I was listening to letters post his presidency into the 1990’s I was waiting for the shoe to drop about President Reagan leaving public life due to his illness.  If I remember correctly, Buckley writes a letter almost in a tone of Don Quixote taking on the windmills, inviting President Reagan to attend an event sponsored by Rush Limbaugh and National Review.  The event would honor and celebrate the leadership of President Reagan.  Buckley goes into detail of the event and draws you into its planning.  In response to his letter, Nancy writes that President Reagan is no longer well enough to attend such a function.  Buckley then makes note about 9 months later, President Reagan released a letter to the American people concerning his withdrawal from public life.  Buckley takes the reader one more step into the personal situation contemplating the question, when did the President begin to have such moments? The reader almost does not want to know such intimate knowledge. Buckley gives both a personal reflection and then an anecdote from someone else who knew Reagan as long as Buckley himself concerning Reagan having a clouded moment.  I will not spoil it for you, but go and read or listen to the book, you will not be disappointed in writing style and its subject.

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