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Inside Reagan's NavyInside Reagan's Navy

The Pentagon Journals

Chase Untermeyer

Narrated by Chase Untermeyer

Available from Audible

Book published by Texas A&M University Press

While serving as an assistant to Vice President George H. W. Bush, Chase Untermeyer concluded that the only way to learn how the US government really works was to leave the silken cocoon of the White House and seek a position in one of the departments or agencies.

In March 1983, when offered an appointment as a deputy assistant secretary of the Navy, he jumped at the opportunity. After only a year as a “DASN,” he was named by President Ronald Reagan as assistant secretary for Manpower & Reserve Affairs, in charge of all personnel issues affecting nearly one million sailors and Marines and a third of a million civilian workers.

Inside Reagan’s Navy offers an engaging, up-close narrative of Untermeyer’s experiences in the Pentagon, interwoven with descriptions of events and people, humorous anecdotes, and telling quotations.

As in his earlier book, When Things Went Right: The Dawn of the Reagan-Bush Administration, Inside Reagan’s Navy paints a portrait of official Washington during the Reagan years, with its politics, parties, and personalities.

A diarist since the age of nine and later a journalist, CHASE UNTERMEYER began his service in Washington in January 1981 as executive assistant to Vice President Bush. Subsequently he was an assistant secretary for the US Navy, a senior White House aide to President George H. W. Bush, and director of the Voice of America. He would later serve President George W. Bush as US ambassador to Qatar. Now an international business consultant, he lives in Houston.

Chase Untermeyer went to Washington in 1981 to work for the new vice president, George Bush. He remained for the next twelve years, first as executive assistant to Vice President Bush, then as an Assistant Secretary of the Navy, senior White House aide to the first President Bush, and Director of the Voice of America. Now an international business consultant, he lives in Houston. He is also the author of When Things Went Right: The Dawn of the Reagan-Bush Administration and Inside Reagan’s Navy: The Pentagon Journals.


“Chase Untermeyer is a prolific diarist whose back-room view of the early days of the Reagan Administration, When Things Went Right, will long be a vital resource for casual readers and historians alike. Now, with Inside Reagan's Navy, he has extended the narrative to provide an invaluable look, from his perch as a deputy assistant secretary and assistant secretary of the Navy, at how the Department of Defense functioned in the last days of the Cold War. He provides fascinating vignettes about numerous individuals, especially John Lehman and Jim Webb, two of the most celebrated secretaries of the Navy in modern times. Anyone interested in the Reagan administration or in the modern Navy must read this book.”

—Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, author of Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present

“From the public administration perspective, the diary conveys so vividly and engagingly the cut & thrust of bureaucratic infighting, relations between civilians and military, relations between civil servants and political appointees, and relations between political appointees and elected officials. Really great. Practically a page-turner. I had trouble putting it down.”

—Mordecai Lee, PhD, Professor of Governmental Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

“Chase Untermeyer's diary account of his service in Ronald Reagan's Navy Department is a delight. As Assistant Secretary of the Navy, the same title held by Theodore Roosevelt at another dynamic period in Am naval history, Mr. Untermeyer took part in the expansion of the Navy which helped bring a peaceful end to the Cold War. Anyone interested in how the U.S. Government really works will find this account invaluable.”

—Robert Kagan, author of The World America Made and The Return of History and the End of Dreams.

Inside Reagan's Navy provides an exceptionally intimate picture of the Pentagon. Its ironic, often humorous, well-written and always frank style gives readers a ringside seat at the Reagan Administration Navy. More important, the book offers a keen observer's personal insight about the larger issue of how the business of governing actually works.”

—Seth Cropsey, former deputy undersecretary of the Navy; director of the Center for American Seapower at the Hudson Institute; and author of Mayday: The Decline of American Naval Supremacy.

“A lively view of not just Naval operations but Washington politics of the era, injecting a dose of humor into its social and political observations of his office and its interactions at the highest levels of government... with its blend of lively, personal encounters and political process, Inside Reagan’s Navy is a pick for any who would learn more about how the Navy works, is managed, and how it interacts with other government offices.”

Midwest Book Review

“A young appointee, Untermeyer gives an intimate look at the underbelly of the Pentagon’s bureaucracy and its personalities, policies, and politics. The journal entries deal with issues large and small and give the reader an appreciation of the variety of decisions made on a daily basis by leaders and the consequences, often unanticipated, that result.”


“ Based on his diaries and writings, these stories come to life in a revealing account perfect for any who would receive an insider's view of Pentagon politics and affairs.”

The Military Shelf

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University Press Audiobooks