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on July 22, 1998
As a generation Xer, my growing-up years were the 80's, and this book helped me put all the things I'd heard one the news as a youngster into perspective. It's neat getting the history from one of the people who were making history at the time, such as the president. They have a unique view and insight into the events of the time. What I also liked is how Ronald Reagan presented his life story and how it led to his presidency, and the philosophies his parents tought him about life and politics. Again, another great insight into the man. I came out feeling what a humble leader he was, and though he made mistakes, he always wanted what was best for the people of this country who he was serving.
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on December 9, 2000
In 725 pages Mr. Reagan tells a story of growing up in small town America from humble beginnings thru the presidency. The chapters are relatively short, each one an interesting story and written in a very readable style. This was a page turner for me and I could hardly stop reading. This book is all the more valuable as an autobiography, as Mr. Reagan's present illness set-in shortly after the end of his Presidency so we will likey not to be able to read any further works written by him. He discusses subjects from early politices, the California governorship and affairs of state during his presidency, his meetings with Mr. Gorbachev and its impact on the fall of Communisum in Russian, the tearing down of the Berlin wall and much more. Few people doubt that Mr. Ronald Reagan was indeed a great president, probably one of our greatest. This book will help you understand the man.
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on June 11, 2004
This is the definitive book by and about a truly great leader, and a great man. Ronald Reagan came to office at a time when America desperately need a man of his strength and character. After a decade of downturn - particularly the Carter malaise years, Reagan renewed our faith in ourselves and our nation. Today's conservatives - especially our so-called "leaders" - need to read this book.
Ronald Wilson Reagan - Ronaldus Magnus - will be missed, and we may never see his like again.
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on February 16, 2007
My first vote in a presidential election was for Ronald Wilson Reagan. I was a freshman in college and quickly coming to grips with my political philosophy and world view, when this idealistic, bright ray of sunshine declared it was "morning in America." Having remembered all to well the horrors of Watergate, the tepid Ford presidency, and the...well...you fill in your own perjorative for Jimmy Carter's presidency, Mr. Reagan, for me at least, was a breath of fresh air.

If you are looking for pure history of the Reagan years, the works of Lou Cannon and Richard Reeves will provide more objective views; i.e. the type of stuff political junkies like myself love to chew on. However, if you are looking for a first person account of a uniquely American story, this memoir will both uplift and inspire.

This book is quintessential Reagan. Missing is the self-adulatory, self-promoting tripe you read in autobiographies. Also, although he was bitterly opposed by "The Establishment," the literati, Hollywood, socialists, communists and the like, there is not an ounce of rancor to be found.

An American Life, despite the fact that it is 700+ pages, is a quick and fairly easy read. In order to obtain a full view of his presidency, I not only recommend this work, and the aforementioned volumes, but also the book that is the compilation of his letters. Far from being the "amiable dunce," you'll discover that "Dutch" was a unique and complex man and we are a better country for having him a part of the body politic for as long as we did.
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VINE VOICEon February 16, 2006
The Great Communicator has done it again! "An American Life" takes the reader from his birth in Tampico, Illinois to the return to California with mission accomplished. Ronald Reagan earned the moniker "The Great Communicator" for his ability to reach an audience. "An American Life" proves that he could do it in ink too. His writing is direct, easy to follow and engaging. The theme of the book is the optimistic world view of the Reagan we knew. There is little introspection. Reagan knew what he believed and told it with gusto! Many of the stories are ones with which we are familiar. This book is the Gipper's exposition of his belief in family values and the individual. The readers are drawn into the issues which defined the Reagan Administration.

As a frequent traveler in Reagan's native region in Northern Illinois, I found the narratives of his youth in Galesburg and Dixon and his years at Eureka College to be particularly interesting. The reader follows Reagan to Iowa and on to California. The sections on Reagan's years in Hollywood give the reader an insight into the movie world. The chapters on Reagan's involvement with the Screen Actors' Guild focus on his opposition to Communist domination of the industry.

Reagan's years in California politics are related with may of the stories we have heard, such as the student protesters who entered his office to tell him that his generation could not understand them because he did not grow up with the modern conveniences, to which he replied that his generation had invented them.

