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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Communicator Writes Too!, 17 Feb. 2006
By 
James Gallen (St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
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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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ronaldus Magnus, 16 July 2004
By 
Kurt A. Johnson (Marseilles, IL USA) - See all my reviews
In this 1990 autobiography, ex-President Ronald "Dutch" Reagan tells the story of his life, from his birth in Tampico, Illinois in 1911, to the end of his term as President of the United States in 1988. Moving along with a gentle humor and an unpretentious openness that endeared the "Gipper" to a nation, the book gives the reader a fascinating look into the real life of America's fortieth President.
I must admit that I am far from impartial when it comes to President Reagan. I came of age during the Carter malaise, and the advent of Ronald Reagan seemed like a complete rebirth of the country to my young mind. In this wonderful autobiography, Mr. Reagan takes you into his heart and mind, showing you the forces that formed him and the steps he took to form the world.
If you do not like President Reagan, then I am confident that you will not like this book - people rarely write autobiographies to expose startling and upsetting facts about themselves. But, if you are a fan of Ronaldus Magnus, then you will LOVE this book. I know I did. I highly recommend this book to everyone!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Man and a Great President, 23 May 2013
By 
H. S. Hallam "Sax Hallam" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: An American Life (Paperback)
This is an engaging autobiography and I could not put it down. It covers Ronald Regan's early life and achievements. His progressive development and education by experience. He is always portrayed as an actor who becomes President of the United States. The reality was that he had been involved in politics for many years and had been President of the Screen Actors Guild during a very difficult time with Communism in Hollywood. For eight years he was employed by General Electric to to tour their plants initially talking about Hollywood and General Electric Theater a weekly TV programme they sponsored. As time when on these talks became more focused on government than Hollywood. He continued to give speeches and Republican activities supporting Barry Goldwater. He had been approached by business men who wanted and would finance him to talk on national television. This was followed by the suggestion he stand for Governor of California and some years later as President of the United States. He was propelled into these positions rather than seeking them out. Nancy supported him throughout. His achievements in establishing a relationship with Gorbachov and finishing the cold war are immense. There was of course his special relationship with Margaret Thatcher. A good read.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The title says it all !, 26 Dec. 2000
By 
csf.25@virgin.net (Northern Ireland, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
'An American Life' charts the life and times of one of the most charismatic presidents of the 20th Century, Ronald Wilson Reagan. In this remarkable autobiography, Ronald Reagan presents a definitive personal account of his historic presidency. With uncompromising candour, modesty, and wit, he tells the story of his life, both public and private, from his early childhood up until his life after the White House.
He reveals the events that shaped his reluctant candidacy and the decision-making process that led to his first nomination; the unseen dangers of Gobachev's first visit to America; startling facts about top-secret meetings involving heads of state; his frustrations with Congress; and his relationships with the members of his Cabinet.
His narrative is full of new insights and often surprising revelations regarding his innermost feelings about life in the White House, the assassination attempt, his family - and the enduring love between him and his wife Nancy.
Overall, an outstanding book, and well worth a read for all those who are interested not only in Ronald Reagan.
God Bless Ronald, and God Bless America.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An autobiography filled with great stories, humour, love and warmth., 26 April 2015
By 
Musicfan (Somerset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: An American Life (Hardcover)
Reagan might have been a Hollywood star but he was so much more than that. He was the man who was Governor and led California from bankruptcy and he repeated the same when he was the president of the USA. It is a great story and a larger than life story told with humility, humour and warmth. He had confidence and belief in what he was doing was right. However, this is not just a political story but a love story as well. He clearly had a strong love for his second wife. Some of the tales a removing, some sad, some astonishing and some staggering. This a real page turner although I did tire a bit of the diary entries. This is a well written and highly readable book. It is one of the best autobiographies I have read. If you are interested in politics, whether you agree with his politics or not, it seems to me that this is a must read. Highly recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great book about a great President, 10 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: An American Life (Hardcover)
Loved this book, very easy to read, written with some of Ronald Reagan's famous humour. Lots of detail and stories of his time in the White House. He comes across as a humble, hard working man who believed in what he was doing. Anyone with an interest of that era, should read his book. Can't imagine what he would think if he saw the state of our world nowadays.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read, 29 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: An American Life (Hardcover)
I grew up in the 1980s. My teenage years cover most of Reagan's presidency, and I was brought up in a family that was instinctively against Reagan's agenda.

This said, I actually enjoyed the book. It looks at all aspects of this life (with a good chunk focusing on his pre-Presidential life, which was quite interesting), and after I read the book, I can see why they called Reagan the "Great Communicator." In short, the book was an interesting read.

Having said I found it a good read, It didn't necessarily change my view of Reagan's policies. I found myself thinking "Ah yes but have you thought about..." a fair bit, but he was more effective at explaining his views (compared to a lot of other politicians I've read in their autobiographies), which suggests I have have underestimated the man.

One thing Reagan did get me to think about, as I read the book, was the need to invest in the military. I'm aware there's a military-industrial complex, but the way his predecessors as President funded the armed forces, and the consequent level of morale made me think I'd have been a more "war-hawk" President, had I been in his position.

My biggest complaints about the book focus on his tendency to gloss over the Iran-Contra affair, which could have been handled more honestly, and his insistence on the need for a "Balanced Budget" amendment to the constitution. The former made me feel like he was unwilling to take the blame for things, while the latter is just wrong economically. A little bit of debt to fund things that help the economy grow are effective, and have been proven to be so, time and again. That he doesn't acknowledge this, makes me wonder if Reagan really grasps that issue.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, 4 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: An American Life (Hardcover)
Good book easy read would recommend a true account of a great American president h h h h u unhh h h h h hn
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 26 July 2014
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This review is from: An American Life (Paperback)
Outstanding .
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An American Life
An American Life by Ronald Reagan (Paperback - 11 Jan. 2011)
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