Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2005-11-21:
Celebrated journalist Reeves (President Nixon: Alone in the White House) takes the same vivid, fly-on-the-wall approach he's previously applied with such success to Nixon and Kennedy, and uses it just as skillfully to take us inside the administration, mind and character of Ronald Reagan. As usual, Reeves's omniscient form of narrative requires him to delve deeply into oral histories and other first-person accounts from key participants, mining them for details concerning scores of meetings, negotiations, pranks and tragedies. Reeves is particularly strong at portraying Reagan's almost organically intuitive approach to management. Here we have the Gipper's artful delegation of details along the road to fulfilling his short list of grand goals: the destruction of world communism, the downsizing of taxes and government, and a revival of nearly jingoistic American patriotism. Reeves detects the subtle craft of a shrewd actor within Reagan's apparent wide-eyed naivete: the wily political performer playing a carefully calculated role-innocent patriot, Boy Scout grown big, the model Mr. Smith going to Washington. This is the imagined president, the facade emerging triumphant after eight years in office, affecting the sense-more contrived, some said, then real-of great battles won and great beasts slain. 100,000 first printing; first serial to Reader's Digest. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2006-10-01:
Structured similarly to his President Kennedy: Profile of Power (CH, Mar'94, 31-4010) and President Nixon: Alone in the White House (CH, Mar'02, 39-4258), Reeves's biography of Ronald Reagan shares the same strengths and limitations as those books. His prodigious research provides torrents of detail and stories, and a basically convincing picture of Reagan: he was his own man rather than a prisoner of his staff, but he was also an old man who stubbornly held a few simple ideas and needed good direction as the actor he was. However, the crush of details begs for more analysis than Reeves (visiting professor, communications, Univ. of Southern California) provides. The day-by-day focus on Reagan in the White House, though admittedly Reeves's stock-in-trade and stated goal, proves limiting on two counts. First, although Reagan is always Reagan, the sea change in US culture and politics in these years cannot be captured by telling the tale in this way. Secondly, Reeves presents Reagan's words and actions without penetrating analysis; details only reveal so much. Although Reagan's depths are not easily plumbed, as Edmund Morris found while working on Dutch (1999), one still yearns for more explanation of who Reagan was. That said, Reeves tells a familiar story with competence and lively color. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. D. N. Buckaloo Coe College
Appeared in Library Journal on 2005-07-01:
Having tackled presidents Nixon and Kennedy in successful bios, Reeves feels ready for Reagan, whom he proclaims a sly and crafty politician. With a seven-city tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.