My Father at 100

My Father at 100

3.0 51
by Ron Reagan
     
 

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A moving memoir of the beloved fortieth president of the United States, by his son.

February 6, 2011, is the one hundredth anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth. To mark the occasion, Ron Reagan has written My Father at 100, an intimate look at the life of his father-one of the most popular presidents in American history-told from the perspective

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Overview

A moving memoir of the beloved fortieth president of the United States, by his son.

February 6, 2011, is the one hundredth anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth. To mark the occasion, Ron Reagan has written My Father at 100, an intimate look at the life of his father-one of the most popular presidents in American history-told from the perspective of someone who knew Ronald Reagan better than any adviser, friend, or colleague. As he grew up under his father's watchful gaze, he observed the very qualities that made the future president a powerful leader. Yet for all of their shared experiences of horseback rides and touch football games, there was much that Ron never knew about his father's past, and in My Father at 100, he sets out to understand this beloved, if often enigmatic, figure who turned his early tribulations into a stunning political career.

Since his death in 2004, President Reagan has been a galvanizing force that personifies the values of an older America and represents an important era in national history. Ron Reagan traces the sources of these values in his father's early years and offers a heartfelt portrait of a man and his country-and his personal memories of the president he knew as "Dad."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Reagan’s beautifully written memoir is a conflicted tribute to a distant, almost mythical figure. Though he admits to being "quite close as father and son," the younger Reagan also considered his father "warm yet remote" and "intensely private." The son fares well in his first book-length foray, telling a surprisingly detailed story of his ancestors, analyzing examples of his father’s heroic exploits, and relating touching accounts of his final years. The author is more concerned with showing how his father found his way through the world as a young man than he is about pulling back the curtain on the father-son relationship, which is a pity. The few filial episodes he recounts are predictable tales of moderate adolescent rebellion. The writer’s wife emerges as the one person who tries—and fails—to push Reagan to examine deeper feelings. However, resentment is never far from the surface; his father’s criticisms and reliance on political confidants at his son’s expense seem to sting. "You’re my son, so I have to love you. But sometimes you make it very hard to like you," his father once said, a passing reference that reveals more about the father-son relationship than Reagan dares share directly. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"A deeply felt memoir."- - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A first-person view of some of the most dramatic moments in the life of the 40th president." - Doug Wead, The Washington Post

Library Journal
Ronald Reagan was "easy to love but hard to know," writes his son, Ron (not Jr., as he has a different middle name from his father) in this affectionate memoir, published on what would have been Reagan's 100th birthday. The book, primarily devoted to Ron's reflections as he visits Illinois locales and researches his father's youth at the Reagan Library, is the son's story of attempting to know his father better. The autobiographical component, which includes a few episodes of Ron's mild adolescent rebellion, is relatively small in comparison with Ron's efforts to reconstruct Ronald Reagan's internal narrative of his own life, one in which Reagan was "creator and star…director and story editor" of a production where, in early frames as a lifeguard and college football player, he learned to be a hero who would one day "save the world." VERDICT Ron Reagan, up against extant works by biographers, two sisters, brother, mother, and his father himself, may disappoint readers looking for much new information about the 40th President. But sometimes in awe of while sometimes bemused by his "square" of a dad, Ron delivers what many others have not, a down-the-middle portrait that admirers of his father and some memoir fans will likely enjoy.—Bob Nardini, Nashville
Kirkus Reviews

Ronald Reagan's son seeks to understand his father by researching his formative years.

"He was easy to love but hard to know," writes the author, who disagreed with his father politically but loved him avidly. After the former president's death in 2004, Ron visited the locales, mostly in Illinois, where his father grew up, graduated from high school and completed college. His insights are admittedly speculative yet never outlandish. Ron, a political commentator for MSNBC, writes clearly and does not fall into the trap of inflating his role in his father's world. The author explains that although 90 percent of his father's thoughts and actions have been chronicled more or less fully, the remaining 10 percent requires explication. After all, President Reagan, as Hollywood actor and politician, was inscrutable to the point of wonderment among his family members, friends and professional advisors. Of the already published writings, the author credits Edmund Morris' Dutch (1999) as the most successful in capturing Reagan's elusive nature. It turns out, from the youngest child's perspective, that the president was as advertised: naturally sunny, without guile, devoid of cynicism, expert at creating his own worldview by reformulating his childhood experiences, turning cinema experiences into an ersatz reality and frequentlyinvoking denial when unpleasant scenariosloomed. Toward the end of the book, the authorshifts from genealogical researcher to you-are-there narrator, particularly as he recounts the assassination attempt on his father and the already elderly man's swift recovery from anearly fatal bulletentry. Ron's recounting of the post-presidential decline because of dementia is honest and compelling, whatever the reader'sassessment of the White House years.

