The triumph of Nancy Reagan

Karen Tumulty, 1955-

Book - 2021

"The definitive biography of the fiercely vigilant and politically astute First Lady who shaped one of the most consequential presidencies of the 20th century: Nancy Reagan"--

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Subjects
Genres
Biography
Biographies
Published
New York, NY : Simon & Schuster 2021.
Edition
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
viii, 662 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 585-631) and index.
ISBN
9781501165191
1501165194
Main Author
Karen Tumulty, 1955- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* This biography of Nancy Reagan, fortieth First Lady of the U.S., seemingly recounts every known detail of this driven, complicated woman's life. Interviews, society columns, previously published accounts, personal letters, mind-boggling minutiae, and even state documents from the Reagan Presidential Library inform scenarios that often refute versions of events from Reagan's 1989 autobiography or stepdaughter Patti's 1992 tell-all. Pages are filled with names of movie stars and politicians, and, beginning around page 75, Ronnie. There's information about Ronald Reagan's pre-Nancy life, and then their marriage, a mutual love affair that excluded others, including their own children. As First Lady, Reagan was known for being strategic, intuitive, and fiercely protective of her husband, a private person hiding behind a pretense of unflappable good humor. Chapters detail how Nancy persistently assisted and manipulated her husband's political career, and explore her reputation as a kingmaker who exerted profound influence over matters large and small, increasingly so as her husband succumbed to Alzheimer's. By the end of her life, the public persona of social-climbing Fancy Nancy had been replaced by an almost universal respect. Author Tumulty, a political columnist, does offer commentary and analysis, but mostly lets the facts tell the story. Expect high demand. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* This biography of Nancy Reagan, fortieth First Lady of the U.S., seemingly recounts every known detail of this driven, complicated woman's life. Interviews, society columns, previously published accounts, personal letters, mind-boggling minutiae, and even state documents from the Reagan Presidential Library inform scenarios that often refute versions of events from Reagan's 1989 autobiography or stepdaughter Patti's 1992 tell-all. Pages are filled with names of movie stars and politicians, and, beginning around page 75, Ronnie. There's information about Ronald Reagan's pre-Nancy life, and then their marriage, a mutual love affair that excluded others, including their own children. As First Lady, Reagan was known for being strategic, intuitive, and fiercely protective of her husband, a private person hiding behind a pretense of unflappable good humor. Chapters detail how Nancy persistently assisted and manipulated her husband's political career, and explore her reputation as a kingmaker who exerted profound influence over matters large and small, increasingly so as her husband succumbed to Alzheimer's. By the end of her life, the public persona of social-climbing Fancy Nancy had been replaced by an almost universal respect. Author Tumulty, a political columnist, does offer commentary and analysis, but mostly lets the facts tell the story. Expect high demand. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Washington Post columnist Tumulty debuts with an astute reassessment of former first lady Nancy Reagan (1921–2016), a woman who "America never quite figured out." Born Anne Francis Robbins in New York City, Nancy "was the product of a broken marriage" who spent ages two to eight in the care of relatives while her actor mother traveled for work. After her mother's remarriage to neurosurgeon Loyal Davis, Nancy took her stepfather's last name and trained as a nurse's aide before landing her first stage acting role thanks to a family friend. She moved to Hollywood in 1949 and, according to Tumulty, quickly set her sights on newly divorced actor Ronald Reagan as a future husband. Adopting an episodic approach to Nancy's White House years, Tumulty highlights the "ghastly scene" that awaited the first lady at the hospital after the president was shot in 1980, and her role in running the "rescue operation" that prevented the Iran-Contra scandal from upending Reagan's second term. Tumulty touches on dark family dynamics, including the impact of Nancy's "anxiety and insecurity" on her children, but the book's greatest strength is the nuanced, in-depth portrayal of the Reagans' relationship and Nancy's fierce stewardship of her husband's political goals. The result is a complex and engrossing portrait of one of the 20th century's most quietly influential political figures. Agent: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon Literary. (Apr.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A Washington Post political columnist presents a portrait of the former First Lady that includes coverage of her traumatic early childhood, marriage to Ronald Reagan and crucial role in shaping the Reagan White House. 100,000 first printing. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"The definitive biography of the fiercely vigilant and politically astute First Lady who shaped one of the most consequential presidencies of the 20th century: Nancy Reagan"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The definitive biography of the fiercely vigilant and politically astute First Lady who shaped one of the most consequential presidencies of the 20th century: Nancy Reagan.The made-in-Hollywood marriage of Ronald and Nancy Reagan is more than a love story'it's the partnership that made him president. Of the pair, Nancy was the one with the sharper instincts about people, the superior radar for trouble, and the keen sense of how to secure his place in history. The only person in the world to whom Ronald Reagan felt truly close, Nancy understood how to foster his strengths and compensate for his weaknesses. Neither timid nor apologetic about wielding her power, Nancy Reagan made herself a place in history.But that confidence took years to develop. Nancy's traumatic early childhood instilled in her a lifelong anxiety and a craving for security. Born into a broken marriage, she spent seven years yearning for the absent mother who abandoned her to pursue an acting career. When she met Ronnie, who had a difficult upbringing of his own, the two fractured halves became whole. And as Ronnie turned from acting to politics, she did too, helping build the scaffolding of his rise and cultivating the wealthy and powerful figures who would help pave his way. Not only was Nancy crucial in shaping Ronald's White House team and in softening her husband's rhetoric, she became an unseen force pushing her husband toward what she saw as his grandest purpose'to shake his image as a warmonger and leave behind a more peaceful world. This book explores the multifaceted character of Nancy Reagan and reveals new details surrounding the tumultuous presidency. The Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty spent four years interviewing the people who knew this couple best and draws on overlooked archives, letters, memoirs, and White House records, compiling the most extensive biography of Nancy Reagan yet. From the AIDS epidemic to tensions with the Soviets and the war on drugs, this book shows how Nancy Reagan became one of the most influential First Ladies of the century.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A Washington Post Notable Book The definitive biography of the fiercely vigilant and politically astute First Lady who shaped one of the most consequential presidencies of the 20th century: Nancy Reagan.The made-in-Hollywood marriage of Ronald and Nancy Reagan is more than a love story—it’s the partnership that made him president. Of the pair, Nancy was the one with the sharper instincts about people, the superior radar for trouble, and the keen sense of how to secure his place in history. The only person in the world to whom Ronald Reagan felt truly close, Nancy understood how to foster his strengths and compensate for his weaknesses. Neither timid nor apologetic about wielding her power, Nancy Reagan made herself a place in history.But that confidence took years to develop. Nancy’s traumatic early childhood instilled in her a lifelong anxiety and a craving for security. Born into a broken marriage, she spent seven years yearning for the absent mother who abandoned her to pursue an acting career. When she met Ronnie, who had a difficult upbringing of his own, the two fractured halves became whole. And as Ronnie turned from acting to politics, she did too, helping build the scaffolding of his rise and cultivating the wealthy and powerful figures who would help pave his way. Not only was Nancy crucial in shaping Ronald’s White House team and in softening her husband’s rhetoric, she became an unseen force pushing her husband toward what she saw as his grandest purpose—to shake his image as a warmonger and leave behind a more peaceful world. This book explores the multifaceted character of Nancy Reagan and reveals new details surrounding the tumultuous presidency. The Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty spent four years interviewing the people who knew this couple best and draws on overlooked archives, letters, memoirs, and White House records, compiling the most extensive biography of Nancy Reagan yet. From the AIDS epidemic to tensions with the Soviets and the war on drugs, this book shows how Nancy Reagan became one of the most influential First Ladies of the century.