Saturday, March 28, 2009

Unexpected Ronald Reagan - New Books in History

The podcast New Books In History is rapidly becoming a huge favorite of mine. There are few history podcasts with this level and NBIH is unique in its format of host Marshall Poe interviewing historians about their books. The result is a very vivid podcast with the best in their field to speak of their subject.

An outstanding sample was last week's interview with James Mann about his biography of Ronald Reagan, The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan. Who has ever associated Reagan with rebellion? Even though the facts as presented by Mann are, in my humble opinion, short of rebellion, but certainly show Reagan as a politician with his own views and one to follow them, also against the odds and against the party line. Reagan switched from being Democrat to Republican, but that is not all.

The most astounding fact, for me, was to find that Reagan was much less a belligerent president than perceived by me (and probably many others). He was especially averse of nuclear weapons and therefore, the amazing turn in the cold war, comes to stand in another light. It is not just the merit of Gorbachev, but also of Reagan, who was very receptive, I find out now, for the disarmament initiative. It didn't go smoothly though. Reagan and Gorbachev were very different characters and Reagan was not open to trust a communist, but nevertheless they managed to see eye to eye in the end. How this came about is told very lively by Mann. It makes the podcast apart from rivetingly interesting also very amusing.

More NBIH:
Evolution, genetics and history,
Kees Boterbloem about Jan Struys.

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