Reagan
From New York Times bestselling biographer Bob Spitz, a full and rich biography of an epic American life, capturing what made Ronald Reagan both so beloved and so transformational.More than five years in the making, based on hundreds of interviews and access to previously unavailable documents, and infused with irresistible storytelling charm, Bob Spitz's Reagan stands fair to be the first truly post-partisan biography of our 40th President, and thus a balm for our own bitterly divided times.It is the quintessential American triumph, brought to life with cinematic vividness: a young man is born into poverty and raised in a series of flyspeck towns in the Midwest by a pious mother and a reckless, alcoholic, largely absent father. Severely near-sighted, the boy lives in his own world, a world of the popular books of the day, and finds his first brush with popularity, even fame, as a young lifeguard. Thanks to his first great love, he imagines a way out, and makes the extraordinary leap to go to college, a modest school by national standards, but an audacious presumption in the context of his family's station. From there, the path is only very dimly lit, but it leads him, thanks to his great charm and greater luck, to a solid career as a radio sportscaster, and then, astonishingly, fatefully, to Hollywood. And the rest, as they say, is history.Bob Spitz's Reagan is an absorbing, richly detailed, even revelatory chronicle of the full arc of Ronald Reagan's epic life - giving full weight to the Hollywood years, his transition to politics and rocky but ultimately successful run as California governor, and ultimately, of course, his iconic presidency, filled with storm and stress but climaxing with his peace talks with the Soviet Union that would serve as his greatest legacy. It is filled with fresh assessments and shrewd judgments, and doesn't flinch from a full reckoning with the man's strengths and limitations. This is no hagiography: Reagan was never a brilliant student, of anything, and his disinterest in hard-nosed political scheming, while admirable, meant that this side of things was left to the other people in his orbit, not least his wife Nancy; sometimes this delegation could lead to chaos, and worse. But what emerges as a powerful signal through all the noise is an honest inherent sweetness, a gentleness of nature and willingness to see the good in people and in this country, that proved to be a tonic for America in his time, and still is in ours. It was famously said that FDR had a first-rate disposition and a second-rate intellect. Perhaps it is no accident that only FDR had as high a public approval rating leaving office as Reagan did, or that in the years since Reagan has been closing in on FDR on rankings of Presidential greatness. Written with love and irony, which in a great biography is arguably the same thing, Bob Spitz's masterpiece will give no comfort to partisans at either extreme; for the rest of us, it is cause for celebration.

Reagan Details

TitleReagan
Author
ReleaseOct 2nd, 2018
PublisherPenguin
ISBN-139781594205316
Rating
GenreBiography, History, Nonfiction, North American Hi..., American History

