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Movie Nights with the Reagans: A Memoir

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Former special advisor and press secretary to President Ronald Reagan shares an intimate, behind-the-scenes look inside the Reagan presidency—told through the movies they watched together every week at Camp David. What did President Ronald Reagan think of Rocky IV? How did the Matthew Broderick film WarGames inform America’s missile defense system? What Michael J. Fox movie Former special advisor and press secretary to President Ronald Reagan shares an intimate, behind-the-scenes look inside the Reagan presidency—told through the movies they watched together every week at Camp David. What did President Ronald Reagan think of Rocky IV? How did the Matthew Broderick film WarGames inform America’s missile defense system? What Michael J. Fox movie made such an impression on President Reagan that he felt compelled to mention it in a speech to the Joint Session of Congress? Over the course of eight years, Mark Weinberg travelled to Camp David each weekend with Ronald and Nancy Reagan. He was one of a few select members invited into the Aspen Lodge, where the First Family screened both contemporary and classic movies on Friday and Saturday nights. They watched movies in times of triumph, such as the aftermath of Reagan’s 1984 landslide, and after moments of tragedy, such as the explosion of the Challenger and the shooting of the President and Press Secretary Jim Brady. Weinberg’s unparalleled access offers a rare glimpse of the Reagans—unscripted, relaxed, unburdened by the world, with no cameras in sight. Each chapter discusses a legendary film, what the Reagans thought of it, and provides warm anecdotes and untold stories about his family and the administration. From Reagan’s pranks on the Secret Service to his thoughts on the parallels between Hollywood and Washington, Weinberg paints a full picture of the president The New Yorker once famously dubbed “The Unknowable.” Movie Nights with the Reagans is a nostalgic journey through the 1980s and its most iconic films, seen through the eyes of one of Hollywood’s former stars: one who was simultaneously transforming the Republican Party, the American economy, and the course of the Cold War.


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Former special advisor and press secretary to President Ronald Reagan shares an intimate, behind-the-scenes look inside the Reagan presidency—told through the movies they watched together every week at Camp David. What did President Ronald Reagan think of Rocky IV? How did the Matthew Broderick film WarGames inform America’s missile defense system? What Michael J. Fox movie Former special advisor and press secretary to President Ronald Reagan shares an intimate, behind-the-scenes look inside the Reagan presidency—told through the movies they watched together every week at Camp David. What did President Ronald Reagan think of Rocky IV? How did the Matthew Broderick film WarGames inform America’s missile defense system? What Michael J. Fox movie made such an impression on President Reagan that he felt compelled to mention it in a speech to the Joint Session of Congress? Over the course of eight years, Mark Weinberg travelled to Camp David each weekend with Ronald and Nancy Reagan. He was one of a few select members invited into the Aspen Lodge, where the First Family screened both contemporary and classic movies on Friday and Saturday nights. They watched movies in times of triumph, such as the aftermath of Reagan’s 1984 landslide, and after moments of tragedy, such as the explosion of the Challenger and the shooting of the President and Press Secretary Jim Brady. Weinberg’s unparalleled access offers a rare glimpse of the Reagans—unscripted, relaxed, unburdened by the world, with no cameras in sight. Each chapter discusses a legendary film, what the Reagans thought of it, and provides warm anecdotes and untold stories about his family and the administration. From Reagan’s pranks on the Secret Service to his thoughts on the parallels between Hollywood and Washington, Weinberg paints a full picture of the president The New Yorker once famously dubbed “The Unknowable.” Movie Nights with the Reagans is a nostalgic journey through the 1980s and its most iconic films, seen through the eyes of one of Hollywood’s former stars: one who was simultaneously transforming the Republican Party, the American economy, and the course of the Cold War.

