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Ronald Reagan

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In this short biography, Michael Schaller, acclaimed historian of the American political right, offers readers a poignant account of Ronald Reagan's life and achievements, from his small-town upbringing in rural Illinois to his cinematic success in Hollywood, entry into politics as governor of California, and meteoric rise to the White House, where he served for eight In this short biography, Michael Schaller, acclaimed historian of the American political right, offers readers a poignant account of Ronald Reagan's life and achievements, from his small-town upbringing in rural Illinois to his cinematic success in Hollywood, entry into politics as governor of California, and meteoric rise to the White House, where he served for eight years. The polarizing Great Communicator oversaw many developments that changed the face of American politics and life-the Iran-Contra Affair, the establishment of "Reaganomics," the largest military buildup in peacetime US history--and as such remains a figure about whom much is written and much has yet to be discovered. Schaller revisits each of these episodes during and leading up to the Reagan presidency, taking into account the latest scholarship and research. In doing so, he makes clear their significance at the time and in later years. While most presidential biographies approach 1,000 pages, this succinct narrative comes in at just over 100 pages, continuing the tradition of excellence in brevity established by James McPherson's New York Times bestseller Abraham Lincoln and Alan Brinkley's recent short biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Schaller's biography of Ronald Reagan will be available in time to commemorate the centennial of Reagan's birth, an opportune time to reflect on the accomplishments of America's fortieth president.


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In this short biography, Michael Schaller, acclaimed historian of the American political right, offers readers a poignant account of Ronald Reagan's life and achievements, from his small-town upbringing in rural Illinois to his cinematic success in Hollywood, entry into politics as governor of California, and meteoric rise to the White House, where he served for eight In this short biography, Michael Schaller, acclaimed historian of the American political right, offers readers a poignant account of Ronald Reagan's life and achievements, from his small-town upbringing in rural Illinois to his cinematic success in Hollywood, entry into politics as governor of California, and meteoric rise to the White House, where he served for eight years. The polarizing Great Communicator oversaw many developments that changed the face of American politics and life-the Iran-Contra Affair, the establishment of "Reaganomics," the largest military buildup in peacetime US history--and as such remains a figure about whom much is written and much has yet to be discovered. Schaller revisits each of these episodes during and leading up to the Reagan presidency, taking into account the latest scholarship and research. In doing so, he makes clear their significance at the time and in later years. While most presidential biographies approach 1,000 pages, this succinct narrative comes in at just over 100 pages, continuing the tradition of excellence in brevity established by James McPherson's New York Times bestseller Abraham Lincoln and Alan Brinkley's recent short biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Schaller's biography of Ronald Reagan will be available in time to commemorate the centennial of Reagan's birth, an opportune time to reflect on the accomplishments of America's fortieth president.

30 review for Ronald Reagan

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    On a whim I decided to read this book that had been sitting on my shelf for years. Figured it was president's day weekend and all, why not read a presidential biography. And one that was 100 pages seemed like a good place to start. Obviously, that 100 pages means it is really just a brief overview of his life and career rather than any sort of in depth analysis. And while Schaller isn't exactly outright hostile to Reagan and conservatism he is deeply cynical about what he sees as the gap between On a whim I decided to read this book that had been sitting on my shelf for years. Figured it was president's day weekend and all, why not read a presidential biography. And one that was 100 pages seemed like a good place to start. Obviously, that 100 pages means it is really just a brief overview of his life and career rather than any sort of in depth analysis. And while Schaller isn't exactly outright hostile to Reagan and conservatism he is deeply cynical about what he sees as the gap between Reagan's rhetoric and reality. He also never seems to question the effectiveness of government programs. Any cuts are understood to hurt the least needy and any success in the economy is viewed as helping rich fat cats rather than the average person. What Schaller argues is that Reagan made a deep connection with the American people thanks to his talents as an actor and a communicator combined with his optimistic and confident focus on the greatness of America. His focus on a few big things also helped him make that connection. Schaller also notes that Reagan was a great deal more flexible than his conservative supporters recognized or probably would have liked. From taxes and the size of government to foreign policy Reagan compromised when he believed it furthered his long term goals. This short work strikes me as a sort of perfect encapsulation of the mainstream liberal view of Reagan. A man who used his unique skills to great heights but whose underlying beliefs and policies belied his sunny demeanor and rhetoric. If you are looking for a biography that takes Reagan's ideas and policies seriously you will need to look elsewhere. But this one does provide a useful outline of the major issues and events of Reagan's life and gives readers a good place to start.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi D.

    A fast read and short biography of Ronald Reagan. Just the facts neither pro or anti Reagan. A rather pleasant and informative read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kaleb

    While I enjoyed the book it was probably my least favorite I have read thus far of the presidents. I don't know if it was just a biased book but I really didn't like a lot of the policies and legacy that Ronald Reagan had/left. I will have to further look into other books to confirm. I enjoyed the length and the broad overview of the administration.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Philipp Hartmann

    Very nice book illustrating the ups and down of one of the most popular and controversial presidents in US history in a concise manner.

