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An American Life

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  1,564 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Ronald Reagan is an American success story. From modest beginnings in a small midwestern town to a distinguished career in films and television, he lived the American dream; as governor of California and as the century's most popular president, he embodied and revitalized the American spirit.

Now in this dramatic and revealing memoir, Ronald Reagan recounts both his life

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Hardcover, 748 pages
Published November 15th 1990 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1990)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Matthew
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
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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
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Julie
Reagan is a great storyteller so this book is easy to read. I was a little annoyed in the first part of the book by how he just dismissed various Democratic leaders as "just another tax and spend liberal." I find these kinds of labels (from both parties) to be unhelpful and would have appreciated his unique insight into people's personalities. The discussion of foreign leaders, particularly the different Soviet leaders, and the thinking and strategy as it related to the growing terrorist threat ...more
Chase Bertoldo
Ronald Reagan's An American life inspired me with its in depth details of all the challenges President Reagan had to over come. This book will take you through the whole life of this incredible man. You will go through the struggles he had in his teen life. Along with the struggles he had in his presidency. All the while making you feel like all the decisions he had too make, whether being teen or president, one of the most important decisions of his life. I see this as one of the best books I h ...more
Brian
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
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Ru
The amazing life and autobiography of Ronald Reagan, detailing eight prosperous years as President of the United States, but also his life from childhood and careers embarked upon long before politics were a glimmer in his eye. The tenure of President Reagan represents some of the most remarkable times of any generation, and as lengthy as this book is, I found myself captivated by this first-person account.

As President Reagan was the oldest president to take office, there tends to be a memory pe
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Jim
I grew up in the 1980s. My teenage years cover most of Reagan's presidency, and I was brought up in a family that was instinctively against Reagan's agenda.

This said, I actually enjoyed the book. It looks at all aspects of this life (with a good chunk focusing on his pre-Presidential life, which was quite interesting), and after I read the book, I can see why they called Reagan the "Great Communicator." In short, the book was an interesting read.

Having said I found it a good read, It didn't nece
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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
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Jerome
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
Tim
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
Kerry
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
Keith Bell
For some reason, his life fascinates me. I wouldn't consider myself a staunch Republican so it' isn't that. I believe it is just that he was a simple man that happened to find his place in history. His Character (per Peggy Noonan) was king.

As I study for my American citizenship, I realize that much of his political philosophy is driven directly by what the founders of this country felt were valuable. Love him or hate him, it's still a great read.
Tbloxham
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
Eric Jakubik
A strong 3 stars with points off due to the length of the book and some repetition. Overall a good primer on historic events which I was too young to follow as they were happening. The direct excerpts from letters and notes does help extend the credibility. Reagan Smash!
Shelley
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
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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.
Janey
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
A
Amazing autobiography. Incredibly inspiring and even better when listed to on audiotape.
Chad
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
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Peter
(pre-Goodreads)

Enjoyed it.

Estimated date.
Greg Mourgenos
A great book from a great leader!
Jose
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
Alison Whiteman
Meh. Not my kind of politician.
Dana
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.
Kein
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.
Carolyn
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!!!!
Barry
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.
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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: A Life in Letters Speaking My Mind: Selected Speeches Reagan In His Own Voice

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