Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan / Edition 1

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Overview

William Pemberton's new biography is the first book to make use of archival sources at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Pemberton explores the shaping of Reagan's beliefs and values during his childhood in the American heartland; his leadership of the American conservative movement; and his political career, culminating in the first successful two-term presidency since Dwight Eisenhower. In clear and concise prose, Pemberton maintains a balance between recognition of Reagan's failures and acknowledgment of his achievements and his impact on later twentieth-century history. He also penetrates the heavy veil that Reagan used to separate his public and private personas.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Presidential biographies don't get better than this one. In ten comprehensive chapters, historian Pemberton, the author of previous biographies of Harry Truman and George Bush, covers the life and multiple careers of Ronald Reagan as well as his place in U.S. political history. Writing from a centrist interpretation, he presents both the positives and negatives of Reagan's personality, along with his successes and failures. Disagreeing with most historians, Pemberton views Reagan as successfully championing most middle-class voters, restoring their pride in country, Reaganomics notwithstanding. Remarkable for its balance and brevity, this biography deserves a place in both general and special collections. Highly recommended.William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
Kirkus Reviews
A volume that will be welcomed by anyone with an interest in the Reagan presidency so overwhelming it has not yet been sated by the glut of books on this subject.

To be fair, this could serve as a reasonable introduction to Reagan's presidency for readers not already familiar with the basic events. But essentially, Pemberton (History/Univ. of Wisconsin, La Crosse) has produced an abridged encyclopedia of Ronald Reagan. On one hand there is an apparently Herculean effort to use every available written source, from unpublished papers to first-person accounts to scholarly secondary works, in a brief yet comprehensive survey of the major events of Reagan's adult life. On the other hand, there is the predictable result that not a single event receives satisfactory attention. Pemberton's perspective is balanced and serious throughout, but even objective description can be misleading when it is too brief. Devoting less than a single page to such complex events as the origins of the savings-and-loan fiasco or the evolution of the 1986 Tax Reform Act can create the impression that a topic has been addressed even though essential information is missing. Even where details are added to the narration, the presentation is unsatisfying. For example, Pemberton describes Reagan's post-inaugural signing of an order to freeze hiring of governmental employees as evidence of his mastery of symbolic politics. However, throughout the book we are told that Reagan himself rarely made decisions, and never about details. Was he the author of this action, then, or simply a performer? Without addressing this question, the description has little depth.

In an arena already crowded with juicy first-person exposés and academic diatribes, a detached, surface-level survey isn't going to generate much interest.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765600967
  • Publisher: Sharpe, M. E. Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/8/1997
  • Series: Right Wing in America Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 1,155,163
  • Lexile: 1360L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.78 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2004

    Reagan Unvarnished

    Pemberton has captured a Ronald Reagan not seen in news media reports during Reagan's lifetime. The research that went into this book was indepth and highly detailed. By taking a centrist approach, Pemberton has managed to present a slightly different viewpoint of Reagan's true legacy and predicts what history will ultimately say after the passage of time. With both the highs and lows presented in a somewhat non-judgemental book, Pemberton tried to show that Reagan had a lot more substance than generally given credit for. Pemberton also picks up on the true strenghts of Reagan....the core values that did not change with the weather and the fact that Reagan was very popular with the regular folks in the middle of the road. Pemberton also touches on some of the things that others have put front and center in Reagan's legacy..... Iran-Contra and the deficit due to the arms race. Pemberton seems to start with a clean slate and does not follow the thinking that Reagan was the 'amicable dunce' that others made him out to be. This is a must read for those who want to gain a better understanding of Ronald Reagan beyond the headlines.

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