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This is possibly the single best book available on the Reagan presidency. Lou Cannon began reporting on Ronald Reagan as a journalist when Reagan first ran for governor of California in 1966, and then covered him again in Washington after his 1980 presidential election. In short, there is probably no man or woman who has spent more years writing about the Gipper than Cannon. The result is a magisterial account of Reagan's two terms in the White House. Cannon is broadly sympathetic to his subject, but also coolly detached. President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime pulled off the remarkable feat of winning praise from both Reagan's admirers and detractors when it was first published in 1991. This reissued edition, which includes a new preface describing Reagan's postpresidential descent into the abyss of Alzheimer's disease, must now be considered the standard text on the subject--especially in light of the controversy surrounding the book that aspired to Cannon's mantle, Edmund Morris's quasi biography Dutch.
Cannon's book is full of wise analysis and sound observation. He explains Reagan's success convincingly: "Optimism was not a trivial or peripheral quality. It was the essential ingredient of an approach to life.... [Reagan] had a knack of converting others to his optimism, almost as if he drew upon some private reservoir of self-esteem. People who listened to Reagan tended to feel good about him and better about themselves." Though the book bursts with detail, it's never so cumbersome that it bogs down Cannon's narrative. And these pages give only cursory attention to Reagan's life before the White House; this is more a biography of President Reagan than of Ronald Reagan. Conservatives who are defensive about Reagan's legacy may bristle at certain points; Cannon's portrait is not always a flattering one. Yet it's a compelling biography of a compelling man's most important years. It's possible to imagine that a fuller biography of Reagan will be written some day. Right now, however, this is the best there is--and it's very, very good. --John J. Miller
No journalist enjoys a closer working relationship with Ronald Reagan, his friends, and advisors than Cannon, who has covered the Reagan beat for a quarter of a century. Combining scores of interviews, including three with Reagan, with authoritative journalism, Cannon has written what may be the best contemporary political history of the Reagan years. Unlike most modern presidents whose frame of reference is analytical and political, Cannon reveals how Reagan was shaped by his acting career. Far from being a Hollywood refugee, Reagan is credited with reviving national confidence and not being the demagogue that his opponents perceived him to be. While Reagan succeeded at establishing the national agenda, numerous ethical scandals, the savings and loan debacle, and the unraveling of foreign policy proved the presidency to be beyond Reagan's abilities. Transcending the many self-serving kick-and-tell potboilers, Cannon's absorbing, informative account will be the basis for all future studies. Highly recommended for most public and academic libraries.
- Karl Helicher, Upper Marion Township Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If you truly despise Ronald Reagan, or if you believe that he is one of the greatest presidents in our country's history, you will probably be dissatisfied with this book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by James Yanni
Filled with great insight into the Reagan presidency and humorous stories stories about President Reagan. His wit and love of telling stories is endearing.Published 4 months ago by Luanne
Excellent. Gives insight into his personality and his decision-making . One gets the sensation of understanding his appeal to the voters. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Gerald W Buetow
This is a well written, subtle hit piece on Ronald Reagan. It's done in much the same way as the movie Iron Lady was done to besmirch Lady Thatcher. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Chuck Kueser
When I was looking for a book on Reagan, I settled on this one after learning from several reviews that Lou Cannon provided the most objective analysis of his time in office. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Eric
My political awakening occurred during Reagan's second term (a man I would have voted for in 1984 if I'd been old enough), and it was jarring. Read morePublished 22 months ago by TLR
It is obvious from reading the comment section that the only reason this work doesn't have 4 or 5 stars is due to the ignorant Conservatives who thought Reagan could do no wrong... Read morePublished on June 29, 2013 by Michael Allen Potter
If you would like to know what really happened in the White House during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, Lou Cannon offers up truth about what kind of president this man was. Read morePublished on February 8, 2013 by CDP and his Amazon Habit of purchases! !
Great product, the service was right on time and I greatly appreciated how the product was as it was advertisedPublished on February 7, 2013 by Christopher Landry