Reagan: An American Journey

Reagan: An American Journey

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 fai...

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Title:Reagan: An American Journey
Author:Bob Spitz
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Reagan: An American Journey Reviews

  • Dave

    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.

  • Lee Woodruff

    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.

  • Chad King

    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.

  • Terence

    Unfortunately, it can be hard to find a Reagan biography that is unbiased but his one does a pretty good job of sharing the facts. Both positive and negative.

    Reagan clearly had a big heart and that was a great thing but also led him into some poor decisions.

    Unlike other biographies that just cover his time as president, this one covers his whole life and is better for it. I'd recommend this book.

  • Justin

    After reading several biographies of Reagan, this is definitely in the top tier.

    Spitz does an excellent job in describing Reagan’s rise from small town Illinois to the governorship of California. Spitz’s past biographies on the Beatles and Julia Child give him insight into how to cover Reagan’s Hollywood career. Spitz also sheds greater light unto Reagan’s early life than any biography I’ve previously read. Spitz’s descriptions of the 76 primary and the 1980 election are short but very good.

    Unfo

    After reading several biographies of Reagan, this is definitely in the top tier.

    Spitz does an excellent job in describing Reagan’s rise from small town Illinois to the governorship of California. Spitz’s past biographies on the Beatles and Julia Child give him insight into how to cover Reagan’s Hollywood career. Spitz also sheds greater light unto Reagan’s early life than any biography I’ve previously read. Spitz’s descriptions of the 76 primary and the 1980 election are short but very good.

    Unfortunately, Spitz does not cover Regan’s presidency as well. He barely covers much of Reagan’s domestic policies, and spends way too much of the 350 pages on the presidency building up Iran-Contra. Also, it is very easy to tell which of Reagan’s advisers talked to Spitz based on how favorably they are portrayed in the book (similar to a Bob Woodward book).

    I would rate the first half of the book 5 stars and the second half 3 stars. Better than any prior biographer, Spitz shows how Reagan came to be the man who made it to the White House. However, he doesn’t fully show how that man had a long lasting impact on America.

  • Marlan

    Good, thorough book, well written. Only critique was skipping over the positive economic triumphs in the 80s.

  • Lisa

    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.

  • PWRL

    SM

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