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Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan
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Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  1,764 Ratings  ·  129 Reviews
The author uses a unique first-person narrative and comprehensive scholarship to chronicle the life of Ronald Reagan, the statesman and politician.
Hardcover, 874 pages
Published September 30th 1999 by Random House (NY) (first published January 1st 1999)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dave
Jan 26, 2008 Dave rated it really liked it
Edmund Morris caught a lot of shit for writing this book. Yet, I for one, thought it was one of the best political biographies ever. Reagan was one of those guys defined by public life; he had little use for introspection, personal relationships etc. He was truly most comfortable and at home in the limelight. A quote from the book to illustrate the point:


"Decades before Alzheimer's clouded Reagan's mind, he showed a terrifying lack of human presence. "I was real proud when Dad came to my high s
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John
Jan 25, 2009 John rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: anyone suffering from insomnia
This is one of the worst books I have ever read. The author injecting himself into the story as a fictional character was an egotistical and awkward attempt to insult the President. Very cowardly. Once I got my equilibrium after the initial confusing first couple of chapters, it was obvious to me that this book was less to do about Reagan, and more to do with the author's oversized ego.

Mr. Morris wrote a critically acclaimed book about Theodore Roosevelt. After reading this disaster, not sure t
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Sarah
Jul 31, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is not going to be a way for me to write this review well, so bear with me while I muddle through.

I bought this book a couple of days after Reagan's death in 2004 from Borders in Springfield, Missouri, along with a city guide of San Francisco and a copy of "On the Road." I bought them for the trip to California, and packed them along with my entire collection of Natalie Goldberg and my heartsick copy of "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn." I found that I had wanted to attend Reagan's funeral, and w
...more
Fred
Jul 11, 2014 Fred rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, just as a good read, not as a hagiography (it's far from that), or a history book. Obviously, Edmund Morris's approach (fictionalizing Reagan's life with a participatory, made-up narrator based on Morris himself), was offbeat. And he doesn't really seem to like Ronald Reagan very much, which I think was also off-putting to a lot of people (including me, to some extent, it seemed disloyal somehow, since Reagan essentially hired him to write it as an "official" biography and g ...more
Bev
Nov 30, 2011 Bev rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
Worst biography I've read. Morris doesn’t respect President Reagan, in fact shows great disdain for him on nearly every page. It was apparently written for the entertainment generation: it is crafted into screen plays and Saturday Night Live entertainment which means it’s not credible. And Morris deems he is important enough to tell his whole life story simultaneously with Reagan’s. I kept reading it because this is the authorized biographer who was allowed access to all of Reagan’s papers, jour ...more
Mike
Dec 20, 2012 Mike rated it did not like it
I was inspired to read this book about Ronald Reagan, my favorite president in my lifetime, by everything that I had read about Edmund Morris and his exalted biography of President Theodore Roosevelt.

When I first began reading the book, I read the publisher's note and the comments made by numerous people. It was evident that the book was controversial, but I still fully expected to be reading an excellent biography about an excellent president.

You can imagine the depths of my disappointment wit
...more
Rachel
Oct 14, 2008 Rachel rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People with a higher tolerance for fanciful delivery of information than I have
I read quite a bit of this book several years ago but all I can really remember is having to stop because I found the business with the fictional narrator so weird and confusing. It's like that book The Devil in the White City that everyone loves so much. I can't read stuff like that because I need to have a clear idea of where the research ends and the fancy begins.

Ronald Reagan is definitely one of the most fascinating figures I can think of. Somehow he managed to make quite an impression on m
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Arminius
Feb 27, 2014 Arminius rated it liked it
Shelves: presidents
I was disappointed in this book. Edmund Morris wrote fantastic books about Theodore Roosevelt so I expected his book on the Great Communicator to be just as good. I like that he pointed out how President Reagan developed his communication skills through his acting career and how he adopted his language to be understandable to the masses. I disliked that the author discussed much of his own trials and tribulations which he encountered while writing this book. If you want to learn about President ...more
Mel
Aug 04, 2011 Mel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us-presidents
Many reviewers have been dismayed that Morris injected himself as a fictional character in the first half of the book. Those that criticize the method as being dishonest and difficult to follow are clearly not paying attention. I suspect that most negative reviewers would prefer to worship at the altar of their perfect President and cannot abide any criticism of their God and his wife.

