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Son of the Midwest, movie star, and mesmerizing politician—America’s fortieth President comes to three-dimensional life in this gripping and profoundly revisionist biography. 

From best-selling biographer Max Boot comes this revelatory portrait, a decade in the making, of Ronald Reagan, the actor-turned-politician whose telegenic leadership ushered in a transformative conservative era in American politics. Despite his fame as a Hollywood star and television host, Reagan remained an enigma—a man of profound contradictions—even to those closest to him. Believing that this inscrutability contributed to his appeal, Boot sought to reveal the real man behind the mythology. Drawing on over a hundred new interviews and thousands of newly available documents, Reagan tells the epic story of the Depression-era poor boy who transfixed the nation. Yet Boot, a one-time Republican policy advisor, offers no apologia, depicting a man with a Manichean, good-vs.-evil worldview derived from his moralistic upbringing. Providing revelatory insights into “trickle-down economics,” the Cold War’s end, the Iran-Contra affair, and so much more, this definitive biography is as compelling a presidential biography as any in recent decades. 

“Max Boot’s masterwork brings to readers a penetrating portrait of Ronald Reagan, one of the most consequential presidents in American history. Here is the real Reagan, not the myth: pragmatic, dreamy, lucky and oblivious. Boot’s depiction is deeply reported, unflinching and persuasive. A must-read.” 

—David E. Hoffman, author of The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal and The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy

“This is a timely and fascinating book, just what we need to understand, and perhaps transcend, our current age of political paralysis and polarization. Max Boot shows how Reagan, a man of contradictions, could be stubborn, ideological, and willing to use code phrases that helped perpetrate racism. But he had the instincts of a pragmatist and an optimist, which helped him get things done. Understanding Reagan is key to understanding our politics today.”

Walter Isaacson, author of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs


“As Max Boot astutely observes, to comprehend the arc of the twentieth century, you must also understand Ronald Reagan. This comprehensive biography -- relying on a decade of research, unearthed records and revealing interviews -- separates man from myth, offering a compelling and clear-eyed portrait of this consequential president and the country he shaped.”

Karen Tumulty, author of The Triumph of Nancy Reagan



2019 Finalist for Pulitzer Prize in Biography &

A New York Times Bestseller

In chronicling the adventurous life of legendary CIA operative Edward Lansdale, The Road Not Taken definitively reframes our understanding of the Vietnam War.

In this epic biography of Edward Lansdale (1908– 1987), the man said to be the fictional model for Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, best-selling historian Max Boot demonstrates how Lansdale pioneered a “hearts and mind” diplomacy, first in the Philippines, then in Vietnam. It was a visionary policy that, as Boot reveals, was ultimately crushed by America’s giant military bureaucracy, steered by elitist generals and blueblood diplomats who favored troop build-ups and napalm bombs over winning the trust of the people. Through dozens of interviews and access to neverbefore-seen documents—including long-hidden love letters—Boot recasts this cautionary American story, tracing the bold rise and the crashing fall of the roguish “T. E. Lawrence of Asia” from the battle of Dien Bien Phu to the humiliating American evacuation in 1975. Bringing a tragic complexity to this so-called “ugly American,” this “engrossing biography” (Karl Marlantes) rescues Lansdale from historical ignominy and suggests that Vietnam could have been different had we only listened. With reverberations that continue to play out in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Road Not Taken is a biography of profound historical consequence.

In this fine portrait of Edward Lansdale, Max Boot adds to his well-deserved reputation as being among the most insightful and productive of contemporary historians. This is a superb book. Diligently researched and gracefully written, it builds on a comprehensive analysis of Lansdale’s triumphs in the post–World War II Philippines to provide much new material, and expose old myths, about one of the most fascinating, and in many ways ultimately saddest, members of the supporting cast in the later war in Vietnam.

Lewis Sorley, National Review


The Road Not Taken is an impressive work, an epic and elegant biography based on voluminous archival sources. . . . Mr. Boot’s full-bodied biography does not ignore Lansdale’s failures and shortcomings—not least his difficult relations with his family—but it properly concentrates on his ideas and his attempts to apply them in Southeast Asia. . . . The Road Not Taken gives a vivid portrait of a remarkable man and intelligently challenges the lazy assumption that failed wars are destined to fail or that failure, if it comes, cannot be saved from the worst possible outcome.

