White House

Reagan and Gorbachev

A new biography of Ronald Reagan uses the president's personal letters to flesh out his relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev. James Mann's new book, The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan, due out March 6, uses newly-discovered correspondences to chronicle the Cold War negotiations between Reagan and Gorbachev. He describes the leaders' tenuous relationship—which ran from hostility to careful public stagecraft—as a microcosm of the tumultuous affair between the two superpowers. Mann recasts the tension of the nuclear arms race on a back-and-forth between the two men, once detailing Reagan's inability to hold up his end of the negotiations. "At their next session, Reagan performed so poorly that his own aides were taken aback," Mann writes of one-on-one talks between the President and Gorbachev in 1987. "'Mr. President, that was a disaster,' the secretary of state told the president. 'You can't just sit there telling jokes.'"