Morris was allowed unique access to the inner working of the White House and accompanied Reagan's entourage to t
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Chris
Jul 18, 2010 Chris rated it it was ok
I liked the actual Biography and thought the author had some good insights. However, it felt like it was as much about the fictional narrator than Ronald Reagan. I didn't know until after I had finished that more than two thirds of "first person" accounts were fictional. I didn't enjoy them when reading, and felt the book would have been much better if they had been left out.
Marlene
Sep 18, 2007 Marlene rated it liked it
I found this a bit difficult to read. The author was trying to be clever, but I sometimes felt like it was an autobiography rather than a biography of President Reagan. However, there certainly are some interesting insights into Ronald Reagan.
Jaime Contreras
Jul 11, 2016 Jaime Contreras rated it really liked it
This massive book is reflection of the complex and sometimes baffling man that was Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan is presented as a man who always was up for whatever life brought to him but often did not know what was coming next. His rural Illinois roots in several Illinois towns and a brief stay in Chicago made Reagan was a reflection of middle America - unassuming, engaging, and hard-working. Reagan grew up in a Christian household, was athletic and enjoyed the arts. Gifted, with intelligence ...more
Steven
Jun 14, 2012 Steven rated it did not like it

Chapter for chapter, page for page, this is the single daffiest nonfiction work I have ever read from a respected author.


Edmund Morris, author of widely praised books about Theodore Roosevelt, was given a free hand and direct access to prepare a biography of Ronald Reagan, and apparently found himself in over his head. In fact, judging from this weird amalgam of memoir, biography, and melodramatic fiction, Morris lost his mind.
Even Reagan's admirers acknowledged the man's often spooky lack of a
...more
Allison
Jan 07, 2008 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was only 8 years old when Ronald Reagan left office, so I felt like I was rediscovering the era of my childhood while reading this book. RR was such an imposing figure upon my imagination, and I remember sadly watching as Alzheimer's slowly took his faculties and he dwindled away into a shadow of what he once was as I grew into an adult. I definitely learned much about twentieth-century American history, and especially about Dutch himself. The best part about this memoir is the author's abilit ...more
Duane
Mar 01, 2012 Duane rated it really liked it
Highly controversial not just for his "fair and balanced" approached to the much revered president but also for the author's literary technique.

The technique of inserting the author into the story in a sort of Dante-esque quality is a little odd for a modern biography. But Morris could be excused because he was given unprecedented access to Reagan while he was running the country. In the later chapters when Morris actually "was there" watching history unfold, he offers an intriguing perspective
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David Peppin
Jul 21, 2013 David Peppin rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I'm really not sure how I feel about this book. It really took a lot of pages to say very little, but I do feel like I understand RR better as a human than before I read the book. On the other hand, not much attention was given to the political side of his life. The fictional characters didn't bother me that much, since I was aware of the situation before reading the book. It also seemed to be pretty fair. I know it seemed to some people to be a bit rough on the President, but I think the author ...more
Rebecca The Files of Mrs. E,
It is a very different approach to writing a biography. Morris essentially invented a character of himself and inserted it into Reagan's life. Overall, it made the book a bit more interested and added a color that some biographies seem to be missing. My only complaint is that he spent so much time talking about "himself" when it wasn't even really himself. It just seemed odd. But this book does give a great background of Reagan's overall personal life. He doesn't go into as much detail on issues ...more
Linda Appelbaum
Sep 17, 2012 Linda Appelbaum rated it liked it
This was an audio book for me and I am not sure I like a biography of an American written and read by someone so completely British! That aside, I'm not so sure I have a better knowledge of Ronald Reagan now than I did before except that he was a very morla, black and white kind of person, stubborn, was once a life guard and saved many lives, really had no warm relationship with his children and was utterly worshiped, protected and controlled by Nancy. It just seems that with all the access Edmu ...more
Bill F.
When Edmund Morris' "Dutch" was published ten years ago, it created a firestorm within the historical and political community. Morris - a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Theodore Roosevelt - had created a fictional character to accompany Ronald Reagan and to help tell his story. At the time, I remember being shocked that a writer of Morris' credibility would 'stoop' to such a tactic. I refused to read the book at the time.

Over the years, though, I've been intrigued by it and often thought
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J. Bryce
May 16, 2017 J. Bryce rated it really liked it
Edmund Morris' first person bio of Ronald Reagan got a lot of bad press when first published, but I remember finding it fascinatingly done and very enjoyable.

Sure, creating dialogue and scenes may not sit well with the academically inclined, but makes an interesting story more accessible to readers, I think.

