The Remarkable Ronald Reagan: Cowboy and Commander in Chief

The Remarkable Ronald ReaganThe Remarkable Ronald Reagan: Cowboy and Commander in Chief. Written by Susan Allen. Illustrated by Leslie Harrington. Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2013. 36 pages. Recommended for ages 5-8. ISBN: 9781621570387.

This new book about Ronald Reagan, written by a former first lady of the State of Virginia, paints Reagan as a fundamentally happy man. He was happy as a child, happy in high school, happy in college, happy working in radio, happy as an actor, happy as governor of California and happy as the president of the United States. His second marriage, to Nancy Davis, made him very happy and lasted from his early 40s until his death. He was very happy at his ranch, “Rancho del Cielo.” One basic message of the book seems to be that in this country children are free to fulfill their dreams, just as Ronald Reagan fulfilled his dreams.

I wish the book had spent more time addressing the development of Reagan’s political views. He started out as a Democrat and became more and more conservative. The book says nothing about Reagan’s interest in free markets or his interest in limited government. Yet Reagan turned the country away from the New Deal and the Great Society. We are still feeling the effects of that turn today.

The book is quite clear that Reagan believed in democracy. It isn’t as clear that he believed in democracy as opposed to communism. At the time, in the Cold War, it was obvious. But now it seems possible that he believed in democracy as opposed to a religious oligarchy.

The illustrations emphasize Reagan’s happiness in life. At the back of the book there’s a three page timeline of Reagan’s life which would be very helpful in report writing. There are also letters that Reagan wrote and a two-page spread of things Ronald Reagan said. The section on more information is unfortunately limited to two websites.

A child from a conservative family would be more comfortable with this book than a child from a liberal family.

I was a child from a liberal family in California when Reagan was governor of California. And I was an adult who had just graduated from a very liberal college when Reagan was elected president. He was reelected when I was a graduate student at Berkeley. I was not a fan of Reagan’s. Still, Reagan had a profound influence on the country. I hope this book will serve to introduce students to that influence.

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tour. For a list of other reviews which are part of the blog tour, go to TLC Book Tours.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review that accurately reflects my thoughts about the book.

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6 thoughts on “The Remarkable Ronald Reagan: Cowboy and Commander in Chief

  1. I must admit when I first saw the subject of your latest review, I was a little concerned. Reagan represents to me both the naivety and cruelty of the American people, who twice voted for a man who helped prop up right-wing dictators in Central America and was a vocal proponent of “trickle-down” economics. But then I read your entire post and realized I need to have the same open-mindedness I ask of others.

    I guess what I’m saying is whether I agree with Reagan or not, he is a part of American political and historical record. As a teacher, parent, or writer its important to present all sides and trust the reader to come to their own conclusions. Of course, if you wanted to follow this book up with a children’s book about life in Nicaragua in the 1980’s, I’m sure no one would object. 🙂

    • I’m interested in your comment about Reagan and the naivety and cruelty of the American people. I was just out of college when he was elected. I tried and tried to make sense of his election. Years later I heard Molly Ivins talk about Sheople, She defined it as sheep like people who follow blindly because they need a leader. I think that’s why Reagan was elected. He was a strong leader: “The Great Communicator.”

      You’re right, Reagan is part of the American political landscape. I’m using present tense consciously here, We are still feeling the profound shift away from the politics of the mid-20th century. My current mantra comes from a Bruce Springsteen song “Wherever this flag is flown we take care of our own.” Reagan led us away from that way of thinking about our fellow citizens. Not to mention his foreign policy!

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