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Download Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan Audiobook, by Edmund Morris Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (773 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Edmund Morris Narrator: Edmund Morris Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2012 ISBN: 9780307943637
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This book, the only biography ever authorized by a sitting President--yet written with complete interpretive freedom--is as revolutionary in method as it is formidable in scholarship. 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. Morris developed a fascination for the genial yet inscrutable President and, after Reagan's landslide reelection in 1984, put aside the second volume of his life of Roosevelt to become an observing eye and ear at the White House.

Coming and going with Reagan's benign approval ("I'm not going to ride up San Juan Hill for you"), Morris found the President to be a man of extraordinary power and mystery. Although the historic early achievements were plain to see--the restoration of American optimism and patriotism, a repowering of the national economy, a massive arms buildup deliberately forcing the "Evil Empire" of Soviet Communism to come to terms--nobody, let alone Reagan himself, could explain how he succeeded in shaping events to his will. And when Reagan's second term came to grips with some of the most fundamental moral issues of the late twentieth century--at Bitburg and Bergen-Belsen, at Geneva and Reykjavík,publicly outside the Brandenburg Gate ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"), and deep within the mother monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church, Morris realized that he had taken on a subject of epic dimensions.

Thus began a long biographical pilgrimage to the heart of Ronald Reagan's mystery, beginning with his birth in 1911 in the heart of rural Illinois (where he is still remembered as "Dutch," the dreamy son of an alcoholic father and a fiercely religious mother) and progressing through the way stations of an amazingly varied career: young lifeguard (he saved seventy-seven lives), aspiring writer, ace sportscaster, film star, soldier,union leader, corporate spokesman, Governor, and President. Reagan granted Morris full access to his personal papers, including early autobiographical stories and a handwritten White House diary.

The pilgrimage climaxes in 1993, when, in a moment of aching poignancy, Morris escorts his aged and failing subject back up the stairs of his birthplace. "An odd, Dantesque reversal of roles had occurred, as if I were now the leader rather than the led."

During thirteen years of obsessive archival research and interviews with Reagan and his family, friends, admirers and enemies (the book's enormous dramatis personae includes such varied characters as Mikhail Gorbachev, Michelangelo Antonioni, Elie Wiesel, Mario Savio, François Mitterrand, Grant Wood, and Zippy the Pinhead), Morris lived what amounted to a doppelgänger life, studying the young "Dutch," the middle-aged "Ronnie," and the septuagenarian Chief Executive with a closeness and dispassion, not to mention alternations of amusement, horror,and amazed respect, unmatched by any other presidential biographer.

This almost Boswellian closeness led to a unique literary method whereby, in the earlier chapters of Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan,Morris's biographical mind becomes in effect another character in the narrative, recording long-ago events with the same eyewitness vividness (and absolute documentary fidelity) with which the author later describes the great dramas of Reagan's presidency, and the tragedy of a noble life now darkened by dementia.

"I quite understand," the author has remarked, "that readers will have to adjust, at first, to what amounts to a new biographical style. But the revelations of this style, which derive directly from Ronald Reagan's own way of looking at his life, are I think rewarding enough to convince them that one of the most interesting characters in recent American history looms here like a colossus."


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Quotes & Awards

  • A compelling, richly informative, conceptually courageous book that constitutes a relentless pursuit of truth . . . the most insightful book in print about Ronald Reagan and the meaning of his presidency. Baltimore Sun
  • A powerful and surprising portrait of a great world leader. USA Today
  • An absolute page-turner . . . [Morris's] book is not just a riveting read. It takes as its model what is generally regarded as the greatest biography in the English language, James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson. The Washington Post Book World

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Doug Ebeling | 2/4/2014

    " Flawed, as is well-known, yet compelling look at Reagan, particularly interesting regarding his early life. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 RJ | 1/30/2014

    " Difficult to believe how such a good writer (see The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt) could write such dreck here. It's been well documented a lot already, but this was a massive disappointment at the time. The Gipper deserved much better. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Len Washko | 1/29/2014

    " Loved it. Big Reagan fan. Unique bio. Morris gets inside his head, partly fictionalizing, and brilliantly. You'll understand why he was a giant, will remain a giant, and how he bacame such. You cannot understand the 1970s and 1980s if you do not read this. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jordan | 1/28/2014