Reagan Review

  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    Spitz has provided us with really the definitive biography of Reagan, the man. The book is carefully researched, thorough, and painstakingly filled with detail. Especially of note are the chapters about Reagan’s early formative years in the small prairie towns, working as a lifeguard, struggling to pay his own way through college, reinventing himself as a sports commentator on the radio, and on to his years in Hollywood where he was thought to be the next great leading man, his storybook marriag Spitz has provided us with really the definitive biography of Reagan, the man. The book is carefully researched, thorough, and painstakingly filled with detail. Especially of note are the chapters about Reagan’s early formative years in the small prairie towns, working as a lifeguard, struggling to pay his own way through college, reinventing himself as a sports commentator on the radio, and on to his years in Hollywood where he was thought to be the next great leading man, his storybook marriage to Jane Wyman which ended in divorce, his years in the Screen Actors Guild, etc. It’s always interesting to hear about an important figure’s formative years and what made them grow into who they eventually became. If there is any fault with this book, it’s that there is so much detail about everything, that it is not light easy reading.Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
    more
  • Lee Woodruff
    January 1, 1970
    The accomplished and talented author of the best-selling Julia Child biography “Dearie,” turns his attention to detail and story-telling skills to the subject of Ronald “Dutch” Reagan. Conducting exhaustive interviews over a five-year period and with access to previous unavailable documents, Spitz paints a detailed picture of one of America’s most iconic presidents with a writing style that feels more like novel than non-fiction. He deftly moves us through time with detailed descriptions, taking The accomplished and talented author of the best-selling Julia Child biography “Dearie,” turns his attention to detail and story-telling skills to the subject of Ronald “Dutch” Reagan. Conducting exhaustive interviews over a five-year period and with access to previous unavailable documents, Spitz paints a detailed picture of one of America’s most iconic presidents with a writing style that feels more like novel than non-fiction. He deftly moves us through time with detailed descriptions, taking us from "Dutch's" hardscrabble early days with a drunken and often unemployed father to his beginnings as a local radio announcer. Vivid scenes and dialogue move us through Hollywood and his first marriage, to meeting Nancy, Reagan's growing interest in politics and then the ultimate prize-- president of the most powerful nation in the world. Spitz writes movingly about Reagan's courageous announcement of his Alzheimer's diagnosis at the end of his life. At a time in politics where the world feels cleaved into extremes, this poignant and well-written book is a reminder that great statesman can often transcend bi-partisan ship and lead.
    more
  • Chad King
    January 1, 1970
    Love him or hate him, Reagan left an indelible mark on America and his legacy continues to reverberate nearly 40 years after he won the US Presidency. Spitz digs deep for this biography, and does an exceptional job of describing Reagan the boy, Reagan the actor, Reagan the husband, Reagan the politician, and Reagan the declining octogenarian. Above all, Reagan was a great communicator, and Spitz describes how that skill served him throughout his life.The book is neither a hit piece nor a fawning Love him or hate him, Reagan left an indelible mark on America and his legacy continues to reverberate nearly 40 years after he won the US Presidency. Spitz digs deep for this biography, and does an exceptional job of describing Reagan the boy, Reagan the actor, Reagan the husband, Reagan the politician, and Reagan the declining octogenarian. Above all, Reagan was a great communicator, and Spitz describes how that skill served him throughout his life.The book is neither a hit piece nor a fawning work of fanboy fiction. Instead, Spitz seeks to show Reagan as he really was -- a man gifted with a magnetic personality but not with particularly keen intellect or organizational skills. Reagan was a big-picture person who loved people and relished the spotlight, but he sometimes stumbled because he couldn't (or wouldn't) grasp the details. This weakness is what was often behind his largest failures -- his failed marriage to Jane Wyman (he couldn't understand that he talked too much), his scandal-plagued Cabinet (he was loyal to a fault, and overlooked misconduct), his failure to treat AIDS as a serious disease (he didn't even try to understand the disease until after his presidency ended), and his most memorable albatross: the Iran-Contra Affair.Overall this is a well-researched and superbly-written biography of a fascinating man. Regardless of your political viewpoint, this book will help you better understand a leader who had a deep and lasting impact on the American political landscape and culture.5 out of 5 stars.
    more
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Yes, I read another Ronald Reagan biography. This one had a lot of insights I hadn't read before, particularly from Reagan's White House aides, which would have been interesting if I liked reading about office politics and personality conflicts. This biographer stuck to the facts and gave very little opinion, which was okay I guess. But I've read so many of these by now that I like to get the author's opinion. My favorite Reagan biography is still Iwan Morgan's because he wasn't afraid to praise Yes, I read another Ronald Reagan biography. This one had a lot of insights I hadn't read before, particularly from Reagan's White House aides, which would have been interesting if I liked reading about office politics and personality conflicts. This biographer stuck to the facts and gave very little opinion, which was okay I guess. But I've read so many of these by now that I like to get the author's opinion. My favorite Reagan biography is still Iwan Morgan's because he wasn't afraid to praise the good and condemn the bad.
    more
  • PWRL
    January 1, 1970
    SM
Write a review