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"Reagan: What Was He Really Like” Book Review


When I first received a copy of this book, I expected to find another – Reagan – as told by people who have made a living “knowing” and “remembering” Ronald Reagan compilation. You know the usual suspects. Upon exploring the Table of Contents, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I’d never even heard of most the people offering accounts of the “Real Ronald Reagan” therein. This book is – Reagan – as remembered by the everyday people that he interacted with – the chicken farmer / pilot who helped then candidate Reagan get over his reservations about flying and puddle-jump the future President from town to town across California, the receptionist that manned the CA Governor’s front desk, and the scheduler who balanced the precious time of a man that would one day lead this great nation. The book, and the respective accounts, offer a never-before-seen to this Reagan enthusiast look into the world of Reagan – before he reached iconic status. The end result is a book unlike any I have read on the Republican great and one I’d wholeheartedly recommend to anyone interested in learning more about the Gipper.

My favorite anecdote from the book comes from a California Highway Patrol Officer turned member of Reagan’s Security Detail – Dale Rowlee.


“While I was still in uniform, in the first days of the administration, I would go pick up the governor in the morning and we had the old Cadillac limousine that had been Governor Brown’s car. It was an older, well-used Cadillac, (old, tired and poorly maintained being the operative words) and driving into the office, we came down Capitol Avenue, right towards the Capitol Buidling – and the car died at 16th and Capitol Avenue! In the intersection – I mean it just DIED!


Now- the Cad limo had quit and I’m sitting in the middle of the intersection – just me and the popular new Governor of California – I got out of the car and started to push it out of the intersection – and the governor got out on the other side – and we’re both pushing it. We pushed the car out of the intersection, over to the curb, and locked it up and The Man and I walked down Capitol Avenue – right down through the park – up the steps and into the Governor’s Office! I mean this was the security I was embarrassed and worried. It was laughable, now!”


How many of today’s politicians could you picture pushing a limo through an intersection? Short list, no doubt. Stories like this one are what this book’s all about. If you’re looking for backroom secrets and deal-making sessions on the big decisions of the Cold War, this is not your book. But if you’re looking for a book to shed some light on the man that was the “Real Ronald Reagan”, this book has to move to the top of the list of your must-reads. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am certain you will as well.




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