In The Regan I Knew, the late William F. Buckley Jr. offers a reminiscence of thirty years of friendship with the man who brought the American conservative movement out of the political wilderness and into the White House. Ronald Reagan and Buckley were political allies and close friends throughout Reagan’s political career. They went on vacations together and shared inside jokes. When Reagan was elected president, Buckley wrote him to say that Reagan should not offer him any position in the new administration; Reagan wrote back saying he had hoped to appoint Buckley U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan (then under Soviet occupation). For the rest of his term, Reagan called Buckley “Mr. Ambassador.” On the day the Soviets withdrew, he wrote Buckley to congratulate him for single-handedly driving out the Red Army “without ever leaving Kabul.”
Yet for all the words that have been written about him, Ronald Reagan remains an enigma. His former speechwriter Peggy Noonan called him “paradox all the way down,” and even his son Ron Reagan despaired of ever truly knowing him. But Reagan was not an enigma to William F. Buckley Jr. They understood and taught each other for decades, and together they changed history.
This book presents an American political giant as seen by another giant, who knew him perhaps better than anyone else. It is the most revealing portrait of Ronald Reagan the world is likely to have.
William F. Buckley Jr. (1925—2008) was the author and editor of over fifty works of fiction and nonfiction. The founder and former editor-in-chief of National Review and former host of “Firing Line,” he was one of the intellectual leaders of the right from the 1950s until his death in 2008. His syndicated column, “On the Right,” was begun in 1962. He served as a CIA agent in the early 1950s, helped found the Young Americans for Freedom in 1960, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H.W. Bush in 1991. His most recent work of nonfiction, Flying High, an appreciation of Barry Goldwater, was published by Basic Books in 2007.