By Vanessa V. Friedman
Updated March 04, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

RONALD REAGAN IN HOLLYWOOD Stephen Vaughn (Cambridge University Press, $24.95) Five years after Ronald Reagan’s second term, it is generally accepted that many of the Great Communicator’s skills were actually serendipitous byproducts of his stint as a contract player for Warner Bros. Less discussed were his days as an industry spokesman and propagandist, as well as his position as president of the Screen Actors Guild. These experiences, this book argues, formed many of Reagan’s later political positions, particularly on the Red Menace (his time with SAG coincided with the McCarthy hearings, and he cooperated with a government investigation of subversive forces in Hollywood). Vaughn, a professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin, makes his point quite successfully, but the point itself is academic, as is the book; it reads like a dissertation. C+ -Vanessa V. Friedman