Reagan by Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson & Martin Anderson
A Life in Letters

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Synopsis

Ronald Reagan may have been the most prolific correspondent of any American president since Thomas Jefferson. The total number of letters written over his lifetime probably exceeds 10,000. Their breadth is equally astonishing -- with friends and family, with politicians, children, and other private citizens, Reagan was as dazzling a communicator in letters as he was in person. Collectively, his letters reveal his character and thinking like no other source. He made candid, considerate, and tough statements that he rarely made in a public speech or open forum. He enjoyed responding to citizens, and comforting or giving advice or encouragement to friends. Now, the most astonishing of his writings, culled in Reagan: A Portrait in Letters, finally and fully reveal the true Ronald Reagan.
Many of Reagan's handwritten letters are among the most thoughtful, charming, and moving documents he produced. Long letters to his daughter Patti, applauding her honesty, and son Ron Jr., urging him to be the best student he can be, reveal Reagan as a caring parent. Long-running correspondence with old friends, carried on for many decades, reveals the importance of his hometown and college networks. Heartfelt advice on love and marriage, fond memories of famous friends from Hollywood, and rare letters about his early career allow Reagan to tell his own full biography as never before. Running correspondence with young African-American student Ruddy Hines reveals a little-known presidential pen pal. The editors also reveal that another long-running pen-pal relationship, with fan club leader Lorraine Wagner, was initially ghostwritten by his mother, until Reagan began to write to Wagner himself some years later.
Reagan's letters are a political and historical treasure trove. Revealed here for the first time is a running correspondence with Richard Nixon, begun in 1959 and continuing until shortly before Nixon's death. Letters to key supporters reveal that Reagan was thinking of the presidency from the mid-1960s; that missile defense was of interest to him as early as the 1970s; and that few details of his campaigns or policies escaped his notice. Dozens of letters to constituents reveal Reagan to have been most comfortable and natural with pen in hand, a man who reached out to friend and foe alike throughout his life. Reagan: A Life in Letters is as important as it is astonishing and moving.
 

About Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson & Martin Anderson

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Kiron K. Skinner is an assistant professor of political science at Carnegie Mellon University, and a Hoover Institution research fellow. Her articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal and National Interest. She earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University.
 
Published November 29, 2004 by Free Press. 960 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Reagan

Publishers Weekly

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Hoover Institution fellows Skinner and the Andersons (all editors of the bestselling Reagan, n His Own Hand) use a carefully arranged and astutely annotated sampl

Aug 18 2003 | Read Full Review of Reagan : A Life in Letters

The New York Times

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Now, on the occasion of what would have been the former president’s 100th birthday, his youngest son, Ron Reagan, has written a deeply felt memoir — a memoir that underscores the bafflement his own children often felt about their father, a man the younger Mr. Reagan describes as an inscrutable,...

Jan 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Reagan : A Life in Letters

The New York Times

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Strange to think that Sean Wilentz, a professor of history at Princeton University, would embrace Ronald Reagan as the historic alpha dog of postmodern American politics.

May 18 2008 | Read Full Review of Reagan : A Life in Letters

The New York Times

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Not since the 19th century has a United States president kept a diary through his entire White House tenure, and this volume tells us more about Ronald Reagan than many of his biographies.

Jun 17 2007 | Read Full Review of Reagan : A Life in Letters

Dallas News

Gilbert Garcia has written an excellent account of the 1976 Texas presidential primary campaign between President Gerald Ford and challenger Ronald Reagan that was crucial in the evolution of Texas from a predominantly Democratic state to a solidly Republican one.

Mar 24 2012 | Read Full Review of Reagan : A Life in Letters

The Boston Globe

Against Hoover and Reagan, though by no means allies, Rosenfeld places Clark Kerr, president of the University of California, and Mario Savio, combative student leader of the Free Speech Movement, a radical student organization.

Sep 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Reagan : A Life in Letters

Business Week

"The battle for the mind of Ronald Reagan was like the trench warfare of World War I: Never have so many fought so hard for such barren terrain."

May 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Reagan : A Life in Letters

The New York Review of Books

During his father’s presidency, Republican reactionaries, unhappy when he moved toward political moderation, used to shout, “Let Reagan be Reagan!” but it was never clear who the Reagan was that they wanted Reagan to be.

Mar 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Reagan : A Life in Letters

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