An American Life
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An American Life

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  1,063 ratings  ·  69 reviews
In this remarkable autobiography, Ronald Reagan presents a definitive personal account of his historic presidency. With uncompromising candor, modesty, and wit, he tells the story of his life—public and private—and reveals the events that shaped his reluctant candidacy and the decision-making process that led to his first nomination; the unseen dangers...more
Paperback, 748 pages
Published January 11th 2011 by Threshold Editions (first published November 15th 1990)
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Aug 13, 2008 Matthew rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Patriots, Conservatives, Barak Obama
Recommended to Matthew by: self search
This book almost brings a tear to my eye. In his own words, one of Americas greatest presidents describes how his love for his country and his fellow man led him to run for the California Governorship and later the Presidency.

If you are a patriot, a conservative, or just all around sensible, this book will sadden you. To see how quickly the progress made by the Reagan administration has been trampled over and discarded is painful. The America Ronald Reagan once helped shape is quickly being repl...more
This was a terrific book, and one that came very close to 5 stars. Why? While the first third of the book was a customary "introduction" to Ronald Reagan, the last third of the book was a fascinating discourse of foreign policy with failures - Iran/Contra, and successes - ending the cold war.

Reagan's defense of his Iran/Contra policy as not trading guns for hostages rings hollow, but his continued defense of his strategy as sound is fascinating to read. His admittance of continuing to pursue th...more
Alex MacMillan
"Mr. Reagan, then, is a somewhat different political leader from the bumbling idiot of liberal myth — in private a kind and gentle man, in politics a charming Machiavellian, economical in his use of power, manipulative in his use of people, and modest when it comes to sharing out the credit. In short, a master politician.

The problem of this book is that memoirs are a form of taking the credit and Mr. Reagan simply can't do it. A lifetime of not fully showing his hand has bred in him a style of a
Travis Mcclain
I had barely turned two years of age when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the fortieth President of the United States. He will always be my standard for what a president should look and sound like, because he was the first one I had. Still, I am a moderate-liberal and have many criticisms of Mr. Reagan's domestic policies. Here are the pros, cons and final assessment of this fascinating memoirs.

The Pros
Mr. Reagan earned his moniker, "The Great Communicator." He is a natural storyteller, and the...more
The Great Communicator has done it again! "An American Life" takes the reader from his birth in Tampico, Illinois to the return to California with mission accomplished. Ronald Reagan earned the moniker "The Great Communicator" for his ability to reach an audience. "An American Life" proves that he could do it in ink too. His writing is direct, easy to follow and engaging. The theme of the book is the optimistic world view of the Reagan we knew. There is little introspection. Reagan knew what he...more
Big 752 page book- Reagan's autobiography written after two terms as California Governor, and two as US President (plus sports caster and actor). I never understood people writing autobiographies in mid life... One reason I read this is that I've always felt bad about dissing Ron and Nancy in an essay I wrote while living in Africa - some insipid little comment about Nancy consulting a horoscope... So part of my reason was to approach this President's book as a mea culpa exercise. I'm glad I did...more
This was a great book. As one might imagine, it was A LOT of politics. I've read at least one biography before on Reagan, but have wanted to read his autobiography for a long time and glad I finally did. It's 85 chapters and 726 pages and most of it is politics, so not necessarily a "pool side" read. But I found it fascinating. The focus of the book is much more regarding politics than his personal life and I would have liked him to recount a little more on his personal life. Nevertheless, it wa...more
I may disagree with much of what he did, but when looked at in a modern light other than his policies on many social issues Reagan is a solid pragmatist and bears more similarities to modern democrats than to modern republicans. His attitude of the 9-5 rivalry is absolutely excellent to read about, and it is interesting to hear why he did many of the things that he did. It was particularly amusing to read his own words about the debt ceiling during a time when the US was struggling with the same...more
After doing lots of family history, it felt a little weird to read about someone not related to me. The section where he's just starting to get politically active is fascinating.

I would recommend the first half of this book to any American, especially those who weren't adults during the 80's. There were some fascinating facts about the state of our government and economy. It also made me appreciate how hard it would be to be President of the United States. I don't see how anyone could be prepar...more
Dj Wells
An awesome autobiography about one of the greatest Presidents the United States has had the honor of having. A country boy at heart on his ranch in California and an outstanding orator. The book leads the reader from life in Dixon, IL to Hollywood, the Governorship of CA, and finally the Presidency of the United States. We see the efforts put forth during the Cold War with Gorbechav and the attempts to create arms treaties to reduce the nuclear threat. His frustration with the partisan congress...more
Burt Schoeppe
Very unique. Reagan definitely lives up to the great communicator title. He had quite the life before politics. The book was probably the least political of the presidential bios I have read, mostly for the better but definitely leaves me interested in reading a thrird party bio.
Very interesting! Loved best the chapters from his childhood through his acting career to his govern-ship of California. I admire Reagan the most for his integrity. Now I better understand some politics from the 70's and 80's. Holy cow the chapters about the middle east and Russia; what a complicated mess for every president. I was also surprised that I walked away with a bit more empathy for whoever holds the office of the presidency--their challenges with staff members, foreign policy, militar...more
Amazing autobiography. Incredibly inspiring and even better when listed to on audiotape.
I enjoyed this book very much. It was written in a way that made me feel like I was sitting beside a fire talking to him. He certainly knew how to relate to common, everyday people.

