Ronald Reagan's White House diary is being published (May 22nd) and Vanity Fair has recently released excerpts in an article.
The diaries reveal much according to the article:
Although the diaries cover only eight years, they leave a sense of the full scope of Reagan's life. For example, there is no sense that he "left Hollywood behind." Some of the people he respected most were friends from his acting days, and so the likes of James Stewart, Frank Sinatra, Claudette Colbert, Irene Dunne, and George Murphy make regular appearances in the entries. A man who was admirably comfortable with himself, Reagan brought all of the experiences and the friendships of his long life with him into the White House years.
From the excerpts in the article, you can really see what a great source these diaries are:
Sat. Jan. 31 • Had a before lunch walk. (It was cold.) Spent afternoon in front of fire reading intelligence reports & Briefing papers for visit by Pres. Chun (Korea). We have definite evidence Nicaragua transferring hundreds of tons of arms from Cuba to El Salvador. p.m. ran a movie—"Tribute"—Jack Lemmon. He is truly a great performer.
Wed. March 4 • Our wedding anniversary. 29 years of more happiness than any man could rightly deserve. A Pakistani plane was highjacked and landed in Kabul. The Russians are holding it & 3 or 6 of the passengers are American. We haven't been able to learn which figure is right but we're going to let the Soviets know we won't put up with their games.
Mon. March 30 [written Sat. April 11] • My day to address the Bldg. & Const. Trades Nat. Conf. A.F.L.-C.I.O. at the Hilton Ballroom—2 p.m. Was all dressed to go & for some reason at the last min. took off my really good wrist watch & wore an older one.
Speech not riotously received—still it was successful.
Left the hotel at the usual side entrance and headed for the car—suddenly there was a burst of gun fire from the left. S.S. Agent pushed me onto the floor of the car & jumped on top. I felt a blow in my upper back that was unbelievably painful. I was sure he'd broken my rib. The car took off. I sat up on the edge of the seat almost paralyzed by pain. Then I began coughing up blood which made both of us think—yes I had a broken rib & it had punctured a lung. He switched orders from W.H. to Geo. Wash. U. Hosp.
By the time we arrived I was having great trouble getting enough air. We did not know that Tim McCarthy (S.S.) had been shot in the chest, Jim Brady in the head & a policeman Tom Delahanty in the neck.
I walked into the emergency room and was hoisted onto a cart where I was stripped of my clothes. It was then we learned I'd been shot & had a bullet in my lung.
Getting shot hurts.
The article offers ten pages (Internet pages) of excerpts, but you'll have to wait until the end of the month if you want to read it all.