Robert D. Kaplan, Wall Street Journal




One of the Washington Post's "50 Notable Works of Nonfiction in 2018"

A New York Times Editors' Choice

“A devastating dissection of conservatism’s degeneracy in America.”

–Andrew Sullivan, New York magazine

“[Boot] has written one of the most impressive and unflinching diagnoses of the pathologies in Republican politics that led to Trump’s rise…. Admirable... Radical.... Clear-eyed.... Astonishing... Heretical."

–Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

“In this searching and heartfelt account of his personal political evolution, Max Boot has given us a particular story with universal import. In this chaotic time, his sane and sober voice is a vital one, and his story is testament to the battle our better angels must wage against the insidious forces of darkness.”

–Jon Meacham, author of The Soul of America

“[A] page-turner…. Max Boot reveals himself as a thoughtful and serious individual who is wary of dogmatism from either political side. We who are readers of his books and regular columns should be thankful for his insight into the conservative movement, and for his intellectual growth and honesty.”

–Ron Radosh, The Tablet

“A conservative inspired by Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, Boot now finds himself a political refugee rightly offended by the excesses of Trump’s Republican Party and the continued collapse of American conservatism. His latest work is an important must-read for anyone hoping to better understand where the right went wrong and what the future of American politics has in store for us all.”

–Joe Scarborough, co-host, “Morning Joe”


“Max Boot mixes lively memoir with sharp analysis to make an important argument about the state of conservatism in America today. This is a book conservatives are going to have to reckon with and that all of us can learn from.”

–William Kristol, Founder and Editor at large, The Weekly Standard


“Max Boot is one of our sharpest contemporary thinkers about politics, world affairs and America’s role in the global crisis facing liberal democracy. Unsparing, acute and wonderfully well–written, The Corrosion of Conservatism is a bracing repudiation of ideological myopia, moral compromise and intellectual corruption. More than that, it is an indispensable dissection of how conservatism devolved from the philosophical rigor of William Buckley to the toxic tribalism of Donald Trump – and what we must do to set our future right.”

–Richard North Patterson, bestselling author of Loss of Innocence



Selected as one of the Washington Post's one hundred best books of 2013 &

A New York Times Bestseller

As fitting for the twenty-first century as von Clausewitz's On War was in its own time, Invisible Armies is a complete global history of guerrilla uprisings through the ages.

Beginning with the first insurgencies in the ancient world--when Alexander the Great discovered that fleet nomads were harder to defeat than massive conventional armies--Max Boot, best-selling author and military advisor in Iraq and Afghanistan, masterfully guides us from the Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire up through the horrors of the French-Indochina War and the shadowy, post-9/11 battlefields of today.

Relying on a diverse cast of unforgettable characters--not only Mao and Che but also the legendary Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi, the archaeologist–turned–military commander T. E. Lawrence, and the "Quiet American" Edward Lansdale, among others--Boot explodes everything we thought we knew about unconventional combat. The result is both an enthralling read and our most important work on nontraditional warfare.

Invisible Armies presents an entirely original narrative of warfare, which demonstrates that, far from the exception, loosely organized partisan or guerrilla warfare has been the dominant form of military conflict throughout history. New York Times best-selling author and military historian Max Boot traces guerrilla warfare and terrorism from antiquity to the present, narrating nearly thirty centuries of unconventional military conflicts. Filled with dramatic analysis of strategy and tactics, as well as many memorable characters—from Italian nationalist Guiseppe Garibaldi to the “Quiet American,” Edward Lansdale—Invisible Armies is “as readable as a novel” (Michael Korda, Daily Beast) and “a timely reminder to politicians and generals of the hard-earned lessons of history” (Economist).

“Destined to be the classic account of what may be the oldest . . . hardest form of war.”

—John Nagl, Wall Street Journal

"This is the definitive treatment of guerrilla warfare through the agesa tour de force by a preeminent military historian who has advised generals, policymakers and political leaders on the subject."

—Senator John S. McCain

"Max Boot has produced the most definitive and comprehensive work to date on the dominant form of warfare of our times. From the origins of guerrilla warfare to current conflicts the reader travels through the centuries of time understanding the nature and character of unconventional warfare yet because of the power of Boot's narrative and sheer ability to tell a story, the reader can live the experience. A must read for scholars, military and government professionals and a fascinating journey for the general public."

