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Extended Audio Sample The Reagan I Knew Audiobook, by William F. Buckley Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (153 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: William F. Buckley Narrator: Malcolm Hillgartner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2009 ISBN: 9781455192397
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No two people were more important to American conservatism in the postwar era than William F. Buckley Jr. and Ronald Reagan. Buckley’s writings provided the intellectual underpinnings, while Reagan brought the conservative movement out of the wilderness and into the White House.

The pair met in 1961 when Reagan introduced a speech by Buckley. When nobody could turn on the microphone, Reagan climbed out a window, walked along a ledge to the locked control room, broke in, and flipped the correct switch. Buckley later described this moment as “a nifty allegory of Reagan’s approach to foreign policy: the calm appraisal of a situation, the willingness to take risks, and then the decisive moment leading to lights and sound.”

For over thirty years, the two men shared jokes and vacations, advised each other on politics, and counseled each other’s children. 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 US 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.

The Reagan I Knew traces the evolution of an extraordinary friendship between two American political giants.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A genial and charming book.”

    Reader’s Digest

  • “Malcolm Hillgartner performs a good balancing act, shifting from the essays to the letters with subtle changes that clearly indicate whose letter is being read. His most impressive feat is creating a clear yet subdued voice within the reading to indicate when footnotes or asides for clarification are being made.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A deeply subtle account, full of insights not only into Ronald Reagan but also into William Buckley, his longtime friend, supporter, and (occasional) critic.”

    Booklist

  • “[An] easy-reading, illuminating volume [that] adds to the growing literature celebrating Reagan's style and substantive achievements, especially in ending the Cold War.” 

    Gil Troy, professor of history, McGill University

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 12/16/2013

    " A great, quick read for any Reagan fan. Through Buckley's letters with the Reagans, you get a good sense of the character and intellect of Ronald Reagan. A very enjoyable book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynda | 12/12/2013

    " This book, using a lot of correspondence between William Buckley, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan, gives a different perspective on Ronald and Nancy than in other biographies. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eubond | 11/18/2013

    " Not a biography of Reagan, but an intimate portrait painted through the eyes of as decades-long friendship. The author sewed together independent events and letters to give a fresh view of a much-loved US President. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jacki | 5/29/2013

    " Fantastic and heartfelt; the correspondence between WFB and RR/NR dating back to the 1960s is endearing and witty splashed with elements of historical note. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alice | 1/4/2013

    " I picked this up on a lark, and the personal stories WFB tells are very insightful regarding the overall intelligence of Ronald Reagan. Also, I was surprised by the depth of feeling he has for Nancy Reagan. Very entertaining for a short read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark Selby | 2/2/2012

    " Mostly personal tidbits. Enjoyable, but not earth shattering. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Suz | 4/12/2010

    " Listened to this one on tape. Excellent. Mostly letters bettween the Reagan and Buckley clans. A wide range of topics spanning from current world events and political policies to family chatter. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brad | 12/31/2009

    " Just ok. Was hoping it would be a bit better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ed | 12/20/2009

    " Considering it is about two of my favorite icons I may have expected too much. The relationship between WFB and Nancy seems to have been covered in more detail. Some bright spots but very little insight into as to their relationship. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ray Dinterman | 4/13/2009

    " After Bill Buckley's death, I went back to this book. Great writing on all things Rondald Reagan with the with of Buckley. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill Peacock | 3/17/2009

    " This book is a double bonus--the reader gets to learn about the book's subject and its author, who just happen to be the two greatest political figures of our time. "

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About the Author

William F. Buckley Jr. (1925–2008)—a syndicated columnist, author, editor, television host, and adventurer—was the founder of National Review and the host of the Emmy Award–winning Firing Line, the longest-running public affairs program in television history with a single host. Buckley was the award-winning author of many bestsellers, starting with God and Man at Yale.

About the Narrator

Malcolm Hillgartner is an actor, author, playwright, and professional narrator. Under the name Jahnna N. Malcolm, he and his wife, Jahnna Beecham, have written over one hundred books for young readers; their musicals have played in theaters across America. His audiobook credits include works by Dean Koontz, Nelson Algren, and William F. Buckley Jr. He has won four AudioFile Earphones Awards.