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Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan

by Edmund Morris

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9871015,662 (3.02)11
"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." "Thus began a long biographical pilgrimage to the heart of Ronald Reagan's mystery, beginning with his birth in 1911 in the depths of rural Illinois (where he is still remembered as "Dutch," the dreamy son of an alcoholic father and a fiercely religious mother) and progressing through the way stations of an amazingly varied career: young lifeguard (he saved seventy-seven lives), aspiring writer, ace sportscaster, film star, soldier, union leader, corporate spokesman, Governor, and President. Reagan granted Morris full access to his personal papers, including early autobiographical stories and a handwritten White House diary." "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, Francois Mitterrand, Grant Wood, and Zippy the Pinhead), Morris lived what amounted to a doppelganger life, studying the young "Dutch," the middle-aged Cold Warrior, 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."--Jacket.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
It was an enjoyable enough read, if one remembers that it is a very embellished account with a lot of conversations created from hearsay or speculation. Don't read this while anticipating getting a definitive historical account of the events of Ronald Reagan's life or presidency. ( )
  norcat | Apr 30, 2019 |
I found it strange that there was so much of the author's negative opinion interjected throughout so much of it. The reader needs to keep in mind there are bits of fiction added as well so this would be a little sketchy when considered as a biography. I would classify it as historical fiction. ( )
  MrsSearsy | Feb 21, 2018 |
Biography of Ronald Reagan ( )
  JackSweeney | Jan 9, 2017 |
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 narrative, but was not actually involved in any of the events he chronicles, a controversial tactic much discussed on publication.
I learned a lot about Reagan, and admired much of it; I don't think Morris likes him nearly so well.
Compare to his previous biography of TR, a self-proclaimed progressive and omnibiblious intellectual: RR was very nearly the opposite of what Morris approved.
Addendum 2014-08-15: Just read Mark Steyn's obit of Reagan in "Passing Parade" and he agrees with me about Morris' misunderstanding of Reagan's fundamental character. Another person who just "doesn't get" Reagan is the author of "The Nightingale's Song" who starts (STARTS) with the premise that Reagan's love of America is a fraud. ( )
  librisissimo | Jan 1, 2013 |
Morris wrote way too much about himself in here. Ruined the book for me. I don't think I ever finished it - or if I did, it was completely forgettable. Yuck. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Sep 25, 2009 |
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"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." "Thus began a long biographical pilgrimage to the heart of Ronald Reagan's mystery, beginning with his birth in 1911 in the depths of rural Illinois (where he is still remembered as "Dutch," the dreamy son of an alcoholic father and a fiercely religious mother) and progressing through the way stations of an amazingly varied career: young lifeguard (he saved seventy-seven lives), aspiring writer, ace sportscaster, film star, soldier, union leader, corporate spokesman, Governor, and President. Reagan granted Morris full access to his personal papers, including early autobiographical stories and a handwritten White House diary." "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, Francois Mitterrand, Grant Wood, and Zippy the Pinhead), Morris lived what amounted to a doppelganger life, studying the young "Dutch," the middle-aged Cold Warrior, 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."--Jacket.

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