—General (Ret.) Jack Keane, former Army Vice Chief of Staff

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A Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, &

Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year

America's "small wars," "imperial war," or, as the Pentagon now terms them, "low-intensity conflicts," have played an essential but little-appreciated role in its growth as a world power. Beginning with Jefferson's expedition against the Barbary pirates, Max Boot tells the exciting stories of our sometimes minor but often bloody landings in Samoa, the Philippines, China, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Mexico, Russia, and elsewhere. Along the way he sketches colorful portraits of little-known military heroes such as Stephen Decatur, "Fighting Fred" Funston, and Smedly Butler.


This revised and updated edition of Boot's compellingly readable history of the forgotten wars that helped promote America's rise in the last two centuries includes a wealth of new material, including a chapter on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a new afterword on the lessons of the post-9/11 world.

"Max Boot's The Savage Wars of Peace makes it possible to revisit that past 'imperial' tradition and mine it for lessons that might improve the management of today's global reviewing the nation's past, he shows its future.... Thanks to Boot's journalistic sense--he is editorial features editor at the Wall Street Journal--those lessons make for a great story and a compelling read. Boot combines a wide-angle perspective with an eye for detail."

—Foreign Affairs

"[Boot] tells the story with clarity and verve, rediscovering on the way some lesser-known American heroes.... Clear narrative plus such tales of daring-do are enough on their own to make this book enjoyable. But Mr. Boot is also trying to make a point about the present.... Enjoyable.... Informative."

—The Economist

"Boot's well-written narrative is not only fascinating reading, but didactic as well.... The events of September 11 give The Savage Wars of Peace an uncanny timeliness and sadly confirm almost all of Boot's dispassionate warnings."

—The Weekly Standard

"A book that has become--very much like [Paul] Kennedy's, [Francis] Fukuyama's and [Samuel] Huntington's--'must' reading in Congress, the Pentagon and among Washington's columnists and think-tankers."

—Business Times

Anyone who wants to understand why America has permanently entered a new era in international relations must read [this book].... Vividly written and thoroughly researched."

—Los Angeles Times



A monumental, groundbreaking work, that shows how technological and strategic revolutions have transformed the battlefield. 

Combining gripping narrative history with wide-ranging analysis, War Made New focuses on four revolutions in military affairs and describes how inventions ranging from gunpowder to GPS-guided air strikes have remade the field of battle and shaped the rise and fall of empires. 

War Made New begins with the Gunpowder Revolution and explains warfare's evolution from ritualistic, drawn-out engagements to much deadlier events, precipitating the rise of the modern nation-state. Boot next explores the triumph of steel and steam during the Industrial Revolution, showing how it powered the spread of European colonial empires. Moving into the twentieth century and the Second Industrial Revolution, Boot examines three critical clashes of World War II to illustrate how new technology such as the tank, radio, and airplane ushered in terrifying new forms of warfare and the rise of centralized, and even totalitarian, world powers. Finally, Boot focuses on the Gulf War, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the Iraq War, arguing that even as cutting-edge technologies have made America the greatest military power in world history, advanced communications systems have allowed decentralized, irregular, forces to become an increasingly significant threat.

"Refreshingly novel ... Mr. Boot is an insightful observer of the profession of arms. ... Mr. Boot takes a daringand successfultack in approaching his subject; rather than attempt to be exhaustively comprehensive, he treats battles like lily pads, jumping from one to the next in quick succession across the pond of history. ... Mr. Boot is a penetrating writer and thinker, and his opinions are influential in military circles. ... Brilliantly crafted history."

—Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales, The Wall Street Journal

"War Made New is a tour-de-force of warfare over the past half-millennium.... It is fast-paced and reads like a novel. Boot grabs the readers and causes him or her to turn the page to find out what happened next. This is not only essential reading for anyone who is a serious student of warfare, technology, and the like, but for anyone wanting to know what has made the world unfold the way it has over the past five centuries."

—Capt. George Galdorisi, U.S. Navy (Retired), Naval Institute Proceedings

"While much has been written in recent years about the so-called 'Revolution in Military Affairs,' Max Boot is the first scholar to place it within the broad sweep of history, and in the context of the rise of the West in world affairs since 1500. In so doing, he not only tells a remarkable tale, but he compels us all, even those obsessed solely with contemporary military affairs, to ask the right questions and to distinguish what is truly new and revolutionary from what is merely ephemeral. He has rendered a valuable service, and given us a fascinating read at the same time, so we are doubly in his debt."

—Paul Kennedy, Professor of History at Yale University and author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

"A fascinating look at the complicated relationship between warfare and technological development by a master historian."

—Barry Gewen, New York Times

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