“The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils and Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.” So said the poet William Blake, referring to the way, in John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” Satan steals the show.
Rick Perlstein, author of “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan,” is not a poet, but he is an excellent nonfiction writer. And while he knows that Ronald Reagan is nothing like the devil, he is not exactly in Reagan’s political camp. Yet when discussing Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Perlstein writes in fetters. As soon as Reagan appears, the author is at liberty, and his prose soars.