Magazine December 7, 2015, Issue

Getting a Grip on the Gipper

(David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years, by Thomas Mallon (Pantheon, 480 pp., $27.95)

Historical fiction can be an imaginative way of exploring great historical characters and bringing events to life beyond the documentary evidence and witness accounts. You might have thought writers would hesitate to approach Ronald Reagan and his times through fiction after the disaster of his official biographer Edmund Morris’s inserting himself as a semi-fictional character in his misbegotten Dutch (1999), but fortunately Thomas Mallon’s invented characters in his new novel of the Reagan era don’t include himself (though one suspects that more than one is a composite of real people).

Finale follows other Mallon historical titles, such as Dewey Defeats Truman

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In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

The Islamic War

The historian Thucydides felt that democracies were characteristically volatile and yet complacent when existential dangers loomed on the horizon. But once faced with impending doom — such as the near ...

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Holding Up a Mirror

People know 18th-century London more from Hogarth’s drawings than from the work of any novelist. Indeed, the titles of his best-known picture series — “A Rake’s Progress” and “Gin Lane” ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ In light of the unspeakable horrors they have suffered, please take a moment today to pray for the victims and survivors of Yale. ‐ Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio ...
Athwart

War and Imagination

After the Charlie Hebdo attack, it seemed as if French grief followed the Western model set in place after the death of Princess Di. Emotional prostration. Candlelight vigils. Heaps of ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

FIREFLIES After sundown you see the first Out of the corner of your eye, then another In the middle distance, the gloaming, Where a grove of maples conspires, Darkly thinking night-thoughts While these inklings of light ...
Happy Warrior

Liberalism Besieged

Here’s a historical bullet that I’ll happily bite: The “miracle” of the American founding was as much about tribal affinity and aligned incentives as it was about any higher notions ...
Politics & Policy

Letters

Where Have You Gone, Yogi Berra? I take issue with the editors’ comment that “Berra’s personal career statistics — batting  average, home runs, wins above replacement value — were strong but ...

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