NEWPORT, RI – Naval War College (NWC) professor Dr. Stephen Knott published a book “At Reagan’s Side,” which provides an unprecedented glimpse of Ronald Reagan. The book, released May 28, is largely based on transcriptions of interviews with top Reagan officials collected over six years, and pioneers an oral history research technique, the first of its kind.
The oral history technique produced intimate and insightful reflections on Reagan from 3,000 pages of transcription. Knott’s book includes both Reagan’s years as governor of California, and years in the White House as President. The interviews included advisors, Cabinet members, and even personal assistants and secretaries.
“What we've tried to do in this book is pull the highlights out of those 3,000 pages and condense it down to a very readable 250 or so pages,” Knott, who teaches for the National Security Decision Making department, said. “For anyone interested in the presidency, or the Reagan years, I humbly think it's an enjoyable and enlightening read.”
Knott teaches courses on policymaking decision processes, and his students enjoy anecdotes and examples in the executive governmental branch. Knott said no one can understand those processes without understanding the person who makes them. He interviewed then Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger about President Reagan’s decision to deploy U.S. Marines to Lebanon in 1982 to 1983.
“Secretary Weinberger told me that the biggest disappointment of his years as Secretary of Defense was his failure to persuade President Reagan that the Marines were there on an ‘impossible mission’,” Knott said.
Professor Knott joined the NWC faculty in 2007 after co-chairing the University of Virginia’s (UVA) Presidential Oral History Program and directing the Ronald Reagan Oral History Program. His expertise ranges from American presidency and political history to national security. He received a PhD in political science from Boston College, and taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy and UVA for several years.