Review of “Reagan: The Life” by H. W. Brands

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

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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About Jim Rose

Utopia - you are standing in it promotes a classical liberal view of the world and champion the mass flourishing of humanity through capitalism and the rule of law. The origin of the blog is explained in the first blog post at

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