An American Life: The Autobiography
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Ronald Reagan’s autobiography is a work of major historical importance. Here, in his own words, is the story of his life—public and private—told in a book both frank and compellingly readable.
Few presidents have accomplished more, or been so effective in changing the direction of government in ways that are both fundamental and lasting, than Ronald Reagan. Certainly no president has more dramatically raised the American spirit, or done so much to restore national strength and self-confidence.
Here, then, is a truly American success story—a great and inspiring one. From modest beginnings as the son of a shoe salesman in Tampico, Illinois, Ronald Reagan achieved first a distinguished career in Hollywood and then, as governor of California and as president of the most powerful nation in the world, a career of public service unique in our history.
Ronald Reagan’s account of that rise is told here with all the uncompromising candor, modesty, and wit that made him perhaps the most able communicator ever to occupy the White House, and also with the sense of drama of a gifted natural storyteller.
He tells us, with warmth and pride, of his early years and of the elements that made him, in later life, a leader of such stubborn integrity, courage, and clear-minded optimism. Reading the account of this childhood, we understand how his parents, struggling to make ends meet despite family problems and the rigors of the Depression, shaped his belief in the virtues of American life—the need to help others, the desire to get ahead and to get things done, the deep trust in the basic goodness, values, and sense of justice of the American people—virtues that few presidents have expressed more eloquently than Ronald Reagan.
With absolute authority and a keen eye for the details and the anecdotes that humanize history, Ronald Reagan takes the reader behind the scenes of his extraordinary career, from his first political experiences as president of the Screen Actors Guild (including his first meeting with a beautiful young actress who was later to become Nancy Reagan) to such high points of his presidency as the November 1985 Geneva meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, during which Reagan invited the Soviet leader outside for a breath of fresh air and then took him off for a walk and a man-to-man chat, without aides, that set the course for arms reduction and charted the end of the Cold War.
Here he reveals what went on behind his decision to enter politics and run for the governorship of California, the speech nominating Barry Goldwater that first made Reagan a national political figure, his race for the presidency, his relations with the members of his own cabinet, and his frustrations with Congress.
He gives us the details of the great themes and dramatic crises of his eight years in office, from Lebanon to Grenada, from the struggle to achieve arms control to tax reform, from Iran-Contra to the visits abroad that did so much to reestablish the United States in the eyes of the world as a friendly and peaceful power. His narrative is full of insights, from the unseen dangers of Gorbachev’s first visit to the United States to Reagan’s own personal correspondence with major foreign leaders, as well as his innermost feelings about life in the White House, the assassination attempt, his family—and the enduring love between himself and Mrs. Reagan.
An American Life is a warm, richly detailed, and deeply human book, a brilliant self-portrait, a significant work of history.
in production of more grain and certain other farm commodities than the market can absorb, often depressing export prices to less than the cost of production. Every country (including ours) imposes barriers to free trade that are intended to protect or subsidize particular industries, usually because of domestic political pressure from groups that have a vested interest in limiting competition. Barriers are also sometimes imposed to retaliate against the protectionism of another nation. When I
candid exchange of opinions with you on these and other questions. I agree that the exchange be confidential when the interests of the matter so dictate. For my part I would propose to do this through the Soviet Ambassador in Washington and a person whom you would designate. Respectfully, Andropov August 4, 1983 There was a handwritten postscript at the bottom of Andropov’s letter: I sincerely hope, Mr. President, that you will give serious consideration to the thoughts I have expressed
interfering in their internal affairs. We believe that this is the only just and healthy basis for relations among states. For our part, we have always striven to build our relations with the United States, as well as with other countries, precisely in this manner. Besides, Soviet leadership is convinced that our two countries have one common interest uniting them beyond any doubt: not to let things come to the outbreak of nuclear war which would inevitably have catastrophic consequences for both
making full use of Eduard A. Shevardnadze’s visit to Washington to find practical solutions to key problems. In the current situation, this visit assumes increased importance. Our Foreign Minister is ready for detailed discussions with U.S. leaders on all questions, including ways of reaching agreement on problems under discussion in Geneva and the prospects and possible options for developing contacts at the summit level. He has all necessary authority with regard to that. I want to emphasize,
intervened on our behalf. We took the able-bodied welfare recipients, assigned them to these jobs in return for their welfare grants, and as they learned some job skills, they were moving into jobs in the private sector. During the 1973—1974 recession, this program got seventy-six thousand people off the welfare rolls and put them into productive jobs. Later, a lot of them wrote and thanked me for the program, saying for the first time in their adult lives they had felt a sense of self-respect