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on 14 February 2016
The third in historian Rick Perlstein's series of books examining the cranks, racists, and grifters who've helped shape the modern day Republican Party.

When compared with the first two in the series (Before the Storm, and Nixonland), what is striking is the change in tone adopted by the author.
While clearly no fan of Goldwater and Nixon, the anti-heroes of books 1 & 2, Pearlstein doesn't display the same level of antipathy towards them that he shows Ronald Reagan, the chief character in this book.

Is Reagan deserving of his acerbic wit?
Well, that depends on what you think of the bumbling liar whose idiotic economic ideas harmed the world in the 1980s.

If you enjoy character assassinations, obscure pop culture references, and tremendous writing, this is the book for you.
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on 10 January 2015
High Comedy at its best disguised as a serious biography of the delightfully irrepressible Ronald Reagan. A Kitty Kelly style biography for liberals who resented the re-election of two popular Republican Presidents and remain determined to rewrite history in their own depressing way. Nothing new to say on Nixon and a refusal to accept his incredible foreign policy triumphs. Reagan's private life is treated with jaw dropping indelicacy and the author has dug up more quotes than a cheap gossip supermarket magazine. Such a shame that this interesting period could not have been the subject of a more balanced and less hysterical approach. Rick Perlstein reminds one of journalist John Pilger. Auberon Waugh succeeded in persuading the Oxford Dictionary to include the word ‘to pilger’ in its dictionary. It was defined as ‘to present information in a sensationalist manner to reach a foregone conclusion’. Perhaps to ‘Perlstein’ means the same!
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Since the 1920's Americans have elected a very mixed bag of Presidents. British PM's since the 1970's have not been much better. The bag contains the outstanding FDR,Truman, who was initially derided as a small time hick but became one of the finest of Presidents, the lacklustre Harding and Coolidge, the likes of Kennedy, a serial womaniser, whose whole family had so many skeletons (adultery was commonplace, and in the case of Edward cowardice has to be added) the cupboard was overflowing, Iraq Bush who went to the same school of liars as Tony Blair, Clinton whose smarm was a thin veneer that covered an adulterer many times over. His scandalous behaviour almost brought America to its knees. Nixon who committed the serious crime of Watergate, plus other serious break-ins, yet was outstanding in terms of US foreign policy achievements, Carter was out of his depth, and Ronald Reagan, the subject of this absorbing book by Rick Perlstein.

Reagan was the but of jokes about B-movie cowboys. Several gaffes on the election trail didn't help either. Today, he is regarded by the knowing as one of the finest of Presidents. Among his sterling qualities was honesty, charm (genuine), high moral standards, a stable happy family life, a deeply religious man, and the backbone to stand up to the evil communist regime in the Soviet Union. He survived an assassination attempt with remarkable stoicism. Pre an operation after being shot he said to the doctors that 'he hoped they were Republicans'. Unlike Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon he had no known connections to Mafia bosses.

An ex Governor of California he became the Great Communicator. He stood by his convictions, a rare quality. His movie career was over so he entered politics like other movie stars had done before. A star was born. He became the fortieth President. Born in 1911, he was the oldest person to be elected as US President.

This book is the third of a triology that aims to analyse the rise of conservatism in the USA. It focuses on the period 1973-76 when the author claims America was on the 'verge of a nervous breakdown'. Perlstein deals with Watergate in great detail, but above all the book ls about the intriguing Reagan. It is a long book of some 850 pages. The author describes Reagan as 'an athlete of the imagination'. Elsewhere, he says Reagan had the abilty to turn complex issues into simple ones, the better for public understanding-a very rare gift among politicians.

Reagan is qoted as saying government is 'like a baby. It is an alimentary canal with a tremendous appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other'. Reagan believed there were no easy answers, but there were simple answers. He was hence fond of putting complex philosophical issues into glib slogans; the public (and Margaret Thatcher ) loved it . He refused to accept that Watergate had badly damaged America. He refused also to let failure in many fields penetrate an already subdued America. America and the free world need another Reagan. They most certainly do not want another Clinton.

A superby written account of some awful years in American history. A masterful trilogy. Highly recommended.
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on 6 October 2014
I very much enjoyed the author's previous two books, Before The Storm and Nixonland, and I would readily recommend them particularly the first but I cannot say the same for this book. I gave up on it because I found the sneering tone of the writer increasingly unpleasant. A great pity.
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on 3 September 2015
this is absolutely fascinating. highly recommended
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on 5 October 2014
What a disappointment this book has been ! In my view it's nothing but a hodgepodge of flippant remarks, cheap journalism, sweeping judgments, etc. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
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on 26 October 2014
Tells something of the story of the great Ronald Reagan - what a kind-hearted and inspiring leader he was in life, and always will be in the annals of successful politics. It was a hard struggle, liberals/media slurred Reagan on every occasion, but now we get books like this and an acknowledgement that the country had become more like Reagan than he the country, because he was true.
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on 26 October 2014
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on 7 October 2014
Did not realise this was an audio book. however I accept it.
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