    " Let me make one thing clear, I am not a fan of Reagan politics, especially how they seem to still haunt us. This book however and in particular the writing style of Edmund Morris is a fantastic read and really makes you like the man, Ronald Reagan. It is also great for learning why Ronald Reagan had the policies he had and also throws in some interesting tid bits such as actor Ronnie being rejected by the California Communist Party. Makes one think.... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Frederic | 1/26/2014

    " That a man of reserved and gelid Amour Propre should be remembered as the most beloved President of the last century is only one of the mysteries that Edmund Morris plumbs in this very idiosyncratic but interesting biography of the aptly named Great Communicator...ironically,those who seek to claim his mantle today are ignorant of,or choose to forget,his record(as opposed to his rhetoric)as a pragmatic politician who made abortion more available,raised taxes,increased the debt ceiling more than a dozen times,traded Arms for Hostages,jaw-boned with the Evil Empire and generally Flew-By-The-Seat-Of-His-Pants in Diplomacy with very mixed results...while not a hagiography,"Dutch" shows on every page the affection that Morris felt for a man who was idolised by millions but known by very few,if any...the last few years in office are sketched briefly but effectively as Reagan deteriorates physically and mentally giving rise to an earned pity for him that I would have thought impossible to evoke...wife Nancy and son Ron contribute many interviews that help humanise,as far as possible,the Riddle Wrapped in an Enigma that was Ronald Reagan... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cindy | 1/25/2014

    " This is partly fiction. I was disappointed to learn it was not all accurate. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim Golden | 1/21/2014

    " Fascinating book, about the greatest President of my life time and one of the best in the history of this Country! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Matt | 1/19/2014

    " I don't know if this was the writing style, which came highly recommended, but I couldn't get past it. Too slow of a start, but perhaps sometime I will pick it back up again. It IS intriguing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bill | 1/18/2014

    " Quite a bizarre take on a great President. I enjoyed it, but found the author a bit harsh. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marlene | 1/5/2014

    " I found this a bit difficult to read. The author was trying to be clever, but I sometimes felt like it was an autobiography rather than a biography of President Reagan. However, there certainly are some interesting insights into Ronald Reagan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James Harper | 1/2/2014

    " It is kind of slobbery and praise worthy. The author tries to prove his closeness to RR over the years. It does show some of his frailities and problems in his administration. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maggie Aquaro | 1/2/2014

    " A long, hard read... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Scott | 12/29/2013

    " Strange book for a biography. Read this one with a sense of humor. Morris writes himself in as a fictional character in Reagan's life - not one of my favorite biographical devices, that's for sure. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Judy | 12/23/2013

    " I greatly admire Edmund Morris and have really liked every book that I have read by him--this one not so much. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jim | 12/16/2013

    " Morris wrote way too much about himself in here. Ruined the book for me. I don't think I ever finished it - or if I did, it was completely forgettable. Yuck. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tracey Leger-hornby | 12/7/2013

    " Never finished it! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Michael | 7/24/2013

    " Just plain awful...You would think with all the access he had to Reagan that he could have come up with a better biography. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donnie Edgemon | 4/1/2013

    " Morris's insertion of himself into Reagan's biography is pretty weird, but the book is the most comprehensive Reagan bio I've read, and a pretty easy read for such a long book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karamagi | 11/10/2012

    " I didn't trully enjoy Morris's 'new journalism' approach, of basically intertwining his life story with that of Ronald Reagan. The book is enormously heavy and hard to get through because of it, and is essentially two books in one. Some may like it, I didn't. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shannon Mayne | 3/25/2012

    " If you can get past the style (fictional narrator) of this book, the content is fantastic. I have read a few books on Reagan and I greatly enjoyed this one. "

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About the Author
Author Edmund Morris

Edmund Morris grew up in Kenya where he developed a fascination with America in general and Theodore Roosevelt in particular. His life-long interest in the man led him to this full-scale study, four years in the making. Much of the manuscript was written in the library of the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site. Formerly a contributing editor of the New York Times, he lives inNew York.