The only part of this large account of his life that got tedious to read was all of the correspondence between him and the Soviet leaders. The content and ramifications of those letters was fascinating, just far less enjoyable than the accounts of his life.

I highly suggest this book for anyone, whether they appreciat...more

Enjoyed it.

Estimated date.
Greg Mourgenos
A great book from a great leader!
Just finished reading this book. I found the first three parts of the book really engaging. President Reagan has a way of keeping you engaged through his narrative. The last part of the book became hard to read and dry as he published a lot of personal letters and speeches instead of his interpretation of the events. I wish he would have mentioned more (or anything) about his decision to grant amnesty to the undocumented immigrants- it is a subject I was intrigued about his reasonings as it is s...more
Colby Qualls
While I certainly do not agree with all of his political opinions, I still find him to be a remarkable man and president. His charismatic style is even apparent in the way he wrote the book. Though it was a lengthy autobiography, I never lost interest. I also find it interesting that his relationship with Gorbachev is much better than relationships between elected officials in our country today. I think many long for the days when our country was not so polarized and divided.
Very lengthy read- I'll admit I started skimming chapters towards the end- but I enjoyed reading some of his views on politics and national government.
Beverly Maher
An interesting look at a man who came from humble beginning, to his acting career, to his governorship, and all the way to the white house. He was a man born with common sense and a sharp intuition. There is a warm, deeply patriotic memoir.
Interesting on his rise to presidency, thoughts on his reforms and ideals followed by the unsightly stuff:

Tons and tons of transcripts of presidential letters. I swear, politics has got to be one of the worst jobs ever, to read and write endless tons of this diplomatic flowery bull. The second half of this book took me two weeks, while the first half took less than a week. Go figure.
I have always respected President Reagan. I wanted to know more about him. I was in High School when he was shot. I was touring with a musical theater group in college when I heard the Berlin Wall was coming down. That evening, the hymn "God Bless America" was even more poignant! With that, I truly enjoyed this book!!!!
I just finished this book and wow, the only thing I can say is that they don't make men like this anymore. Someone who stuck to his principles, and was rewarded with being quite possibly the greatest American president in history. It makes me yearn to see our current batch of leadership in Washington be more like Mr. Reagan.
Marshall Smiland
I must have read thousands of books in my 26 years, but few as inspiring as this one. President Reagan's famous optimism and his unwavering love for this country flow from every page. With all the problems currently facing the US, I can't help but think that things would be better if the Gipper was back in the Oval Office.
Bernie Clarke
This book almost brings a tear to my eye thinking how far America has fallen, mostly due to our inability to be self reliant and trust God, not man. Reagan realized he wasn't God, but helped lead America in a righteous direction.

Great reminder of what a great president can be like, we haven't had one since 1988.
Nathan Sharp
I enjoyed getting to know more of Reagan's beliefs and history through this book. I was a toddler when Reagan left office so I did not experience his presidency first-hand; it was nice to learn more about the man I consider to be one of the greatest presidents in American history, if not the greatest.
Edwin Martin
finally forced myself to finish it after abandoning it for many months. I would say read the first third to half of it until he gets to the White House. Then the rest is very dull, and besides even a good man can't tell his view of things as well as someone from a better perspective.
The President's correspondence with Gorbachev was extensive and fascinating from a human point of view. Both men's intellects were well matched. You could see the hand of Providence at work in the affairs of humans at a critical time in the history of our world.
I really enjoyed learning more about Ronald Reagan. I was a teenager during his presidency and not really focused on politics. As more and more politicians claim to be the next Ronald Reagan, I wanted to read Reagan's own words on what his guiding philosophy was.
An inspiring account of one of our great presidents. Love him or hate him, it is difficult to deny the great strides the world made while he was president. While there are no major surprises in teh book, it shows many sides of President Reagan.

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Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975). Born in Illinois, Reagan moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s, where he became an actor, president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and a spokesman for General Electric. Reagan became involved in politics during his work for G.E. and switched from the Democratic Party to the...more
More about Ronald Reagan...
The Reagan Diaries The Notes: Ronald Reagan's Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom Reagan Speaking My Mind: Selected Speeches Reagan In His Own Voice

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“I don't think we'll solve the problem of the deficit until three things happen: We need more discipline on spending in Congress. We need a constitutional amendment requiring Congress to balance the budget. And we need to give our presidents a line-item veto.” 3 likes
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