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Extended Audio Sample Reagan: The Life, by H. W. Brands Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: H. W. Brands Narrator: Stephen Hoye Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From master storyteller and New York Times bestselling biographer H. W. Brands, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, comes the first full life of Ronald Reagan since his death.

Ronald Reagan today is a conservative icon, celebrated for transforming the American domestic agenda and playing a crucial part in ending communism in the Soviet Union. In his masterful new biography, H. W. Brands argues that Reagan, along with FDR, was the most consequential president of the twentieth century. Reagan took office at a time when the public sector, after a half century of New Deal liberalism, was widely perceived as bloated and inefficient, an impediment to personal liberty. Reagan sought to restore democracy by bolstering capitalism. In Brands’s telling, how Reagan, who voted four times for FDR, engineered a conservative transformation of American politics is both a riveting personal journey and the story of America in the modern era.

Brands follows Reagan as his ambition for ever larger stages compelled him from a troubled childhood in small-town Illinois to become a radio announcer and then the quintessential public figure of modern America, a movie star. In Hollywood, Reagan edged closer to public service as the president of the Screen Actors’ Guild, before a stalled film career led to his unlikely reinvention as the voice of General Electric and a spokesman for corporate America. Reagan follows its subject on his improbable political rise, from the 1960s, when he was first elected governor of California, to his triumphant election in 1980 as president of the United States. Brands employs archival sources not available to previous biographers and dozens of interviews with surviving members of the administration.

The result is an exciting narrative and a fresh understanding of a crucially important president and his era.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “H. W. Brands has produced an extraordinary body of historical and biographical works. This is his masterpiece.”

    Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

  • “With characteristic skill and insight, H. W. Brands has painted a compelling portrait of a ubiquitous yet still-misunderstood American.”

    Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

  • “The first major look at the fortieth president since his death in 2004…Effectively reveals the man without strained armchair psychology.”

    AARP, The Magazine

  • “Puts the reader inside the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room, and the house in Reykjavík, Iceland, where Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev debated the fate of the world and laid the groundwork for the end of the Cold War.”

    USA Today

  • “A lucid and witty writer, Mr. Brands…has a talent for letting his sources speak for themselves…[and] recounts Reagan’s triumphs and the scandals evenhandedly.”


  • “Brands tells a briskly paced story…This astute biography is further evidence that the fortieth president continues to cast a long shadow over a still largely conservative political order.”

    Washington Post

  • “Thorough, evenhanded, and insightful.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “[A] monumental life of the president whom some worship and some despise—with Brands providing plenty of justification for both reactions…An exemplary work of history.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “A superb American historian has brought us a fascinating, judicious, original, and concise biography of one of the most important presidents in American history.”

    Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage

  • “Ronald Reagan understood what was best about America, and expected the best for it—which is why he led it so successfully. In Reagan, H. W. Brands expresses, with deep, deft strokes, what will become the accepted view of a great man.”

    Richard Brookhiser, author of Founders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln

  • “Studded with fresh insights, empathetic and yet constructively critical, it may well be H. W. Brands’s finest book. Certainly it confirms Reagan’s place as the conservative FDR, a transforming leader whose influence on his country’s politics and governance is arguably greater than the day he left the White House.”

    Richard Norton Smith, author of On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller

  • “National treasure H. W. Brands…completes his biographical tour d’horizon of twentieth-century politics with this superb life of Ronald Reagan.…How did we get to today’s angry, polarized nation? Read Brands’s life of Reagan, and find out.”

    John A. Farrell, author of Clarence Darrow

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • An AARP Magazine Editors’ Pick for June 2015
  • A Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015 for Nonfiction
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