by Garry Wills ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 16, 1987
A timely and brilliant analysis that presages and enlightens the current Presidential crisis in foreign policy. Written with all the wit, originality and intelligence that Wills brought to lnventing America, Nixon Agonistes and The Kennedy Imprisonment, this book, though cutting a swath through a now-familiar collection of mythopoeic falsehoods, serves not to indict Ronald Reagan, but to unearth the roots of his indestructible and charismatic faith. Like Twain--thereof the subtitle--Reagan's myth of himself begins with an ""idyllic"" boyhood in the Midwest, but Twain's vision was colored by the greed, con games, religious hypocrisy, racism and violence that Reagan screened out. One source of Reagan's unshakeable optimism was a career in an industry of phenomenal growth. He was born the year the first Hollywood studio opened, began in radio, starred in films, and hosted television programs. Things got better. The center held. It becomes clear that Reagan did not triter his past through nostalgia to create his individualist, innocent myth of himself; even as he lived it, he was filtering his life's complexities into anecdotes, contradictions into triumphs. Wills caps his arguments with aphorisms that crackle with electricity. Why do Americans forgive Reagan's demonstrably false anecdotes and statistics? ""We give a man latitude when he is writing advertisements for heaven."" Reagan is not unlike Disneyland's audioanimatronic Presidents, moving ""artificially but realistically (under the right light), delivering an ancient and beautiful message."" Wills hangs a far more telling sobriquet on SDI than ""Star Wars,"" dubbing it a ""Silver Bullet,"" the ammo of choice when the Lone Ranger would shoot the guns out of the bad guys' hands. Most importantly, whither Iranscam? Foreign policy is confusing and distant to both Reagan and Middle America: ""Reagan's very provincialism formed a bond with his fellow citizens and a bastion for the office."" A provocative, readable, unique account with sources, inspirations and implications far beyond mere politics.
Pub Date: Jan. 16, 1987
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1987
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