cover image Reagan's America

Reagan's America

Garry Wills, Gary Wills. Doubleday Books, $19.95 (472pp) ISBN 978-0-385-18286-7

Ambitious and insightful, this study examines aspects of Ronald Reagan's life and career that account for his extraordinary popularity with the American public. Wills, author of Nixon Agonistes and Inventing America, portrays a Reagan whose optimistic personality is in harmony with the deep instincts of Americans. The President, he maintains, embodies the country's values and its collective dreams and memories. In his show-business years, Reagan was ""the voice of midwestern baseball'' and ``the plain-spoken hero of horse epics''; later, as Hollywood union leader and California governor, he was the complete ``company man.'' As President, his simple answers in the face of troubling complexities have let Americans feel positive about themselves. While sometimes overdetailed, Wills's study succeeds admirably in isolating the sources of Reagan's appeal. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC, QPBC and History Book Club alternate. (February 20)