Donald Lambro

Ronald Reagan's legacy is being kept very much alive here at a time when Republicans have lost their way and are looking for a new voice to lead them out of the political wilderness.

The richly detailed testament Reagan left behind in his archives and writings, much of it still unknown to the public at large, is being uncovered, re-examined, recorded, studied and preserved at the Hoover Institution, the venerable think tank where many Reaganites of that age continue to work, breathing new life into his legacy for future generations. Much of that work is being done in the lofty Hoover Tower that stands in the middle of Stanford University's sprawling, bucolic campus, where former Reagan adviser Martin Anderson and his wife, Annelise, have been the faithful chroniclers in chief of the late president's life and times.

Their detective work began with the extraordinary discovery of boxes full of hundreds of legal-pad pages of radio commentaries handwritten by Reagan in the 1970s that dealt with everything from nuclear arms to farm subsidies to the free-enterprise system.

"In His Own Hand" revealed the former president's well-stocked mind and intellectual curiosity -- far from the media-mythology that portrayed him as a dunce who didn't know much. A map of the country in Anderson's suite of offices has colored pins all over it, showing the hundreds of radio stations that regularly broadcast Reagan's five-day-a-week, five-minute commentaries that made him a well-known radio voice across the country long before the Washington media elite caught on to what was about to change the face of American politics.

Then came "A Life in Letters," a fascinating documentation of his highly disciplined habit of writing thousands of letters over his career, detailing his views on a wealth of issues and ideas through a copious exchange of correspondence with the high and the mighty and the ordinary John Q. Citizen. The Reagan letters that have since surfaced now stand at about 10,000 and counting.

That was followed by the publication of Reagan's White House diaries, which he penned meticulously at the end of each day, recording his daily thoughts, triumphs, defeats, crises and disappointments, seasoned liberally with his undiminished good humor.

Now word is seeping out that the Andersons will be coming out with yet another blockbuster book on Reagan's presidency sometime early next year, this one dealing with his handling of the nation's foreign policy during the Cold War that eventually led to the dismantlement of the Evil Empire.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.