October 26, 1987 12:00 PM

by Dinesh D’Souza and Gregory Fossedal

Here’s a book that reduces many of the issues of Ronald Reagan’s first term in office to 114 clever pages of political satire. Patterned after C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, it presents correspondence from a Soviet propaganda specialist, similar to those garrulous spokesmen seen on Nightline, to a junior official. The young man, Alex, is a student of propaganda and a former editorial intern at Pravda; Vladimir is the mentor charged with teaching Alex how to influence American political sentiment. Their job is to promote “corrosion within the body of the enemy.” For starters, Vladimir tells Alex that Americans have “internalized” contradictions: “Ted Kennedy blasts tuition tax credits, but sends his children to the best private schools.” Then, in an April 1981 letter, Vladimir advises Alex not to refute supply-side economics. “Simply call it a ‘theology’ which is ‘pretty simplistic.’ ” Among journalists, Ted Koppel is given begrudging praise. “Koppel is, unfortunately, a fairly objective journalist, and a scathing interviewer,” says Vladimir. “I have had my own difficult moments with him.” A few moments in this book are overburdened by details. This is done one assumes to clarify the propaganda targets, which include the Grenada invasion, the Korean jetliner crisis and star wars. D’Souza is the managing editor of Policy Review, Fossedal a contributing editor of Harper’s, so readers who are not aficionados of political journalism may miss some of the in jokes. The knockout punch that Reagan’s re-election delivers is still a satisfying, if obviously predictable, ending for a volume that brings written political satire in from the cold. (Regnery, $14.95)

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