CONFIDENTIAL SOURCES ARE immensely valuable to Washington reporters and contemporary biographers. They are also dangerous. People allowed the protection of anonymity may be willing to say what they are unwilling to say on the record or what they have been forbidden to disclose. But such confidences impose a burden on the confidant, as well as on the reader. The reporter or biographer privy to confidential material should examine every available source or record of the information given him, holding anonymous information to a higher standard of verification than information that is a matter of record. I have followed this practice to the best of my ability and have relied on confidential sources only when vital information could not be obtained by other means.
Since first writing about Ronald Reagan in 1965, I have interviewed him on more than forty occasions. Much of the source material in this book is based on these interviews, on my experience as a White House correspondent for The Washington Post during the Reagan presidency, on earlier assignments covering Reagan campaigns and the first term of his governorship for the San Jose Mercury-News, on 260 interviews conducted specifically for this book (including three with Reagan and three with Nancy Reagan), on hundreds of other interviews for two earlier books on Reagan or for newspaper articles, on various books written about Reagan, and on Reagan's 1965 autobiography Where's the Rest of Me? and his 1990 memoirs An American Life.
Where's the Rest of Me? is cited in these notes as WTROM. The citations to Reagan refer to my 1982 biography of Reagan. The citations to Ronnie and Jesse refer to my 1969 dual biography of Reagan and Jesse Unruh, Ronnie and Jesse: A Political Odyssey. Where a Reagan speech, comment, statement, or document is cited, it appears in The Public Papers of the Presidents for that date, unless otherwise noted. Citations to interviews with Reagan's brother, Neil, unless otherwise noted, were conducted for Ronnie and Jessie. Neil Reagan, who had Alzheimer's disease, died of a heart ailment on December 11, 1996.
New interviews and source material were used in the 2000 edition of President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime. A new ending to the last chapter of 5,500 words drew upon the proceedings of the 1993 Princeton Conference on the End of the Cold War. Substantial portions of this conference were published in a 1996 book, Witnesses to the End of the Cold War, listed in the bibliography. In addition to seventy minor changes, the revised edition in