Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan

Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan

Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan

Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan

Synopsis

William Pemberton's new biography is the first book to make use of archival sources at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Pemberton explores the shaping of Reagan's beliefs and values during his childhood in the American heartland; his leadership of the American conservative movement; and his political career, culminating in the first successful two-term presidency since Dwight Eisenhower. In clear and concise prose, Pemberton maintains a balance between recognition of Reagan's failures and acknowledgment of his achievements and his impact on later twentieth-century history. He also penetrates the heavy veil that Reagan used to separate his public and private personas.

Excerpt

Ronald Wilson Reagan rose from the obscurity of small-town life in the American heartland to a spectacular career that took him to film stardom in Hollywood, leadership of the American conservative movement, eight years as governor of California, and the first successful two-term presidency since Dwight D. Eisenhower. He had a powerful impact on national life during his years in office, and he had a continuing influence on history because he built the fiscal and political framework within which his successors operated.

Despite the decades he spent in the public eye, he remained a mystery to his friends and admirers. There were many contradictions in his life, career, and personality. While he was an unfailingly gentle and charming man, he distanced himself emotionally from others, erecting a barrier impenetrable even by his closest friends and family members. His unvarying public persona was that of an average American, a citizen-politician, yet from the time he entered the Hollywood film colony in 1937 through his years in Sacramento and Washington he led a cloistered existence, interacting with his countrymen only through the media. He led the American conservative movement to power, but he had started his political career as an outspoken advocate of such notable liberals as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Hubert H. Humphrey. He spent his career as conservative spokesman attacking big government and federal spending, yet government grew in . . .

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