Primary Sources:

  • Reagan, Ronald. An American Life: Ronald Reagan. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2011.

Written by the fortieth president himself, this autobiography tells the story of Reagan’s life as only the so called Great Communicator could tell it. From his beginning years of childhood during the Great Depression to his movie career in California and then the years of his governorship and presidency, Ronald Reagan’s innate optimism radiates from the pages of this entire book. Reagan goes in-depth into all the well-known events of his life including his Barry Goldwater nomination speech, the assassination attempt, and his relationship with the Soviet Primer Mikhail Gorbachev. An American Life will provide the reader with a rich personal account written from the perspective of a man with so much to tell.


  • Reagan, Ronald. The Notes: Ronald Reagan’s Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom. New York: Harper, 2011.

This personal collection of notes provides readers with the chance to dive into the mind, heart, and soul of our nation’s fortieth president. Reagan’s collection of notes and stories reveals insights into where he drew his political, spiritual, literary, philosophical and comical inspirations from included texts from Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, Mahatmas Gandhi, and Mark Twain. This collection provides readers with a perspective of Reagan rarely seen or read by offering Reagan’s personal reflection not just on politics, but on marriage, family, and his general views on life with comical one liners such as, “Money may not buy friends, but it will help you to stay in contact with your children.”


  • Reagan, Ronald. The Reagan Diaries. New York: Harper, 2007. #1 New York Times Bestseller.

Edited by respected historian and University of Rice professor Douglass Brinkley, this day to day diary of Reagan’s own writings revolves around the inner workings of the Oval Office and diplomatic travels. This New York Times Bestseller illuminates Reagan’s personal thoughts while in office and his convictions towards his political policies such as, Reagan’s referral to the media as a “lynch mob” and citing his foreign policy towards apartheid South Africa as “quiet diplomacy” as he converses with Archbishop and South African activist Desmond Tutu. The Reagan Diaries reveals Reagan as the man in the oval office with all the subtle and grandiose personal political thoughts that accompany him.


  • Skinner, K. Kiron, Anderson, Annelise, Anderson, Martin, and Shultz, P. George. Reagan, In His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan that Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America. New York: Free Press, 2001.

Edited by Senior Researchers at the Hoover Institute, Reagan, In His Own Hand provides readers with the chance to analyze the mind of our nation’s fortieth president as this series of handwritten excerpts provides great insights into Reagan’s continuous struggle with himself, his policies, and his visions for his country. Included, within the book, ranges from a school assignment that Reagan wrote when he was just fourteen to his memorable speech that declared to the nation his future battles with Alzheimer’s disease. Both friend and foe of Reagan can agree after this read that he was truly the “Great Communicator.”

  • Reagan, Nancy, and Reagan, Ronald. I love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan. New York: Random House, 2000.


This personal account of the letters received by Nancy Reagan from her husband will shed light on the relationship that the two shared during all their years of prosperity and tumultuousness. This account provides many of the letters that Ronald Reagan wrote to Nancy and also includes Nancy’s personal reflections on the letters, which gives this read an extremely sentimental tone. For someone looking to understand the subtleties of the president-first lady relationship, this account will provide insights into the details of the union between Ronald and Nancy Reagan and the dynamic life they lived.


  • Shultz, P. George. Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.

Former Secretary of State under Reagan, George P. Shultz provides a vivid account of the Reagan administration through his years of political involvement from 1982 to 1989. Shultz addresses all the critical issues of his time including the escalating arms race with the Soviet Union and the Iran-Contra Affair. His account provides deep insights into the formidable political players of the day such as Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Hosni Mubarak, and delivers an extremely dynamic account of Ronald Reagan. Turmoil and Triumph will not only provide the reader will insights into Shultz strong views on foreign policy and his usage of both force and diplomacy, but will also dissect the political climate of the time with a particular focus on Reagan himself.


Authorized biography:

  • Morris, Edmund. Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan. New York: Random House, 1999.


This book, being the only authorized biography by a sitting president, is written in a biographical fashion that will fascinate its readers and will lure them in with the complexity of the story that is told. Edmund Morris, Pulitzer Prize winning biographer of Theodore Roosevelt, revolutionizes the traditional biographic landscape by creating a fictionalized world within the colossal realm of Reagan’s life with characters that are not found in reality, but in the narrative told by Morris. Beginning with the young boy in his early 1900s Illinois town, Dutch provides an illuminating portrayal of the fortieth president from his childhood years all the way into the darkening days of dementia. Because of the creative biographical style of the book due to the coming and going of Morris’s fictional characters, one might find the narrative as somewhat illusory. However, Dutch serves as a staple in the Reagan cannon as this book rightly takes its place as an imaginative, reputable, and authorized biography of a man, who just like the many characters in the story, lived a life of many characters.


Secondary Sources:

  • Bunch, Will. Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy. New York: Free Press, 2010.


Written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Will Bunch, Tear Down This Myth provides readers with insights into the Reagan legacy and the effects that have occurred due to the Republican Party’s build- up of this legacy. Bunch, who writes from a more liberal perspective, does not try to simply attack the Reagan presidency, but tries to inform the reader of the political workings and consequences involved with holding Reagan to a mythical standard that simply was not and is not true. This book tries to illuminate the actual positive attributes of Reagan such as, his ability to talk and compromise with Soviet leaders, while maintaining a vanguard against political forces that create an image of Reagan as a superhuman figure. Ultimately, Tear Down This Myth adequately provides readers with a unique perspective on the Reagan presidency by trying to make relevant and constrain the myth making and illuminating actualities.


  • Cannon, Lou. President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime. New York: Public Affairs, 2000.

