Monday, February 01, 2016

Review of Ron Reagan's "My Father at 100"

This might not be the best book on Ronald Reagan, but it is from a unique perspective. Written by a man just a couple years older than my own parents, it is written by the president's youngest child. Ron Reagan had a complicated history with his father, and this book of memories and reflections helps to humanize an individual that was so much more than just a California Governor or President of the Unites States of America. He was a husband and a father who cared deeply, made mistakes, but always loved his family and hoped for their best.

One thing I like about My Father at 100: A Memoir is that it is not a political biography. It is about a son's journey to dive into his father's past as a boy and youth and relate to him in a way that is no longer possible. Walk where he walked. See what he saw. The author traveled to the places where his father was born, grew up, went to school and worked as a young man and tried to put himself in his grandparents and father's shoes.

Despite significant religious and political differences, it is obvious from Ron Reagan's reminiscences that he loved his father very much and respected him as a person of character even when they didn't agree. There are a few places where the author's tone seems slightly condescending toward his father, and I believe the vast divide in their personal worldviews was a conflict that even love could not make easy. Still, President Reagan's status as one of the good guys shines through.

I enjoyed the family history aspect of this story. We travel from Ireland to Illinois to California with five generations of Reagan men and see the family develop and persevere through both national and international crises. Fame aside, this was an intriguing look at how we are both shaped by our world and have a turn at shaping it back.

Overall, a good read, but not a comprehensive view of the 40th president of the United States. The author assumes you are already familiar with his subject and is just adding some details you might only get by reading a book written by himself, the son of the president.

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