I received a pre-release e-copy of this book through NetGalley (publication date May 12, 2015) with the expectation that I will post a review on their site and others (my blog, Goodreads, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter, Amazon, etc.).
I requested this book as I am an avid fan of United States history including presidential biographies. I have read several books by H. W. Brands and have always found them well researched and written. This book did not disappoint.
This is the first biography that I have read on President Reagan and found it to be very thorough. It covers in objective detail the events that shaped his character and beliefs along with his leadership style.
The book reinforces and deflates some of the myths surrounding him. He was a great communicator and a people person. While he maintained control his leadership style was to let his staff debate issues in his presence and then make his final decision. His decisions were consistent with his belief in what was best for the United States whether or not one agreed with his decision.
While his wife, Nancy, did exert some influence on his decision making, it was not to the degree that many people attribute it. Brands illustrates where Reagan made his own decision opposite of what Nancy thought best. Her main concern was for his image, legacy and safety.
The book also deals with the group that he most relied on while in the White House and the dynamics between them. I found this interesting reading as many other presidential biographies I have read do not usually go into this level of detail with the surrounding staff. It was important here due to the role that they played in the decision making process.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in United States history and our Presidents in particular regardless of your political beliefs. It definitely helped to better understand what took place during that time even though I did not always agree with President Reagan’s beliefs.