A worthy memoir, givenwhat might seem at first a superfluous quest for understanding.

Doug Wead
My Father at 100…may be the most intimate and revealing work yet about the former president…the book grows on you, page by page—or I should say that Ron's sarcasm and ability to invoke nostalgia grow on you, and they eventually seduce. You'll want to stay with this story because it finishes with a flourish, offering a first-person view of some of the most dramatic moments in the life of our 40th president.
—The Washington Post
Michiko Kakutani
…a deeply felt memoir…Ron Reagan, who writes in charming, lucid prose, clearly wants to try to know his father, and his travels to the small Midwestern towns where his dad grew up become a Telemachus-like search for understanding as he deconstructs the former president's earliest dreams and ambitions and his relationships with his parents, his brother and his classmates. These chapters of the book have the emotional detail and heartfelt power of recent classics of filial devotion like Martin Amis's Experience and Philip Roth's Patrimony.
—The New York Times

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670022595
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/18/2011
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

This is not a political biography—that's a job best left for others. Neither does this book pretend to be an encyclopedic recounting of his entire life. It is simply my attempt to come to grips with the father with whom I grew up, with a public figure both revered and reviled and, most important, with a human being in all his stubborn enigma. Everyone thinks he knows Ronald Reagan, but those who truly knew him best still grapple with the enduring mystery of his inner character. I'm hoping that some light might penetrate that mystery if I can focus on the man I knew through the lens of his early, formative years.

Meet the Author

Ron Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan and First lady Nancy Reagan. A political commentator for MSNBC, he was formerly a talk-radio host and chief political analyst for KIRO radio in Seattle and the host of Air America’s The Ron Reagan Show. He has written for numerous magazines.

