Book Review “My Father at 100” by Ron Reagan

A biography book written by Ron Reagan of Ronald Reagan, his father and the one of greatest Presidents of United States. Although I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of Ronald Reagan but I must admit he did a lot of good during one of the lowest-sentiment period (1980 to 1988) of the United States, when a deep recession took hold of country. His perpetual optimism for the United States and its value are infectious.

The author, being the genealogist of the family, went to great details of the grand parents and parents of Ronald Reagan and his Irish root. Born to an alcoholic shoe-salesman father (Jack) and an ever optimistic mother (Nellie), Ron lived through cycles of poverty during the Great Depression and so-so time. His obsession with football and swimming paved the way to his broadcasting career. Being a lifeguard, Ronald Reagan rescued 77 people during his 3~4-year stint, helping to pay for his schooling at Eureka college. This was where he stroke the interest of public life when he gave a speech to an organized strike of students after a severe funding-related reduction of classes.

It’s interesting that the author remembered his dad mostly through sports related interaction – football, swimming, and etc – the macho stuff. Though Ron Reagan is a liberal, much to the dismay of his father, he remained a staunch supporter his dad throughout his Presidency. He described the funny story of how his dad remain calm and continued to discussed the history of their house with his soon-to-be daughter-in-law when their house was nearly burned down by the wild fire.

The tell-tale signs of his Alzheimer were already showing in the 2nd term of Ronald Reagan after surviving the assassination. Sadly, at the end the disease consumes this great man, leaving very little for him to reflect on.

The author did a great job of capturing the essence of Ronald Reagan, shaped by his difficult upbringing and influence of his mother. Of course, his drive to achieve and his communication/acting talents propelled him to be as best he could be – a great US President. A good book long on facts and stories and short on politics – very refreshing.