Recommended.
Anne
Mar 03, 2017 Anne rated it it was amazing
I truly enjoyed this book as read by the author unabridged.
Gregg
Sep 16, 2016 Gregg rated it really liked it
Why are you reading a biography of Ronald Reagan?" is a question i get often these days (in my head). Well, if you must know, for a few reasons. I found Dutch after reading Edmund Morris's excellent Theodore Roosevelt biographical trilogy. And though I was marginally interested in Reagan's story for reasons of nostalgia, the recent (specious) evocations of Reagan’s name these days by the GOP and the right-wing media to somehow delude America into thinking that they haven’t completely gone off th ...more
Brett
Jul 04, 2013 Brett rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
As I was too young to remember the Reagan presidency in anything but hazy images, I was interested to read his biography. It was evident that Morris' style would not match those of most Presidential biographies I had read; being more of a semi-factual literary narration than an academic character exposition. To me, it felt that I was reading about Reagan from the perspective of a Californian and not a Washingtonian. As a result, the book more effectively captured the man than explained his accom ...more
Adrian Carpio
Dec 01, 2010 Adrian Carpio rated it it was amazing
"Why do these printed shapes beneath his moving finger not form themselves into words, as they used to…? Who is this big brown-suited man in the television documentary, saluting and smiling? Why does the light go dim when clouds drift together? Why are “the fellows” so uncooperative at three in the morning when he dresses for an urgent appointment? Why do magnolia blossoms, pristine on the tree, darken when they fall? And what is this pale ceramic object on the sandy floor of his fish tank at Fo ...more
Ashley Cobb
Jan 05, 2014 Ashley Cobb rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I became a fan of Edmund Morris for his trilogy of works about the Life of Theodore Roosevelt. I was pretty excited to get a copy of this book in a used book store pretty cheap. I figured a book written by an author I like about the man I consider to be the greatest president of the 20th century was going to be a great read. I was wrong. The author is "too familiar" with Reagan. On the whole the book does not seem as well researched or as well written as the Roosevelt ones. Mr. Morris's life int ...more
Robert Jones
May 19, 2015 Robert Jones rated it liked it
After reading one of Edmund Morris' Roosevelt books, I couldn't wait to get to his biography of Ronald Reagan. From the greatest biographer I know of, I was expecting - at worst - the second best biography I've ever read. I was greatly, stunningly disappointed.

Bafflingly, Edmund Morris tells two parallel stories: that of Reagan, and a fictionalized version of himself that grew up around the 40th president. In addition to making me have to question what's real and what's not (a terrible quality f
...more
D.W. Ulsterman
Apr 15, 2014 D.W. Ulsterman rated it liked it
Yes, the first person narrative at the outset is somewhat unnerving. And there are at times,not too subtle hints from Edmund Morris of his soft disdain for Reagan himself, but in the end, the book does provide an interesting look at one of the most enigmatic political figures of the modern American era.

What is far less enigmatic, if not beyond dispute, is Reagan's love of America, and his significant impact upon its political trajectory long after he left office. Ronald Reagan remains this count
...more
Frederic
Aug 28, 2011 Frederic rated it liked it
That a man of reserved and gelid Amour Propre should be remembered as the most beloved President of the last century is only one of the mysteries that Edmund Morris plumbs in this very idiosyncratic but interesting biography of the aptly named Great Communicator...ironically,those who seek to claim his mantle today are ignorant of,or choose to forget,his record(as opposed to his rhetoric)as a pragmatic politician who made abortion more available,raised taxes,increased the debt ceiling more than ...more
Steve
Jul 11, 2014 Steve rated it really liked it
Long winded and bizarre, the author inserts himself into the narrative giving more information about himself than the reader probably wants. Originally commissioned to be Ronald Reagan's official memoire, it is easy to see why the Reagans distanced themselves from this tome. For one, Morris' bio is about half the reading, and frankly, not very interesting; and for another, the picture painted of Reagan is not always terribly flattering. No, he is not painted as a bumbling idiot for whom Nancy ha ...more
Vheissu
Oct 05, 2010 Vheissu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
More than a few reviewers have misunderstood and under-appreciated this "memoir," just as so many, myself in particular, misunderstood and under-appreciated Ronald Reagan. I despised the president and still hold him in contempt for his many gruesome mistakes, not least of which is his responsibility for the unnecessary death of 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut.

Still, Morris' magnificent historical fiction made me altogether more sympathetic toward both the man and the politician, if not a cool-aid swi
...more
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For anybody that can remember the Reagan years 3 20 Feb 07, 2013 02:26PM  
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Edmund Morris (1804-1874)
Edmund Morris, actor, playwright, author of screenplays

Edmund Morris is a writer best known for his biographies of United States presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Morris receiv
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