Lou Cannon's Reagan

Lou Cannon's Reagan

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Book Review – Reagan by Lou Cannon
Preliminary Information
     The book is titled Reagan. Lou Cannon is the author. There are 464 pages in the book, and it was published in 1982.

Subject Matter/Topic
     Reagan is a biography of former president Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States. The book discusses in detail all the events of his life, from his birth to his election to presidency.

Point of View
     Cannon writes in the third person, largely objective narrator. He is writing not from the point of view of a Reagan supporter or and employee of his administration, but from the perspective of an objective reporter. Cannon was the White House corespondent for The Washington Post. Most of the book Cannon merely tells the facts of Reagan’s life without throwing in any of his own thoughts. While Reagan mostly deals with the positive aspects of Reagan’s life, Cannon doesn’t shy away from talking about the negative parts of his life, such as his firing from his radio announcing job. Cannon also discusses Reagan’s many failures as an actor, while at the same time mentioning his successes too. Cannon writes about his political defeats, such as his failure to win nomination for president in 1976, while also writing about his many political victories, such as being elected governor of California, and President of the United States. Overall, Cannon writes with a detached, objective point of view. He balances all of the positives and negatives of Reagan’s life, giving equal time to each.

     Reagan is an in-depth biography of Ronald Reagan. This definitive biography explores every aspect of Reagan’s life, and all of his successes and failures. The overriding theme in the book is that of Reagan’s determination and never give up attitude.
     Cannon begins the book by discussing Reagan’s humble beginnings. He was born in the front bedroom of a five-bedroom flat above the general store where his father worked, near Tampico, Illinois. He spent his childhood in a succession of small Indiana towns. His family was very poor, but not quite living in poverty. They came close to being crushed by the Depression. His father, Jack Reagan, was an Irish-Catholic, but only their first son, Ronald’s brother Neil, was baptized a Catholic. Jack was a hard-worker, but struggled with alcoholism throughout his life. His mother Nelle was a very moral and dignified woman. She encouraged her children to get a good education so they could have a better life.

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His brother, Neil, was better athlete and actor growing up, but he didn’t have the charisma that Ronald had. Ronald was very popular at his high school in Dixon, Illinois. He played on his high school football team, and was known as one of the hardest workers on the team. He served as student body president and participated in football, basketball, track, and school plays.
     At Eureka College Ronald continued his success in sports, drama, and campus politics. He was a varsity guard on the football team and was captain of the swimming team; he also participated in track. A member of the drama club, he had roles in college dramatic productions. As president of the freshman class he helped organize a student strike against cutbacks in the curriculum, which led to the resignation of the president of the college. Ronald later was president of the student body. Although not considered a serious student, he graduated in 1932 with an A.B. degree in economics and sociology. He has two children, Maureen and Michael, from his first marriage, to actress Jane Wyman. In 1952 he married Nancy Davis, also an actress; their children are Patricia Ann and Ronald Jr. Nancy was a very insecure woman when it came to Ronald. She was paranoid at him even talking to other women.
     As president of the Screen Actors Guild, Reagan became embroiled in disputes over the issue of Communism in the film industry; his political views shifted from liberal to conservative. He toured the country as a television host, becoming a spokesman for conservatism. In 1966 he was elected Governor of California by a margin of a million votes; he was re-elected in 1970. Ronald Reagan won the Republican Presidential nomination in 1980 and chose as his running mate former Texas Congressman and United Nations Ambassador George Bush. Voters troubled by inflation and by the year-long confinement of Americans in Iran swept the Republican ticket into office. Reagan won 489 electoral votes to 49 for President Jimmy Carter. On January 20, 1981, Reagan took office. The book, published in 1982, leaves off with Reagan being inaugurated.
     Reagan is a very informative biography. It gave a vivid description of Ronald Reagan as a person, actor, and politician. Cannon’s main purpose in this biography is to depict Ronald Reagan as a hardworking American dreamer who rose up the ranks through determination and perseverance through hard times. Cannon does achieve this goal, as I sympathized with Reagan’s life story. He still writes the story with detachment, which is a key element in a good biography. It was very fast-paced and it kept my attention the whole way. There were also many interesting pictures in the middle of the book. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about Ronald Reagan.
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