The Public Interest

Reagan versus the intellectuals

Wilfred M. McClay

Spring 1998

AS Samuel Johnson once remarked, we more often need to be reminded than to be instructed. That pithy observation helps us take the proper measure of Dinesh D’Souza’s newest book, Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader. † It must be conceded at the outset that, from a strictly scholarly or historical standpoint, this is not a trailblazing book. There are no new discoveries here, no startlingly original interpretations, few fresh facts. Nor is such a slim volume meant to preempt or compete with the massive authorized Reagan biography currently being written by Edmund Morris, or even with the earlier biographical efforts of Lou Cannon, Laurence Barrett, Ronnie Dugger, Garry Wills, et al., or the score-settling memoirs too numerous to mention. Indeed, given its light and accessible touch, a touch reminiscent of the book’s subject, it is more like an extended essay than a standard biographical or historical study.

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