Selling Ronald Reagan: The Emergence of a President by Gerard DeGroot - review by Tim Stanley

Tim Stanley

The Right Stuff

Selling Ronald Reagan: The Emergence of a President

By

I B Tauris 311pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

Ronald Reagan was a canny old thing. In the 1966 primary to select the Republican candidate for governor of California, his opponent complained that he always stole the show at photo calls: ‘They would put us in line for a photograph … as soon as the photographer was about to snap the picture, Reagan would put up his hand like this [raises forefinger into the air] and make it appear that all of us were deferring to him and looking to him for advice. Well, this was the actor’s ability to steal a scene.’

Reagan won the nomination. Gerard DeGroot’s account of Reagan’s subsequent campaign for the governorship makes the compelling case that he won not in spite of being a mediocre Hollywood actor but because of it. Rivals wrote him off. The incumbent Democratic governor, Pat Brown, a self-described ‘responsible liberal’ and Reagan’s

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

The Incomparible Monsignor

Kafka Drawings

Follow Literary Review on Twitter