The Reagan Diaries

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The Reagan Diaries
The Reagan Diaries.jpg
Author Ronald Reagan, edited by Douglas Brinkley
Country United States
Language English
Genre Diary
Published May 22, 2007 Harper Collins
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 784
ISBN 0-06-087600-X
OCLC 85850929
973.927092 B 22
LC Class E877 .A3 2007

The Reagan Diaries is an edited version of diaries written by President Ronald Reagan while in the White House. The book is edited by Douglas Brinkley, while the full, unedited diaries were published in 2009. For eight years as President, Ronald Reagan, regarded by some at the time as one of the least introspective of American leaders, kept regular, dutiful entries in a diary.[1] The edited diaries reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Reagan's diaries[edit]

Ronald Reagan was one of five American Presidents to have kept a consistent diary as President, and the only one to record accounts of his life every day, never neglecting an entry (except when he was in the hospital recovering from an assassination attempt).[2] The President's diaries were five volumes of thick, maroon, leather-bound books, which were normally kept in the White House residence. He wrote in a simple prose, with many misspellings.[3]

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan made the diaries available to be transcribed in 2005 and the Reagan Library Foundation partnered with HarperCollins to print them in 2007.[4] The company paid seven figures for the world rights to publish this book.[5]

The President writes openly about his relationship with his children, once writing that he refused to talk to his son, Ron, and about his relationship, love, devotion, and adoration for his wife. When Nancy Reagan was away on her frequent "Just Say No" anti-drug crusades, Reagan wrote in his diary about going "upstairs to a lonely old house," and noted their anniversary as "29 years of more happiness than any man could rightly deserve."[2] Also writing about his wife, he stated "I pray I'll never face a day when she isn't there." When the President was shot on March 30, 1981, his entry for that day begins: "Getting shot hurts." Although he was not a regular churchgoer, his faith in God is a consistent element in the diaries and does not seem contrived.[3] Reagan took care not to spell out even mild swear words, so hell was written h--l and damn was d--n.

Compared to other Presidential diary recordings innermost thoughts, Reagan did not reflect as deeply as some others did.[1] However, the original intent doesn't exactly suggest that the diaries were supposed to do so.[6] According to Nancy Reagan, “We just wanted a way to capture the moment and our feelings before we were whisked on to the next day".[6] One reviewer wrote, "No one expected Reagan to be introspective or philosophical in his diary, and it is likely that he knew his diaries would someday become public, which is why he elided his mild cursing ("d--n" and "h--l") and was circumspect in other ways".[7]

Those who admire him will find that he did not have much of a dark side; he did not curse and plot against enemies; he did not agonize and fall prey to insecurity; he keeps a couple of key principles—taxation is bad and Communism is evil—clearly in mind at all times and did not get mired into details.[3] The head archivist at the Reagan Library, Mike Dugan, described Reagan's writings by saying, "I wouldn't call it an introspective diary, but he states his position. What you read confirms that what you saw with Reagan is what you got."[4]


The actual diaries are on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.


  1. ^ a b Shribman, David. (22 May 2007). "'Diaries' reveals the man behind the presidency". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  2. ^ a b Brinkley, Douglas. (June 2007). "The Reagan Diaries". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2007-06-05. 
  3. ^ a b c Lemann, Nicholas. (28 May 2007). "O Lucky Man! The diaries of Ronald Reagan". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  4. ^ a b Bakalis, Anna. (20 May 2007). "Library gets first look at Reagan Diaries". Ventura County Star. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  5. ^ Motoko, Rich (2007-05-03). "History Made Intimate Through Reagan's Diaries". The New York Times. pp. Section E, p. 3 Column 1. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  6. ^ a b Phillips, Kevin. (June 2007). "Reagan on Reagan". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  7. ^ Hayward, Steven. (November 2007). "Reagan and the Historians". Claremont Review of Books. Retrieved 2008-10-18.