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Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan

By Edmund Morris (Author)
Our Price $ 25.46  
Retail Value $ 29.95  
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Item Number 158539  
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Item Specifications...

Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.34" Width: 4.24" Height: 2.79"
Weight:   0.58 lbs.
Binding  Audio Cassette
Release Date   Sep 30, 1999
Publisher   Random House Audio
ISBN  0375404694  
EAN  9780375404696  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Read by the Author6 cassettes / 9 hours

Edmund Morris has been absorbed in the life of Ronald Reagan for the last thirteen years, with unparalleled access to his papers, his friends, and his family.This audiobook will inform, engross, and even astonish those who believe they already know Ronald Reagan--as well as those who do not know him at all.

When Ronald Reagan moved into the White House in 1981, one of his first literary guests was Edmund Morris, the Pulitzer-Prize winning biographer of Theodore Roosevelt.An extraordinary relationship--genial yet mysterious on the President's side, admiring yet unsentimental on Morris's--developed between the two men.Reagan granted Morris monthly interviews in the Oval Office, plus unrestricted access to his papers and family and friends.

The result, after fourteen years of obsessive research, is a biography that is as much a memoir as narrative--a pilgrimage to the heart of Ronald Reagan's mystery.It begins with his birth in 1911 in the heart of rural Illinois (where he is still remembered as "Dutch"), and progresses through the way stations of an amazingly varied career: young lifeguard, aspirant writer, ace sportscaster, film star, soldier, union leader, corporate spokesman, Governor, and President.

Here, recreated with participatory vividness (and some original historic audio clips) are the early achievements of the Reagan Era: a restoration of American optimism and patriotism, a re-powering of the national economy, and a massive arms buildup deliberately forcing the "Evil Empire" of Soviet Communism to come to terms.Here, too, is the septuagenarian President who came to grips with some of the most fundamental moral issues of the late twentieth century--at Bitburg and Bergen-Belsen, in Geneva and Reykjavik and Berlin.This audiobook closes with an achingly tender account of Reagan's pst-presidential decline into dementia.

Why did Pulitzer-winning Theodore Roosevelt biographer Edmund Morris controversially choose to write his authorized biography of Ronald Reagan in the form of a historical novel? There's a clue in a quote the book attributes to Jane Wyman, Reagan's first wife. As Ronnie speechified about the Red Menace at a 1940s Hollywood party, Wyman allegedly whispered to a friend, "I'm so bored with him, I'll either kill him or kill myself." This anecdote, if true, is more revealing than Nancy Reagan's charge in the book that Jane had attempted suicide to get Ronnie to marry her in the first place. Jane was no intellectual--Morris cracks that "If Jane had ever heard of Finland, she probably thought it was an aquarium"--but he found to his horror, after years of research, that he felt much the same as Wyman. Reagan was as boring as a box of rocks, as elusive as a ghost.

Decades before Alzheimer's clouded Reagan's mind, he showed a terrifying lack of human presence. "I was real proud when Dad came to my high school commencement," reports his son, Michael Reagan. After posing for photos with Michael and his classmates, the future president came up to him, looked right in his eyes, and said, "Hi, my name's Ronald Reagan. What's yours?" Poor Michael replied, "Dad, it's me. Your son. Mike."

Despite deep research and unprecedented access--no previous biography has ever been authorized by a sitting president--Morris could get no closer to Reagan's elusive soul than Reagan's own kids could. So Morris decided to dramatize Reagan's life with several invented characters--including a fictionalized version of himself and an imaginary gossip columnist who makes wicked comments on Reagan's career. This is one weird tactic, forcing the reader constantly to consult the footnotes at the back of the book to sort things out, and Morris makes it tougher by presenting his invented characters as real, even in the footnotes.

Ultimately, the hubbub over Morris's odd method is beside the point. His speculative entry into Reagan's life and mind is plausible, dramatic, literary, and lit by dazzling flashes of insight. The narrator watches the young Reagan as a lifeguard (years before the real Morris was born):

One tunnels along in a shroud of silvery bubbles, insulated from any sight or sound.... Others may swim alongside for a while, but their individuality tends to refract away, through the bubbles and the blur. Often I have marveled at Reagan's cool, unhurried progress through crises of politics and personnel, and thought to myself, He sees the world as a swimmer sees it.

We cannot verify Morris's notion that Reagan probably approved the illegal Iran-Contra funding without having a clue it was illegal, or that the "Star Wars" program sprang from his love of Edgar Rice Burroughs's first novel, A Princess of Mars, which featured glass-domed cities. But however bizarre and ignorant his thoughts were, however cold his heart, Morris believes, the guy did crush the Evil Empire and achieve greatness. Morris achieves a kind of greatness, too, but one wishes he had written a more straightforward dramatization of history. --Tim Appelo

Outline Audiobook Review
In what must surely be one of the most unusual and critically scrutinized biographies ever written, Edmund Morris has created a difficult but fascinating chronicle nearly as enigmatic as his book's inscrutable subject. Read by the author himself, this audio version comes replete with a special acknowledgment of the controversial nature of the book and an especially poignant closing passage addressing Reagan's senescent slide into dementia. In the explanatory preface Morris describes the rationale behind his unconventional effort: "When the biographer sits talking with the still living subject, as I did so often with President Reagan ... the story of his journey becomes, in effect, an autobiography, that interrelates with the biography he's writing. In other words, this is the true story of a real person told by an imaginary narrator who eventually mutates into myself." A curious and debatable strategy. However, using this unprecedented approach, Morris has created an unarguably intimate, highly detailed, and powerfully moving memoir which reaches a level of emotional resonance rarely achieved in more traditional biographies. (Running time: 9 hours, 6 cassettes) --George Laney

