First published in 1986 and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Early Reagan is still the most in-depth portrayal of the pre-government years of the late president. The book uncovers Reagan’s formative years: childhood poverty, film stardom, and his politicization via the Screen Actors Guild. Anne Edwards interviewed more than two hundred people important in the life of Reagan as well as those of his two wives, Jane Wyman and Nancy Davis. The book concludes with Reagan’s entry into politics in 1966, when he ...
First published in 1986 and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Early Reagan is still the most in-depth portrayal of the pre-government years of the late president. The book uncovers Reagan’s formative years: childhood poverty, film stardom, and his politicization via the Screen Actors Guild. Anne Edwards interviewed more than two hundred people important in the life of Reagan as well as those of his two wives, Jane Wyman and Nancy Davis. The book concludes with Reagan’s entry into politics in 1966, when he announced his candidacy for Governor of California in the living room of his hilltop San Onofre home. As the late historian Barbara Tuchman noted, “For anyone who wants to know about the circumstances . . . that formed Ronald Reagan into a political figure, this is the book to read.”
Edwards traces Reagan's acting career from start to finish, and his gradual shift from fervent Roosevelt Democrat to the day in 1966 when he announced his candidacy, as a Republican, for governor of California. She refutes Reagan's claim that he was typecast as an actor, that the studios offered him second-rate roles in revenge for his union demands as president of the Screen Actors Guild. (Perhaps the most revealing section of the book revolves around his aggressive leadership of that organization.) Reagan's marriage to Jane Wyman and the early years of his marriage to the former Nancy Davis are covered, along with interesting tidbits about his relationships with acting colleagues, directors, gossip columnists and his boss of many years, studio head Jack Warner. As a Hollywood biography, the book is only mildly interesting, but as a political biography it is intriguing; Edwards (Sonya, etc.) skillfully combines the two elements into a unique drama that should find many readers. Photos. (July 17)
This breezy, anecdotal book by the biographer of Katharine Hepburn, Margaret Mitchell, and others details Reagan's movie and television career while deemphasizing his political career. Despite his father's ardent support of Franklin Roosevelt, Reagan became a Republican because his friends and most of the actors he associated with were conservative. Although lacking the eloquence and brooding introspection of Gary Wills's Reagan's America: innocents at home ( LJ 2/1/87), this book is a lively recounting of Reagan's childhood and years in the entertainment industry, where his political instincts and interests were kindled. A fine selection for public libraries. Karl Helicher, Wolfsohn Memorial Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Midwest Book Review
Ronald Reagan has earned a place in history as an icon; love [him] or hate him. Early Reagan: The Rise to Power is a new edition of the 1986 book from Anne Edwards, which tells the story of Reagan's rise to fame from nothing as a child to gaining Hollywood stardom, [as well as] his early moves in politics. Tracing his life up to his official entry into politics as a candidate for governor of California, Early Reagan is a strongly recommended pick for those who want to better understand this American icon and how he became history.
SheKnows Book Lounge
Edwards . . . show[s] us a side of the former president that has been overshadowed by Iran-Contra and Reaganomics. . . . In these pages, we meet Reagan's family, wives and children as well as movie stars and directors, and get a taste of the iconic days of early Hollywood. Family photographs and studio stills illustrate this fascinating biography.
A former actress and screenwriter (she wrote the first draft of the screenplay for Funny Girl), Anne Edwards is the author of eight novels and fifteen biographies, among them books on Vivien Leigh, Judy Garland, Maria Callas, and Margaret Mitchell. Her memoir, Leaving Home, was published in August by Scarecrow Press. She lives in Beverly Hills.
Chapter 1: Almost the Conquering Hero, September 14–16, 1941
Chapter 2: Beginnings, 1911–18
Chapter 3: Mac’s Golden Tornadoes
Chapter 4: Radio Who
Chapter 5: Hollywood
Chapter 6: Rear Gunner
Chapter 7: The Sag Years
Chapter 8: Enter Nancy
Chapter 9: The Corporate Years
Repositories for Early Reagan Material