In this political biography of Reagan, D'Souza (Illiberal Education) occasionally slips into hagiology, defending the former president like a zealot shielding a saint's reputation. What saves the author from complete obsequiousness is his ability to gently point out errors in Reagan's personality or politics. Yet those moments are few. For most of the work, D'Souza employs his meticulous research skills to respond to charges against Reagan, claiming that the contemporary prevailing opinion about the Reagan era is a revised, liberal version of events. Calling Reagan ""grossly misunderstood,"" D'Souza sets out to prove that almost everything Reagan did was right, from the invasion of Grenada to supply-side economics. At his best, D'Souza can be a marvelous debate captain, marshaling sources to fortify his viewpoint. At his worst, the author is often in danger of falling prey to revisionism himself. Even when the facts are questionable, D'Souza glosses over his portrait of Reagan, risking hypocrisy to justify and praise. For example, Reagan preached family values and paternal love yet was admittedly cold to his children and sometimes distant to his wife. Conservatives will appreciate the author's loyalty, but those with differing opinions will not be swayed. (Nov.) FYI: This fall also saw publication of Recollections of Reagan: A Portrait of Ronald Reagan edited by Peter Hannaford (Morrow, $24 256p ISBN 0-688-14613-9) and Michael Reagan's The City on a Hill: Fulfilling Ronald Reagan's Vision for America from Thomas Nelson (Forecasts, Aug. 4).
Reviewed on: 11/03/1997 Release date: 11/01/1997 Genre: Nonfiction