Reagan tells of his conversion, which began with the General Electric tour in the 1950s, from a liberal Democrat to a conservative Republican and from a reluctant candidate to an enthusiastic agent of destiny. From a reluctant governor, Reagan matured to a candidate who sought the presidency, not to be somebody, but to do something.

In the sections on his presidential years, Reagan goes through the issues, such as tax reductions, the military buildup, Supreme Court appointments, Middle Eastern diplomacy and Soviet relations. The exhilaration of the return of hostages contrasts with the pain of the return of bodies and disasters, such as the Challenger. Reagan's dealings with the Soviets pulled his car up and down the roller coaster of emotions.

On these pages we are made privy to turning points, such as his refusal to run for vice-president in 1976, Ford's refusal to run for veep in 1980, and the considerations involved in decisions dealing with SDI. His relationship with Margaret Thatcher is seen as one of the crucial partnerships of the Twentieth Century.

"An American Life" lacks the analysis of Dinesh D'Souza's "Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became An Extraordinary Leader" (see my amazon review), but in it the Gipper tells his story. D'Souza says that an ordinary man became an extraordinary leader. In "An American Life" an ordinary man has written an extraordinary book.
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on January 10, 2007
A very good book. Contains much history which either wasn't or couldn't be reported at the time it was happening. Although it is over 700 pages, it was a good and enjoyable book.
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on June 3, 2010
Ronald Reagan was one of the most remarkable American presidents since WW2 - alas, very underestimated in Norwegian media during his presidential years, despite favourable comments in some influential newspapers.Of course, he was controversial - like eg FDR and Richard Nixon. His conservative approach certainly did not endear him to left-wing political supporters.

His book is very interesting and readable. He was an a actor and a politician, and in this book we meet both - and his story about his experience in both areas is compelling. I knew he was a clever orator, but here I discover that he was a good writer, too. The description of the meetings with Mr Gorbachev is one of the most interesting parts of the book. There are also some personal accounts with a considerable sense of humour.

How honest is this book? A matter of opinion, of course. But more honest than many other political autbiographies, in my opinion!
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on June 12, 2004
this is an awesome book on the life of this great man who was one of the greatest presidents of the usa and a world leader.it is really disgusting to see some mentally sick one star reviewers on this page who are obsessed with insulting the memory of this great man .please ignore all the mean one star reviews on this page and read this book which gives us an insight about his life.may his great soul rest in eternal peace.
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on July 21, 2004
One of the greatest men who lived during my lifetime is Ronald Reagan. No matter your political perspective, Reagan was inarguably one of the most effective and influential leaders in American history. It would be difficult do such a life real justice in a book, especially while that life was still being lived. The best biographies usually are written with the benefit of many years of hindsight and analysis.

This book was written by Reagan himself soon after he left office, and it is an excellent book. Many biographies have been written about Reagan and many more will follow. Even so, I believe that "An American Life" will stand the test of time for students of Reagan as a source of entertaining education.

Reagan was quite a prolific writer to friends, family, leaders, etc. The friendly voice of his letters comes out in this book as a letter to the reader. Though it is less detailed than other Presidential memoirs, it is quite thorough in scope. The friendly tone, occasional wit that Reagan was loved for, and the passion the author has for his subject gives this book life that few political books achieve. It is not only his life story, it is an apologetic work for conservativism, a treatise for Supply-side Economics, and a personal perspective on spirituality and the grace of Providence.

I first listened to the audiobook and was disappointed with how much was left out in the abridgement. But after reading the unabridged book, I have placed it on my shelf of books to be re-read occasionally. The audiobook is good for a long car trip, but for serious students the book is excellent to grasp Reagan's perspective of history. For policy wonks and detail fanatics, this book will leave much to be desired, since Reagan was more of a big-picture kind of guy. But overall, the book is worth several reads.
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on November 26, 2006
Apart from the first few chapters about his own path to success, the book's an introductory history lesson on the u.s. and international political scene of the 80's. Easy to understand. Reagan explained very clearly on his ratinales behind the things he did. It was like listening to a wise old man telling his story. His international policies, as indicated in the book, made far reaching impacts on the development of world events then and afterwards. A great read. The book lets me understand this great man more and made me remember him more.
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