Ronald Reagan: Bold Enough to Compromise

As new material becomes available to researchers, our picture of Ronald Reagan continues to evolve. Iwan Morgan shows how opinions of the 40th President of the United States have changed.  

Ronald and Nancy Reagan during the inaugural parade, January 20th, 1981In August 2004 Glen Jeansonne wrote a nuanced appreciation of the recently deceased Ronald Reagan. At the time, non-scholarly hagiographies and hatchet jobs competed to shape popular understanding of the 40th president’s legacy. Academic historians had not yet gained extensive access to Reagan’s presidential archives, his presidential diary or his voluminous personal correspondence (he probably wrote more letters than any president since Thomas Jefferson).  Over the next dozen years, however, new research enabled better understanding of Reagan’s leadership and legacy.

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