Thursday, April 21, 2011

"My Father at 100" by Ron Reagan

Don't dismiss this book. Whether you loved him or hated him, and there seems to be no middle ground on that score, Ronald Reagan was arguably one of the most influential Presidents to come down the pike since Roosevelt. His presidency set the stage for many of the divisions that still divide the nation today over economics, as well as foreign policy. He was, and will always remain, a controversial man.

Ron Reagan, his eldest son, sheds new light on Ronald Reagan the man, as he explores for himself just who his father was. He travels back to the places his Dad lived and worked, from the small town years in Illinois to Hollywood, and then on to Washington and the Presidency, Mr. Reagan paints a candid portrait of his Father. He talks openly of their political differences, as well as some of his Dad's shortcomings, without rancor. He is deeply interested in just who his Dad was.

Going as far back as the year 1014 and the Battle of Clontarf, he shows his family's surprising link to the Kennedy clan, who were at that time the Cennotig clan. He then moves quickly forward to the 1800's and from there on to his own Father's extraordinary life.

I admit to having mixed feelings about the Reagan Presidency. On the one hand his foreign policy changed, for the better, the way in which we, as a nation, were perceived overseas at the time. I can attest to this, having spent the later half of the 1970's at sea, with the Russians harassing us everywhere. The moment Reagan took office in 1981, this ceased. He put the teeth back into our military at a time when it was sorely needed.

His domestic policy was a different story, slash and burn seemed to be the order of the day. During his second term I was a working father, and sometimes it felt like he was working against me.

So, though I was reluctant at first to pick up this book, I found it to be an engaging memoir, with just enough history thrown in to make it a very interesting read. As I said, don't dismiss this one. It's actually worth reading.

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