Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Review - The Age of Reagan

I have been on a quest for many years to read a book about every President of the United States.  I've probably read a book on about half of them.  I've read several books about some Presidents, such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.  It's difficult to get tired of those two intriguing presidents.

I recently finished this book titled The Age of Reagan, A History 1974 - 2008 by Sean Wilentz.  As a child of the early 1970's I have always had a high opinion of Ronald Reagan as my family's position improved significantly under Reagan and times seemed happier for us.  I think I falsely thought that EVERYONE loves Ronald Reagan, except for my grandfater, a die-hard liberal.  I remember when he got mad at my mother for not voting for Michael Dukakis.  Seriously?  That guy was a caricature of himself.  Sean Wilentz is not a person who loves Ronald Reagan.

Wilentz follows Reagan from his time as the head of the Screen Actors Guild, to his election as Governor of California, to his run for President against Ford, to his eventual victory against Jimmy Carter through his Presidency, then his successors Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

The first half or two-thirds of the book were mostly informative and enjoyable.  Then Wilentz starting integrating his opinion into the mix without any attribution or supporting arguments. Plus he had a few grammar errors.  Call the grammar police!  Reagan was evil. Everything that was bad was Reagan's fault.  Things only got better when Clinton became President.  Clinton was a god and and it's the Republicans' fault that bad things happened on Clinton's watch.  And then George W. Bush came along and ruined things all over again.

Anyone who follows politics knows that this sort of dogma is disingenuous.  Both Republicans and Democrats have done terrible things, illegal things, and ruinous things.  Sure, you can pick your hero from one side of the political spectrum, but your guy is no angel.  Lower taxes, screw the poor.  Help businesses, screw the environment.  Protect the country, raise taxes.  Politics is a see-saw and the pundits will vociferously defend their guy, even if their guy is doing the same thing that your guy did previously and attacked you for that.  "Oh, but this is different."  Don't be fooled.  It's all the same.

So in summary, I think I need to read another book about Reagan.  I didn't finish this book with a happy accomplished feeling.  Sean Wilentz is a good writer.  He maintained my attention throughout the book.  But as far as I'm concerned, Wilentz is just a hack for the left.  Onto the next book.

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