Reagan's America: Innocents at Home

Open Road Media
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New York Times Bestseller: A “remarkable and evenhanded study of Ronald Reagan” from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Lincoln at Gettysburg (The New York Times).

Updated with a new preface by the author, this captivating biography of America’s fortieth president recounts Ronald Reagan’s life—from his poverty-stricken Illinois childhood to his acting career to his California governorship to his role as commander in chief—and examines the powerful myths surrounding him, many of which he created himself.
 
Praised by some for his sunny optimism and old-fashioned rugged individualism, derided by others for being a politician out of touch with reality, Reagan was both a popular and polarizing figure in the 1980s United States, and continues to fascinate us as a symbol. In Reagan’s America, Garry Wills reveals the realities behind Reagan’s own descriptions of his idyllic boyhood, as well as the story behind his leadership of the Screen Actors Guild, the role religion played in his thinking, and the facts of his military service.
 
With a wide-ranging and balanced assessment of both the personal and political life of this outsize American icon, the author of such acclaimed works as What Jesus Meant and The Kennedy Imprisonment “elegantly dissects the first U.S. President to come out of Hollywood’s dream factory [in] a fascinating biography whose impact is enhanced by techniques of psychological profile and social history” (Los Angeles Times).

 
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About the author

Garry Wills is a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and the author of more than forty books, including New York Times bestsellers Reagan’s America (1987), Lincoln at Gettysburg (1992), Papal Sin (2000), What Jesus Meant (2006), and Why Priests? (2013). A frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, Wills is professor of history emeritus at Northwestern University. He is a two-time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and received the National Humanities Medal in 1998. Wills lives in Evanston, Illinois.
 
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road Media
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Published on
Jun 20, 2017
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Pages
590
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ISBN
9781504045414
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Presidents & Heads of State
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / American Government / Executive Branch
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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With a Foreword by Jon Meacham

New York Times bestselling biographer Craig Shirley charts Ronald Reagan’s astonishing rise from the ashes of his lost 1976 presidential bid to overwhelming victory in 1980. American conservatism—and the nation itself—would never be the same.

In 1976, when Ronald Reagan lost his second bid for the GOP presidential nomination (the first was in 1968), most observers believed his political career was over. Yet one year later, at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Reagan sounded like a new man. He introduced conservatives to a "New Republican Party"—one that looked beyond the traditional country club and corporate boardroom base to embrace "the man and woman in the factories . . . the farmer . . . the cop on the beat. Our party," Reagan said, "must be the party of the individual. It must not sell out the individual to cater to the group."

Reagan’s movement quickly spread, championed by emerging conservative leaders and influential think tanks. Meanwhile, for the first time in modern history, Reagan also began drawing young people to American conservatism.

But it was not only the former governor's political philosophy that was changing. A new man was emerging as well: The angry anticommunist was evolving into a more reflective, thoughtful, hopeful, and more spiritual leader. Championing the individual at home, rejecting containment and détente abroad, and advocating for the defeat of Soviet communism, his appeal crossed party lines.

At a time when conservatives are seeking to redefine their identity in light of the Donald Trump phenomenon, Reagan Rising offers insight into the development of Reagan’s optimistic and unifying philosophy, and offers lessons for both established Republican leaders as well as emerging hopefuls.

“A brilliant full-length portrait of Franklin Roosevelt the politician”—the first in an award-winning two-volume biography (The Christian Science Monitor).

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the longest serving president in United States history, reshaping the country during the crises of the Great Depression and World War II. But before his ascension to the presidency, FDR laid the groundwork for his unprecedented run with decades of canny political maneuvering and steady consolidation of power.
 
In this remarkable New York Times–bestselling biography, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian James MacGregor Burns traces FDR’s rise and the peculiar blend of strength and cunning that made him such a uniquely transformative figure. Weaving together lively narrative and impressive scholarship, Burns reconstructs his youth and education at Groton and Harvard, his relationships with his cousins Theodore and Eleanor, his immersion in New York State politics, and his rise to national prominence, all the way through his first two terms as president, which saw the historic New Deal take hold and the drumbeats of World War II begin.
 
Originally published in 1956, The Lion and the Fox was among the first studies of Roosevelt—and it remains a landmark record of his ambitions, talents, and flaws. Hailed by the New York Times as “a sensitive, shrewd, and challenging book” and by Newsweek as “a case study unmatched in American political writings,” Burns’s stunning achievement is the life story of a fascinating political figure.
  
It's been fifty years since JFK’s assassination and nearly twenty since Ronald Reagan disappeared from public life. While they never ran head-to-head, they developed their legacies in competing ways and those legacies battle each other even today. The story of one illuminates the other, and explains our expectations for the presidency and whom we elect. Even though one is the model Democrat and the other the model Republican, their appeal is now bipartisan. Republicans quote Kennedy to justify tax cuts or aggressive national defense; Democrats use Reagan’s pragmatism to shame Republicans into supporting tax increases and compromise.

