An American Life: The Autobiography
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Ronald Reagan’s autobiography is a work of major historical importance. Here, in his own words, is the story of his life—public and private—told in a book both frank and compellingly readable.
Few presidents have accomplished more, or been so effective in changing the direction of government in ways that are both fundamental and lasting, than Ronald Reagan. Certainly no president has more dramatically raised the American spirit, or done so much to restore national strength and self-confidence.
Here, then, is a truly American success story—a great and inspiring one. From modest beginnings as the son of a shoe salesman in Tampico, Illinois, Ronald Reagan achieved first a distinguished career in Hollywood and then, as governor of California and as president of the most powerful nation in the world, a career of public service unique in our history.
Ronald Reagan’s account of that rise is told here with all the uncompromising candor, modesty, and wit that made him perhaps the most able communicator ever to occupy the White House, and also with the sense of drama of a gifted natural storyteller.
He tells us, with warmth and pride, of his early years and of the elements that made him, in later life, a leader of such stubborn integrity, courage, and clear-minded optimism. Reading the account of this childhood, we understand how his parents, struggling to make ends meet despite family problems and the rigors of the Depression, shaped his belief in the virtues of American life—the need to help others, the desire to get ahead and to get things done, the deep trust in the basic goodness, values, and sense of justice of the American people—virtues that few presidents have expressed more eloquently than Ronald Reagan.
With absolute authority and a keen eye for the details and the anecdotes that humanize history, Ronald Reagan takes the reader behind the scenes of his extraordinary career, from his first political experiences as president of the Screen Actors Guild (including his first meeting with a beautiful young actress who was later to become Nancy Reagan) to such high points of his presidency as the November 1985 Geneva meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, during which Reagan invited the Soviet leader outside for a breath of fresh air and then took him off for a walk and a man-to-man chat, without aides, that set the course for arms reduction and charted the end of the Cold War.
Here he reveals what went on behind his decision to enter politics and run for the governorship of California, the speech nominating Barry Goldwater that first made Reagan a national political figure, his race for the presidency, his relations with the members of his own cabinet, and his frustrations with Congress.
He gives us the details of the great themes and dramatic crises of his eight years in office, from Lebanon to Grenada, from the struggle to achieve arms control to tax reform, from Iran-Contra to the visits abroad that did so much to reestablish the United States in the eyes of the world as a friendly and peaceful power. His narrative is full of insights, from the unseen dangers of Gorbachev’s first visit to the United States to Reagan’s own personal correspondence with major foreign leaders, as well as his innermost feelings about life in the White House, the assassination attempt, his family—and the enduring love between himself and Mrs. Reagan.
An American Life is a warm, richly detailed, and deeply human book, a brilliant self-portrait, a significant work of history.
celebration in Dallas, I said in my acceptance speech that voters had their clearest choice between the two national parties in fifty years: Despite the Democrats’ attempts to change their tune during their four days beside San Francisco Bay, the choice was between a government of “pessimism, fear, and limits and [one] of hope, confidence, and growth.” After the speech, Ray Charles sang “America the Beautiful” and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. I believe that someday we are
to round-the-clock Secret Service protection, which became especially tight after the CIA received reports of terrorist attacks planned against me and my family. And the prominence of my job may have exacerbated a problem for Michael. During the years I was president, Mike started having difficulty coming to terms with the fact that he was adopted. Although I’d always given him as much love as the other children, he suddenly found it difficult to live with the fact that he was adopted and felt
history books, a date that will mark the watershed separating the era of a mounting risk of nuclear war from the era of a demilitarization of human life. Under the INF agreement, more than fifteen hundred deployed Soviet nuclear warheads would be removed and all Soviet ground-launched intermediate-range missiles in Europe, including the SS-20s, would be destroyed; on the U.S. side, all Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles, with some four hundred deployed warheads, would be destroyed,
agricultural products in Japan, and they imposed subtle but effective barriers that eliminated many of our other products from the Japanese marketplace: American cigarette companies, for example, could advertise their products only in English in Japan. I believed in free but fair trade. I appointed a task force under Secretary of Transportation Drew Lewis to consider how we should deal with the flood of Japanese cars. • • • As we were launching our economic recovery program and beginning to
a copy of my speech handy in front of me, however, because I knew from experience that sometimes teleprompters went haywire. I learned a trick with my contact lenses that helped me see not only my notes and the teleprompter but everything else in life. As I’ve noted, I am very nearsighted in both eyes and started wearing some of the first contact lenses made in America. But a few years ago, I discovered that if I wore only one lens, nature sort of took over and, in effect, gave me bifocals. I