Stories in His Own Hand: The Everyday Wisdom of Ronald...

Editor's Choice

October 28, 2001|By Michael Pakenham

Stories in His Own Hand: The Everyday Wisdom of Ronald Reagan edited by Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson (The Free Press, 123 pages, $21)

The nature of political passion leans toward dismissive hyperbole. No small number of Americans today, for example, believe that every utterance that ever came from Bill Clinton has to be assumed to have been a lie. Many others categorically dismiss Ronald Reagan as a mindless, thoughtless "actor" who mouthed scripts dictated by his handlers. This slim, modest volume of 36 stores gleaned from Reagan's handwritten drafts and other manuscripts belies that simplist's view. What emerges is not a three-dimensional biographic portrait. But the collection, which includes a solid number of photographs of the drafts, reveals a complex, thoughtful, energetic man of strong principles -- a man who may seem engagingly ironic even to his most white-knuckled detractors.

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