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My Father at 100 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My Father at 100 and its author have received a lot of criticism for being disrespectful to President Reagan, but I found that many of those who bashed the book refused to read it. My Father at 100, shows the private life of a very public and idealized man. While some see the author as a radical liberal out to destroy his father's legacy, I see him as a son who researched his father's past and connects it with the man he knew and love. Considering their differences, which where many, as the juinor Reagan is a liberal, athesist, and former ballet dancer, there is slight hostility towards his father, but there is also love and admiration. The majority of the book traces the Reagan family's Irish roots and the President's childhood while connecting them with the author's memories. Powerful, insightful, and emotional anecdotes include when 12 year-old Ron beat his father in their routine swim races for the first time, resulting in them never racing again. The memoir faulters at the end as the author breaks from his anecdotal style to give highlights of Reagan's presidency. The latter section contains the controversial idea that Reagan had Alzheimer's during his second term. I view this as a legitimate idea, and the author presents it in the least offensive way as possible by stating that this would in no way undermine his father's accomplishments. The last section lacks the personal and emotional depth of the earlier, but overall, I found the book informative, heartwarming, interesting, and thoughtworthy. I urge those who have already formed their opinions to read it first.
Patch13 More than 1 year ago
I can't believe the gall and unfairness of people who review this book and haven't even read it. It is a deeply caring and sensitive book which made me cry. It is beautifully and lovingly written and offers useful information. I was not a political fan of the president, but I was enlightened by his son's book as to reasons why he operated as he did and was liked even by those against his policies, like me. Ron Reagan is a talented writer and man of integrity. Give him a chance to show you who he is by READING this wonderful book. I hope Ron has a long and successful career.
morgansvoice More than 1 year ago
At first, the first couple of pages in, I couldn't help but smile at the wonderful and sweet portrayal of his fathers, although he came across as sounding snobbish about some of the things he writes. Later in the book, I got annoyed by him constantly calling Ronald Reagan "our hero" and "hero" and sounding patronizing. I got tired of his "Let's pretend that I know what I'm talking about but make up stuff as I go along" -- like his conjecture that the reason Jack Reagan drank was because his wife was no longer giving him sex because she was overly modest and told not to have any more children, which -- let's face it -- has no basis in fact. The book comes across as snobbish and mean, mostly because he seems to make some of it up as he goes along. There are good points in this book, the stories that no one else can really tell about Ronald Reagan are pretty good, they bring an intimate look to the type of father that Ronnie was, which to me was worth the purchase. That said, there are so many condescending, snobbish things written in the book, that many times you will just have to walk away from it and come back to it later, and maybe even skip a few pages.
yellowroseNC More than 1 year ago
after reading the synopsis..and the reviews both poor and good...I will NOT be buying the book...Ron Reagan Jr talks like a TRUE Liberal and now tries to write like a True Liberal. He is "riding" on the name..Reagan and seems to be a "user" of the name. MSNBC deserves his one-sided views . President Reagan was a fine man, a good President and doens't deserve this kind of treatment from his left-wing son. Its too bad people like RonJr. jump on the book writing band wagon AFTER the death of a loved one..Good Luck Ron jr.
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
Ron Reagan celebrates the centenary of his father's birth by taking us on a trip to the small towns that made his father the man we know as one of the most beloved presidents in history. Ron traveled to these towns and shares his experiences along with many stories he heard his father tell over the years. The journey before Hollywood, Sacramento and Washington D.C. that shaped Ronald Reagan into the man we got to know later in his life when he hit the public spotlight. Dollycas's Thoughts The love Ron Reagan has for his father just flows off these pages. He takes us back in time and shares with us the life of Ronald Reagan from the very start. This is not a book about Ronald Reagan the politician or Ronald Reagan the actor although a bit of that is mentioned. This is a story of Ronald "Dutch" Reagan, the boy, the young man, and how his life growing up in Illinois brought him to be the man we came to know as an actor, a Governor and a President, from the very beginning when his ancestors came to the United States. Ronald Reagan, the child of a what would be called today a dysfunctional family became a local hero, the lifeguard and the football player. A man who even when everything was against him he always tried to do what was right. He set a very high standard for himself and while like all of us, he had is faults, he tried to be the best he could be every day and in every way. This book is a loving tribute by a son about his father. Ron Jr. admits he didn't completely understand his father and wishes he would have listened closer to his dad's stories and spent more time talking about the past before the Alzheimer's started to take over. I think this book turned in a different direction than what was originally planned. He may have had some unresolved conflict he needed to work out after his dad passed away. Not only did the readers learn much about Ronald "Dutch" Reagan but the author did as well.
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Mcfan97 More than 1 year ago
Not a book for Reagan admirers! Most of the book had a "Poor Me" kind of attitude. It was like he went out of his way to bad mouth and dirty his father's reputation. He questioned the motives and validity of all of Ronald Reagan's accomplishments. Do yourself a favor and put this book back on the shelf (where it belongs).
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Icecream18JA More than 1 year ago
Reading this as an 18 year old that was born after Ronald Regan’s presidency was really interesting and I liked learning about Ronald Regan’s life. Reading about Ronald’s past from Ron’s point of view was really appealing. I loved reading about Ronald Regan’s past and history. The fact that Ron traveled to learn about his father really hit home with me. This book seemed to really look at Ron and Ronald’s relationship. Regan, an enormous figure, is humanized into a father who cared about his family. I was in tears when Ronald died and would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about his history. The photos that came with the book put faces with people that I read about. They are poignant and nostalgic; I greatly appreciated their presence. I now plan to read more about America’s presidents. The only real flaw I noticed in this novel was the lack of focus at times. Ron seemed to lose focus or lapse into a side note that was unrelated to a previous topic. My Father at 100 earns four out of five stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Doug Wead of the Washington Post said it perfectly. " I should say that Ron's sarcasm and ability to invoke nostalgia grow on you, and they eventually seduce." At first, I was put off by Ron, Jr.'s accounts of the Reagan brothers' early years...but by the end, I was crying in my soup. I listened to this book and wished I'd had the pictures from the print edition. Now I'm off to see if I can find them.
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