“Reagan: The Life” by H.W. Brands was published in 2015. Brands is a professor at the University of Texas, a prolific author and a two-time Pulitzer finalist. He has written nearly thirty books on a wide range of historical topics including biographies of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, Theodore Roosevelt and FDR (each of which I have previously read and reviewed).
The first full-scale biography of Reagan in over a decade, this 737 page book contains 114 chapters organized into seven major sections. But while its heft could intimidate some readers, Brands’s narrative is extremely articulate and free-flowing. Very few presidential biographies of comparable length are this easy to read.
Brands devotes about one-third of the book to Reagan’s pre-presidency. But the narrative sweeps too briskly through his childhood – about a page per year – moderating somewhat when the aspiring actor moves to Hollywood. The pace still feels…
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