To mark the Reagan centenary in 2011, Simon and Schuster is re-releasing the 40th president’s 1990 memoir in several formats, including this enhanced electronic edition.
While this format is up-to-the-minute, the prose and multimedia accompanying it (17 video clips, courtesy of CBS News) are firmly 20th century in origin and outlook. Famous for his sunny disposition, which seemingly spread to the nation like an infectious disease during his two terms in the 1980s, Reagan’s memoir reads like a series of screen treatments for Capra-esque movies starring the author as, alternately, a Jimmy Stewart–like stumbling naïf, and a Gary Cooper–ish man of quiet strength who shoots from the hip and speaks nothing but the plain truth. The videos complement this carefully crafted Reagan image, beginning with his elegiac address to the 1992 Republican convention in which he catalogued the momentous events he had witnessed in his eight decades: two World Wars, the Great Depression, a seething Cold War and the summits he took part in to end it. The clips, including several portions of fawning interviews over the years with Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes, show Reagan in his white Stetson, on his Rancho del Cielo, staring soulfully into First Lady Nancy’s eyes, and doing the political job he always did best: making speeches to adoring audiences who hung on his every word.
It would have been nice to see clips from his Hollywood career, but those who miss the political Ronald Reagan will find the enhanced e-book a suitably worshipful souvenir.