If Steven Hayward?s most recent work has piqued your interest in the history of Ronald Reagan?s presidency, you might enjoy another recent book that focuses on the 40th president?s efforts to secure nuclear arms reduction.

In Reagan?s Secret War: The Untold Story of His Fight to Save the World From Nuclear Disaster, Martin and Annelise Anderson rely heavily on recently declassified documents to show how Reagan consistently focused on goals of defeating Soviet communism and ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Even policies linked only indirectly to national defense contributed to the overall goal:

Why, then, did Gorbachev [in 1987] suddenly agree to virtually all of Reagan?s conditions? After all, their meetings in Geneva and Reykjavik had ended on a bad note, and in the intervening months Reagan?s power had only weakened, with Democrats taking the Senate, the Iran-Contra scandal, turnover in important cabinet positions, and a new presidential election approaching. On the face of things, it seemed that it made more sense for Gorbachev to dig in his heels and wait for a new president, one who?d be willing to cut him a better deal.

The answer is that Gorbachev?s hand was forced by the other pressures bearing down on the Soviet Union. That these pressures were growing was no coincidence; they had, in fact, been a major part of Reagan?s strategy for dealing with the USSR. While Reagan did not want a war with the Soviet Union, he did want to defeat it, and he had a plan for doing so. ?

[W]hen he became president, Reagan did everything he could, within reason, to undermine the Soviet economy, to make sure the Soviets gave up the [arms] race. That eventual economic collapse was, of course, what finally caused the death of the Soviet Union.