Acclaimed historian and Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley still hasn’t found what he’s looking for. Citizens across the United States keep looking, too — for a new leader to draw the curtains on a new “Morning in America.”
They’re getting closer to unraveling the mystery behind the Reagan mystique.
“The Search for Reagan: The Appealing Intellectual Conservatism of Ronald Reagan,” with a Feb. 13 publication, is Shirley’s newest biography of the 40th president of the United States of America.
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The new book chronicles what the author believes is the untold secret of Reagan’s success: strong moral compassion and the vast but underrated intellect of a philosopher-president.
“A true leader has a moral, physical and an intellectual presence,” Shirley said on Monday in an interview with Fox News Digital.
“I was in the room with Reagan many, many times. He was always the one person in the room who was the moral, physical and intellectual leader.”
“The left wing always knew that to destroy American conservatism, they needed to destroy the most successful conservative president in 20th-century American history.”
Shirley launched a grassroots campaign to help the former California governor get elected in 1980.
He then spent years working with or on behalf of the president.
“The left wing always knew that to destroy American conservatism, they needed to destroy the most successful conservative president in 20th-century American history,” Shirley writes in the new book.
He calls the book a “counter-offensive” against those efforts to reduce the achievements of a president of historic achievement.
“Reagan has gone down in history as one of our four greatest presidents, alongside Washington, Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, according to liberal historian John Patrick Diggins,” Mark Levin, host of “Life, Liberty & Levin” on the Fox News Channel, writes in the foreword to “The Search for Reagan.”
Reagan boasted charisma, connection with everyday Americans, moral clarity, the rugged physical presence of a Golden Age of Hollywood leading man and status as the Great Communicator — traits impossible even for his rivals to dispute.
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So Reagan’s enemies attacked what appeared to be one of the few weak links in the president’s political armor. His intelligence.
Shirley names the names of the character assassins and the revisionists.
“One of the worst books ever written about Reagan, ironically, was supposed to be his official biography: ‘Dutch’ by Edmund Morris,” the book notes.
“It wound up being a joke, with made-up characters and fake narratives. It was met with derisive reviews, sold poorly, and now can’t even be found in the gift shop at the Reagan Library.”
Yet the president’s intellect was obvious, Shirley argues.
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Reagan outwitted the American left and won over the American people in two landslide election victories; he outfoxed the Soviet Union and won the Cold War.
He read and quoted in his speeches the Founding Fathers and great philosophers — and he appeared to predict the state of America today in speeches dating back to the 1960s.
“He read five newspapers a day and a nonfiction book a week.”
Reagan, among other examples of intellectual curiosity, was a voracious reader.
“He read five newspapers a day and a nonfiction book a week,” said Shirley, “along with volumes of policy memos.”
Reagan also possessed a passion for writing, penning thousands of letters in his eight years as president, the biographer states, perhaps more than any president in history.
“I consider writing to be the mark of a true intellectual,” said Shirley.
Martin Anderson, the “Reaganomics” policy architect, estimated that the president possessed an astronomical IQ of 175, the author noted.
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The president’s ivory-tower critics not only mocked Reagan as an intellectual lightweight, they branded him as a doddering old fool in his later years.
Reagan, however, was only 69 when he took office in Jan. 1981; he was 77 when he left the White House eight years later.
By comparison, President Biden was 78 when he took the oath of office in Jan. 2021.
Reagan ended the infamous “malaise” of the Jimmy Carter administration, boosted the national morale and rebuilt the economic and military strength of the United States.
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Shirley writes, and others agree, that Reagan’s intellect coalesced a movement that proved the ability of conservatism to improve the lives of all Americans.
“Reagan mobilized rhetoric into an actual political, economic and cultural idea,” Levin writes in the foreword, “assembling it into a firm and logical conservative philosophy.”
Shirley’s new book is published by Post Hill Press and is available wherever books are sold, including on Amazon.
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