Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Paul Lettow (Random House, 2005)

Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Paul Lettow (Random House, 2005)

 

RR

This is an amazing book. Paul Lettow, following in the footsteps of Peter Schweizer (Reagan’s War), has produced a significant contribution to our understanding of the Cold War end-game in the 1980s and Ronald Reagan’s critical role in it. Back when I was in graduate school, American foreign policy historians like Richard Immerman were in the process of re-assessing the presidency of Eisenhower. They were countering popular notions from the 1950s that portrayed Ike as a somnambulant manager as opposed to a hands-on leader. Indeed, that literature revealed the depth of understanding that Eisenhower had for the Cold War and put paid to the simplistic notions circulated by the media of the day and less-than complimentary historians. So it is with Ronald Reagan. Skewered by the left-wing pro-Democratic Party media of the 1980s, Lettow’s portrayal of Reagan and his long-standing and complex motivations vis-à-vis nuclear weapons, the Soviet threat, and the Strategic Defence Initiative is compelling. It is also supported with significant documentary evidence (particularly primary sources) and interviews with almost all key participants in the Reagan era policy process. The critical question of the role of SDI in the larger strategy to undermine the Soviet Union and force it to modify aggressive behavior is given full court here. It is time to move beyond the sneering propagandistic portrayals of a committed and passionate man who, unlike countless numbers of critics, actually made a difference and changed our world. This is one window into how it was done.

-Sean M. Maloney, PhD