  5. 5 out of 5

    robin friedman

    A Short Biography Of Ronald Reagan After reading Thomas Mallon's largely disappointing novel "Finale" about Ronald Reagan, I was moved to revisit our fortieth president through non-fiction. I also became interested in thinking more about Reagan through reflection on our current presidential contest and on what, if anything, his life and presidency might teach us. I also wanted something brief, and I found Michael Schaller's 2010 biography, "Ronald Reagan" to help satisfy my interest. Schaller, A Short Biography Of Ronald Reagan After reading Thomas Mallon's largely disappointing novel "Finale" about Ronald Reagan, I was moved to revisit our fortieth president through non-fiction. I also became interested in thinking more about Reagan through reflection on our current presidential contest and on what, if anything, his life and presidency might teach us. I also wanted something brief, and I found Michael Schaller's 2010 biography, "Ronald Reagan" to help satisfy my interest. Schaller, Regents Professor of History at the University of Arizona, is a scholar of 20th Century American history and foreign policy. Everyone who knew or studied Reagan observed how difficult he was to get to know. His exterior friendliness concealed interior reserve which his friends took for depth and his enemies for vacuity. The same kinds of widely divergent views might be applied to Reagan's presidency. Schaller's book offers a clearly-written, concise picture of Reagan which recognizes the ambiguities in his life and presidency and perhaps wisely does not attempt to probe deeply below the surface. The book presents an integrated portrait of Reagan by tying in characteristics from his early years in Illinois and his years as an actor in Hollywood with the traits he displayed as politician and president. He finds Reagan showed a strong degree of likeability together with a gift for cutting to the heart of complex issues in few words. Reagan also realized the value to leadership of inspiration and ideals while sometimes micro-management and factual analysis to subordinates. He tended to portray issues simply and positively. Schaller also finds a tendency to play loosely with facts and a tendency to passivity and to blame others, both in Reagan's private and public life. The book shows well that Reagan was not the buffoon or extremist portrayed by his enemies but was instead an informed politician with a strong sense of what he was about. In considering Reagan's presidency, Schaller finds it strong on ideals and inspiration but questionable in the way of specific accomplishment. He points to how Reagan raised the national debt, modestly improved the economy, and created through deregulation the savings and loan crisis, among other issues in his domestic policy. He argues that Reagan's War on Drugs was a failure, and that Reagan failed to stem what he viewed as the unfortunate tide in the nature of sexual mores. In foreign policy, Schaller discusses the Iran Contra scandal, which led to the possibility of impeachment, and the eventual rapprochement between Reagan and Gorbachev which signaled the break-up of the USSR and the end of the Cold War. Questions remain, as Schaller notes, about the extent to which Reagan's policies led to the thaw or contributed to the USSR's demise. There is a large literature about the 1980s and about Reagan's presidency. Schaller's book offers a good annotated bibliography of both primary and secondary sources for readers wanting different perspectives or fuller accounts. Subsequent to this book, in 2016, Jacob Weisberg's short biography has been published as part of the American Presidents series. Ronald Reagan: The American Presidents Series: The 40th President, 1981-1989 which has received several perceptive reviews on Amazon. While recognizing Reagan's strengths, Weisburg's book also takes a critical approach. Schaller offers a fair-minded but skeptical assessment of Reagan. He does not share Reagan's conservatism, but he makes an attempt to understand and appreciate what Reagan did. I don't think Schaller values as highly as it deserves the inspirational aspects of Reagan's leadership in encouraging Americans to approach issues in a positive, hopeful way with the view that the United States could remain a force for good in the world. Schaller discusses how after Reagan's presidency in 1994 he wrote a letter to the American people indicating that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Although Reagan wrote that he was passing into the "sunset of my life" he observed that there would always be a "bright dawn ahead" for America. It is this simple hope and vision that stays with me as I think about Ronald Reagan. Robin Friedman

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fred Kohn

    Short and to the point. Does not gloss over Reagan's faults nor downplay his accomplishments. If you want to read just one biography of Ronald Reagan and don't have much time, this is a good way to go.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Yoak

    I'm hard-pressed to describe what put me off about this book. Perhaps it was a trivializing tone. Despite great interest in the topic, I just found reading the book almost immediately, viscerally unpleasant.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Not too much to say here, given that this was more like a pamphlet on Ronald Reagan. It can't pretend to be in-depth when it's only 105 pages. But, if you want a distilled version of his presidency with all the "highlights" touched upon, then this should do the trick.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Maxon

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jon

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pete

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chip

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anton Manyak

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  16. 4 out of 5

    Olive

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ssef Ab

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nate Craig

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tom Elmore

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Orlicky

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ben Herb

  22. 5 out of 5

    Franklin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lewis Mann

  25. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Clenin

  26. 4 out of 5

    Travis

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hilary B

  30. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

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