     Partly a "comparative biography" that explores John F. Kennedy’s and Ronald Reagan’s contemporaneous lives from birth until 1960, Scott Farris's follow-up to his widely praised Almost President shows how the experiences, attitudes, and skills developed by each man later impacted his presidency. Farris also tackles the key issues--civil rights, foreign affairs, etc.--that impacted each man’s time in office. How did previous life experiences form their views on these issues, and how do their dealings around each issue compare and contrast? Bookended by an examination of their standing in public opinion and how that has influenced subsequent politicians, plus an exploration of how the assassination of Kennedy and attempted assassination of Reagan colored our memories, this book also shows how aides, friends and families of each man have burnished their reputations long after their presidencies ended.

Ronald Reagan’s autobiography is a work of major historical importance. Here, in his own words, is the story of his life—public and private—told in a book both frank and compellingly readable.

Few presidents have accomplished more, or been so effective in changing the direction of government in ways that are both fundamental and lasting, than Ronald Reagan. Certainly no president has more dramatically raised the American spirit, or done so much to restore national strength and self-confidence.

Here, then, is a truly American success story—a great and inspiring one. From modest beginnings as the son of a shoe salesman in Tampico, Illinois, Ronald Reagan achieved first a distinguished career in Hollywood and then, as governor of California and as president of the most powerful nation in the world, a career of public service unique in our history.

Ronald Reagan’s account of that rise is told here with all the uncompromising candor, modesty, and wit that made him perhaps the most able communicator ever to occupy the White House, and also with the sense of drama of a gifted natural storyteller.

He tells us, with warmth and pride, of his early years and of the elements that made him, in later life, a leader of such stubborn integrity, courage, and clear-minded optimism. Reading the account of this childhood, we understand how his parents, struggling to make ends meet despite family problems and the rigors of the Depression, shaped his belief in the virtues of American life—the need to help others, the desire to get ahead and to get things done, the deep trust in the basic goodness, values, and sense of justice of the American people—virtues that few presidents have expressed more eloquently than Ronald Reagan.

With absolute authority and a keen eye for the details and the anecdotes that humanize history, Ronald Reagan takes the reader behind the scenes of his extraordinary career, from his first political experiences as president of the Screen Actors Guild (including his first meeting with a beautiful young actress who was later to become Nancy Reagan) to such high points of his presidency as the November 1985 Geneva meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, during which Reagan invited the Soviet leader outside for a breath of fresh air and then took him off for a walk and a man-to-man chat, without aides, that set the course for arms reduction and charted the end of the Cold War.

Here he reveals what went on behind his decision to enter politics and run for the governorship of California, the speech nominating Barry Goldwater that first made Reagan a national political figure, his race for the presidency, his relations with the members of his own cabinet, and his frustrations with Congress.

He gives us the details of the great themes and dramatic crises of his eight years in office, from Lebanon to Grenada, from the struggle to achieve arms control to tax reform, from Iran-Contra to the visits abroad that did so much to reestablish the United States in the eyes of the world as a friendly and peaceful power. His narrative is full of insights, from the unseen dangers of Gorbachev’s first visit to the United States to Reagan’s own personal correspondence with major foreign leaders, as well as his innermost feelings about life in the White House, the assassination attempt, his family—and the enduring love between himself and Mrs. Reagan.

An American Life is a warm, richly detailed, and deeply human book, a brilliant self-portrait, a significant work of history.
This book, the only biography ever authorized by a sitting President--yet written with complete interpretive freedom--is as revolutionary in method as it is formidable in scholarship. When Ronald Reagan moved into the White House in 1981, one of his first literary guests was Edmund Morris, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Theodore Roosevelt. Morris developed a fascination for the genial yet inscrutable President and, after Reagan's landslide reelection in 1984, put aside the second volume of his life of Roosevelt to become an observing eye and ear at the White House.
 
During thirteen years of obsessive archival research and interviews with Reagan and his family, friends, admirers and enemies (the book's enormous dramatis personae includes such varied characters as Mikhail Gorbachev, Michelangelo Antonioni, Elie Wiesel, Mario Savio, François Mitterrand, Grant Wood, and Zippy the Pinhead), Morris lived what amounted to a doppelgänger life, studying the young "Dutch," the middle-aged "Ronnie," and the septuagenarian Chief Executive with a closeness and dispassion, not to mention alternations of amusement, horror,and amazed respect, unmatched by any other presidential biographer.

This almost Boswellian closeness led to a unique literary method whereby, in the earlier chapters of Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan, Morris's biographical mind becomes in effect another character in the narrative, recording long-ago events with the same eyewitness vividness (and absolute documentary fidelity) with which the author later describes the great dramas of Reagan's presidency, and the tragedy of a noble life now darkened by dementia.

"I quite understand," the author has remarked, "that readers will have to adjust, at first, to what amounts to a new biographical style. But the revelations of this style, which derive directly from Ronald Reagan's own way of looking at his life, are I think rewarding enough to convince them that one of the most interesting characters in recent American history looms here like a colossus."
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