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More About Edmund Morris

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Edmund Morris was born and educated in Kenya and went to college in South Africa. He worked as an advertising copywriter in London before immigrating to the United States in 1968. His biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt won the Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award in 1980. After spending several years as President Reagan s authorized biographer, he published the national bestseller Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan in 1999. He has written extensively on travel and the arts for such publications as "The New Yorker, The New York Times," and "Harper s Magazine." Edmund Morris lives in New York and Washington with his wife and fellow biographer, Sylvia Jukes Morris.

"From the Hardcover edition.""

Edmund Morris lived in New York City, in the state of New York. Edmund Morris was born in 1871 and died in 1913.

Edmund Morris has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Eminent Lives
  2. Modern Library (Paperback)
  3. Modern Library 20th Century Rediscovery
  4. Modern Library Paperbacks
  5. Modern Library War

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Morris Misses the Mark  Apr 26, 2008
After reading the book it is obvious that Morris tries to advance the mantra that the liberals pushed on everyone during Reagans Presidency. Mainly that Reagan was a doddering old fool, with no substance, absent minded and full of bromides and platitudes. Page after page reeks of Morris' disdain and elitist attitude toward Reagan. What Morris gives us is a corny old actor who approaches his Presidency much like one of Reagans B movies, with lots of glitter and no substance. The contradiction, in my mind, is how did this affable dunce, (according to Morris), stand up to, and defeat Communism, reduce taxes, build up our military, beat back the malaise of the Carter years, among many other accomplishments? If you want to read a much better accounting of Reagan and his Presidency, read D'Souza's book. With all the access Morris had to this great man, his book woefully misses the mark!
Extremely Poor Bio  Apr 7, 2008
I was extremely disappointed with this book. I expected to read a candid bio of Ronald Reagan the man, including the good and the bad. Instead, I read a book that contained fictional characters inserted throughout, leaving the impression the author was attempting to mount a disingenuous one-sided piece about his personal opinions of the man. If this was a fiction piece, such as the "North and South" series or the childhood "We Were There" series, then there might be some accolades to share. But to be published and promoted as a bio, this book is sorely lacking. It is my opinion the author wasted an incredible opportunity.
This is an incredibly awful book from a great writer  Nov 12, 2007
I'm not sure what happened here but Morris ruined his reputation as a great historian by writing one of the most bizzare books ever written. It is the book equivilant of "Plan Nine From Outer Space." It is done to one cent on the used market but not sure it is a bargin, even at that price
This is not a Dutch treat  Jun 12, 2007
Years ago in a drugstore near Boston I noticed various news magazines had devoted their front pages to Edmund Morris' new biography on Reagan. It garnered weak reviews due to his unique style of presenting Ronald "Dutch" Reagan to the world. I finally read the book and found that his use of fictional characters, presented as real in order for the reader to capture the essence of Reagan, does not work. While at times an "a-ha" moment occurred when I read about Reagan's youthful actions through the eyes of a fictional acquaintance, I was not interested in reading about this character's life, family, problems and future. To take the biography seriously I was asked to pretend. All the while I felt these inclusions were keeping me away from Reagan, which is not the best praise a biography could receive. His insights into how rural, solitary cornfields and swimming shaped this world leader were fascinating, but sorting through fictional characters to get to them was frustrating.
Since the publication of Dinesh D'Souza's book Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man became an Extraordinary Leader in the mid 1990s, the floodgates have opened with a barrage of pro-Reagan books from former aids, colleagues, political pundits and even his wayward daughter. What is needed is another solid, analytical biography about this larger than life president. Dutch is not it. Written while Reagan was still alive but moribund due to Alzheimer's, it is a miscalculation. Morris stated in an interview that his was a revolutionary way of writing a biography. Some have called it akin to an historical novel. To write a biography-cum-historical novel on Ronald Reagan might be revolutionary, but from what I saw at the revolution, the essence of Reagan might have been beyond even the considerable talents of Mr. Morris.
Long - Unique - What can I say?  Jun 5, 2007
This book took me two years to get through if you count the times I tried to start reading it and when I actually started plowing through it the last few months. In the beginning it was absolutely hard to get through with the literary technique Morris was using in order to tell the story. Once you get through the weird flow the book which spends as much time at the start talking about the fake narrator as Ronald Reagan, you can get at Reagan. But, as many reviewers have alluded to, this book is hard to get through.

I did learn a lot about President Reagan. There is no doubt that the book is filled with information. I think a glaring error was how little Iran-Contra was dealt with, and how it was dealt with. The portrait that Morris paints of Reagan throughout this book is a cool, detached leader who alternated between caring about the job to not knowing what he was supposed to say at what time. I lean towards Reagan was a very private person who picked his spots to be vulnerable - if ever. Overall - you need to read this book if you are into Presidential history, but allow some time, and breaks. JVD

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