RONNIE & NANCY: Their Path to the White House—1911 to 1980
Release date: 09/01/2004
This joint biography by Vanity Fair contributor Colacello (Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up ) opens not with a power scene in the White House of the new elected President Reagan, but with a glittering dinner at Le Cirque: Nancy Reagan wore mink, we're told; her friend Betsy Bloomingdale wore sable. So from page one, it's clear that this account will break little new ground regarding the most vital aspect of Ronald Reagan's life: his political evolution and rise to power. Colacello's chief interest is family gossip and the Reagans' interactions with the world's social elites: the aging Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Frank Sinatra, Malcolm Forbes, and Lee and Walter Annenberg, among many others. Throughout the book, vast political generalizations dovetail with energetic name-dropping and a recitation of the Reagans' social calendar. Colacello also focuses on the Reagans' relationships with their children, and some of these details are quite interesting: during the 1970s, Ron Jr. could be heard by neighbors in Pacific Palisades screaming at his mother: "Leave me alone!... All I want is to be left alone." On the political side, Colacello provides a readable but not incisive chronicle of well-known events, almost always adopting Nancy Reagan's point of view vis-à-vis her husband's assistants, associates, allies and enemies (the author had Nancy's cooperation). All told, this account gives far too much space to who had dinner with whom and on which yacht, nearly always to the neglect of more important matters. (Oct. 6)
Forecast: While there are more scholarly volumes on Reagan's life, this will be the popular version, aided by a first serial in Vanity Fair, a Good Morning America appearance and major advertising and promotion.