Ronald Reagan

The Notes: Ronald Reagan’s Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com

President Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004) is known as “the Great Communicator” not merely because he had the polished delivery of an accomplished actor, but because he actually had something substantial to say and often said it very well (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”).

Among the tools of effective communication is the employment of suitable quotes, aphorisms and stories to illustrate or drive home a point or to clarify an idea. Mr. Reagan had a sizeable private stash of quotes and quips and jokes that he had accumulated over the decades, all written out by hand on 4” x 6” cards, ready to be accessed as needed. This stack of cards was kept close at hand in his personal desk drawer for easy reference. At his death, the contents of his desk were boxed up and deposited in the Reagan Presidential Library in California. During some renovations in 2010, this stack of hand-written cards was rediscovered, and a selection of them is herein compiled and published.

The quotes, stories and jokes are divided up into nine sections, viz., “On the Nation,” “On Liberty,” “On War,” “On the People,” “On Religion,” “The World,” “On Character,” “On Political Theater,” and “Humor.” These are followed by a “glossary”—really a brief description of named authors quoted—and a topical index.

Many of the quotations are outstanding—I quote a few of the crème de la crème below (having to leave out many very good ones), but unfortunately, none is documented in the book beyond naming the original author. Reagan’s cards did not provide chapter and page references, but the editor should have, as far as he was able, provided documentation.

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