Labeled by The New Yorker as, “a superlative study of a president and his presidency,” Lou Cannon’s, President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime provides a balanced account of Reagan’s presidency by revealing both his flaws and positive attributes. An example of this balance is juxtaposing Reagan’s increase of the national debt, which was the largest accumulated by any president up to that point in U.S. history, while still elaborating on Reagan’s unwavering optimism towards his country that made so many Americans believe in a prosperous future again. Lou Cannon provides an in-depth and complex portrait of Reagan that only Cannon knows how to construct. Cannon’s journalism of Reagan during his California governorship and White House correspondence during Reagan’s presidency allows the reader access to a book that pursues a deep and multifaceted understanding of the nation’s fortieth president, meaning a culmination of strengths and weaknesses that made for an American Icon.


  • Cannon, Lou. Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power. New York: Public Affairs, 2003.

Hailed by the National Review’s Ed Meese as, “a remarkable chronicle of the events leading up to the Reagan presidency. It provides fascinating reading and a rich account….” Long time Reagan journalist and correspondent Lou Cannon effectively provides an account of Reagan’s bid for the California governorship in 1966 and his two terms as governor. Filled with critiques and complementary information, this book creates a vivid portrait of the man that became the fortieth president of the United States.


  • Collins, M. Robert. Transforming America: Politics and Culture During the Reagan Years. New York: Colombia University Press, 2009.


Written by renowned historian, professor and author Robert M. Collins provides readers with a culminating account of 1980’s America and the lasting political and cultural effects of Reagan’s presidency. With a direct and understandable writing style, Collins lays out an honest critique of Reagan and ultimately attempts to dispel attacks against the fortieth president, while maintaining a viewpoint that shields Collins pro- Reagan stance. This book represents a viewpoint that is undeniable, that Reagan’s presidency called for massive political and cultural change in America and all the more that historians must do their best to put bias aside and construct history worthy of the time they try to encompass.


Francis Fitzgerald’s book, Way Out There in the Blue, tells the story of Reagan’s presidency through primarily the lens of Cold War related events. Fitzgerald’s book analyzes both the faults and strengths of Reagan’s presidency by telling of his failure to not always recognize the consequences of his policies, but always exhibiting a sincere confidence in himself and the American people, which attracted many Americans to his side. The winner of the 2000 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography, Way Out There in the Blue provides an analysis of Reagan’s presidency through mainly the lens of the S.D.I. program or the Strategic Defense Initiatives. Fitzgerald links the S.D.I. and its primary mission of creating an impenetrable defense sphere around the U.S. along with nuclear disarmament throughout the entire book as Reagan’s belief in this program summed up his presidency. This connection between his foreign policy beliefs and those of which he held about America’s position in a global context reveals a president that believed dearly in the possibility of a peaceful planet with American morality at the lead, even if he himself faulted from his staunch moralistic principles.


  • Study Guide, Book Caps. Reaganomics in Plain and Simple English. Los Angeles: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.


This easy to read guide of Reagan’s economic policies, commonly termed “Reaganomics,” reveals in a simple and fluid manner what the policies intended to accomplish, how the policies were implemented, and provides both the negatives and positives of the policies. Ultimately, readers will come away with a sound interpretation of one of the most famed presidential economic policies in U.S. history that are simultaneously deemed as attributing to an American decline and an American rise.



  • Walker W., Thomas. Nicaragua: Living in the Shadow of the Eagle: Massachusetts: Westview Press. 2003.


For alternative research on Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy rather than that directly concerned with the Soviet Union, Thomas W. Walker’s Nicaragua provides an in-depth look at the foreign policy that Ronald Reagan took towards Nicaragua and the Sandinista Revolution. Reagan’s use of blunt force and covert operations in the name of securing United States safety made him an enemy to the socialistic revolutionaries who were rebelling against their government’s inability to meet the needs of the poor. This book provides a perspective to Reagan’s foreign policy rarely analyzed and will create a more dynamic picture of a president who would protect the U.S. from any remote communistic sympathy in the Western Hemisphere no matter the cost.


Presidential Library Links:

  • The link below provides access to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Archives, which includes access to presidential documents, speeches, photographs and even motion picture clips along with helpful research links to assist in your study of Reagan.


  • The following link provides access to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University that has access to thousands of historical documents including those relating to many aspects of Reagan’s political career.


Ronald Reagan Video Links of Significance:


  • The following link is for Ronald Reagan’s, “A Time for Choosing” Barry Goldwater nomination speech in October 17, 1964. The entire speech is close to a half an hour long, but the following link focuses on a four-minute section that represents the crux of Reagan’s speech. This speech will set the tone for his presidential campaign.


  • The following link provides access to the first ABC News Bulletin that covered the Reagan assassination attempt on March 30, 1981.



  • The following link provides access to Reagan’s acting days and this clip specifically is one of the more classic movie clips of all time as Reagan delivers the famous “win one for the Gipper” speech in the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American. This acting performance led to Reagan’s association with the nickname of the “Gipper.”


  • The following is a link to a series of Reagan jokes about the Soviet Union that he delivers in speeches. These jokes reveal Reagan’s humoristic side, which was widely appreciated by the American public, but remember these are jokes and the listener should not base his or her opinion of the Soviet Union (or anything for that matter) based off of the jokes delivered by Reagan.



  • The following link provides access to the main highlights of Reagan’s Brandenburg Gate speech where he announces, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” This speech is a lasting memory of the fortieth president and will forever reside as a cornerstone moment in U.S. history.


  • The following link provides access to the entirety of Reagan’s 1981 presidential Inaugural Address.


  • The following link provides access to the entirety of Reagan’s second presidential Inaugural Address on January 21, 1985.


  • The following link provides access to the entirety of Reagan’s Farewell Address from the Oval Office on January 11, 1989.

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