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Drawing heavily on the former president's diaries and a raft of memoirs by insiders, author H.W. Brands' "Reagan: The Life" tells its story briskly, punctuated by doses of well-tempered historical context, occasional and always gentle corrections of Reagan’s flawed representations, and a dash of analysis.

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Wielding its increasing market leverage, China is now countering our First Amendment ethos with a push for what L.A. Times reporter Ben Fritz calls pervasive "self-censorship."

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A survey released Friday showed that U.S. consumer confidence has fallen to the lowest point since the "stagflation" of the early 1980s. According to the survey, lower-income households, citing rising food and fuel prices, were the main source of the drop in confidence.

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