Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan

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Random House Publishing Group, Oct 19, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 912 pages
4 Reviews

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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User Review  - librisissimo - LibraryThing

I assume (with no good reason) that Morris is citing his sources accurately, but he seems to delight in presenting Reagan in a negative fashion. Note that Morris makes himself a character in the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jmcclain19 - LibraryThing

This book is quite the oddball. I decided to read it after Reagan's passing, hoping to learn more about a President that served two terms in my lifetime yet I was too young to know anything about ... Read full review

Contents

The Land of Lost Things
7
A Dark Form Half Hidden in the Snow
24
A World Elsewhere
44
Chimes at Midnight
64
Air and Water
77
A Review
92
Long Blue Shadows
108
Inside Story
135
The Ripple Effect
386
Back into the Iron Vest
434
44
441
Huge Cloudy Symbols of a High Romance
469
3 Physicians of Memory
508
Almost Air Force One
540
One on One
551
Explosions
576

Love Is on the
144
On the Beach with Ronnie and Jane
150
A Lonely Impulse of Delight
168
The End of the Beginning
180
Celluloid Commandos
196
The Regeneration of the World
218
A Dialogue
235
Four Short Scenarios
249
A Letter
260
And Then Along Came Nancy
277
The Unexplored Mystery of Ploughed Ground
284
11
295
A Studio Interview 1954
298
24
311
Reagan Country
345
A SixtyYearOld Smiling Public Man
380
The Beginning of the End
589
Album Leaves 19871988
617
The Shining City
641
Epilogue
655
Appendix
673
A cknowledgmen ts 6 75
679
64
696
92
703
18
713
144
807
Illustrations
839
150
844
180
852
196
860
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Edmund Morris was born in Kenya and educated at the Prince of Wales School, Nairobi, and Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. He worked as an advertising copywriter in London before emigrating to the United States in 1968. His biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1980. In 1985 he was appointed Ronald Reagan's authorized biographer. He has written extensively on travel and the arts for such publications as The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper's, and The Washington Post. The second volume of his Roosevelt biography, Theodore Rex, is currently under way, and will be followed by a third. Edmund Morris lives in New York and Washington, D.C., with his wife and fellow biographer, Sylvia Jukes Morris.


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