30 review for Movie Nights with the Reagans: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    This was kind of sappy, but also sweet, and I am very interested in the concept/structure of the book. To say the least, it's a lot easier these days to get nostalgic for the Reagan White House. (Imagine that.) Former Reagan press aide Mark Weinberg digs into the archives that note what films the Reagans watched on what dates (mostly at Camp David on weekends); as Hollywood stars, they were committed to keeping up with the latest movies, even if they sometimes blanched at the content. Weinberg r This was kind of sappy, but also sweet, and I am very interested in the concept/structure of the book. To say the least, it's a lot easier these days to get nostalgic for the Reagan White House. (Imagine that.) Former Reagan press aide Mark Weinberg digs into the archives that note what films the Reagans watched on what dates (mostly at Camp David on weekends); as Hollywood stars, they were committed to keeping up with the latest movies, even if they sometimes blanched at the content. Weinberg remembers some of their reactions (he was in the room, with other staffers, watching) and lets the historical record supply some context about what was going on in the world and how the movies resonated with both the president and the times. Weinberg makes some early stumbles about the movies themselves that had me fact-checking (e.g., the working women in "9 to 5" do not use rotary phones; there's a great scene of Lily Tomlin masterfully using a phone with an array of push-buttons on it ["Violet Newstead, please hold, Violet Newstead, please hold..."]; and the Warner Bros. logo preceding "Oh God Book II" would not have been the classic/retro blue shield logo, it would have been the modernized Saul Bass logo in use at the time), but after a few chapters I stopped nitpicking and enjoyed the book a lot more -- mostly for its first-hand recollections. Weinberg certainly was a devoted employee. Something I didn't know: After leaving office, Reagan was offered a role in "Back to the Future III" (the Wild West one) and really gave it thought before declining. He wanted to do it (and would have been great, probably) but felt it beneath the stature of the office he held. Now we have a reality TV star as president who cares mainly about fame and ratings.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura Harrison

    Your political affiliation doesn't really matter with this quick read. The author viewed films with the Reagans for 8 years at Camp David. The movies range from Ghostbusters to War Games to Ferris Bueller's Day off. A fun, interesting and nostalgic book. Your political affiliation doesn't really matter with this quick read. The author viewed films with the Reagans for 8 years at Camp David. The movies range from Ghostbusters to War Games to Ferris Bueller's Day off. A fun, interesting and nostalgic book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jared Wilson

    Somewhat uneven but nevertheless enjoyable. By one of Reagan's communications officers and a close friend of both President and Mrs. Reagan, it uses different movies screened weekly by the President during his tenure -- mostly at Camp David but also at the White House -- as launching points to coverage of the presidency and also private moments with the Reagan family. As a child of the Reagan era weened on many of the eighties films covered -- Back to the Future, Red Dawn, Ferris Bueller's Day O Somewhat uneven but nevertheless enjoyable. By one of Reagan's communications officers and a close friend of both President and Mrs. Reagan, it uses different movies screened weekly by the President during his tenure -- mostly at Camp David but also at the White House -- as launching points to coverage of the presidency and also private moments with the Reagan family. As a child of the Reagan era weened on many of the eighties films covered -- Back to the Future, Red Dawn, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ghostbusters, etc. -- I really liked the pop culture lens. My favorite chapters were on "E.T.," mainly b/c Steinberg spends a fair amount of time sensitively outlining the significance of that film, and on "Rocky IV," which internally and informally had some influence on Cold War relations. The book also covers some movies Reagan himself starred in (Bedtime for Bonzo, Knute Rockne: All American), including the one where he and Mrs. Reagan (then Nancy Davis) played loved interests -- Hellcats of the Navy. The chapters I enjoyed the most had clear connections between the movie and the Reagans' reactions, as well as Steinberg's personal friendship with both. The ones I liked least, the movies covered felt more like a pretense to talk about things unconnected. I especially appreciated, surprisingly so, the insider's perspective on the private lives of the Reagans and their personalities. They both seem like very genuine, kindhearted people, and Steinberg is an obviously loyal friend and fan of both. He was particularly close with Mrs. Reagan, and the President was extraordinarily gracious to Steinberg at numerous points in his career, even hiring him after his presidency to work in his California office. A good read for fans of either the Reagan presidency or 80's films (as cultural artifacts) -- or both.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    No presidency is ever fully endorsed by the political parties or the American people, and Ronald Reagan sure did take his criticism, but he took it all in stride and did what he felt at the time, was best for the people and the country he served. This book, written by Reagan’s spokesman, advisor, and speechwriter, leaves out the politics as much as possible and instead, focuses on the relaxed and informal “movie nights” that the Reagans held nearly every weekend at the secluded Camp David. Of cou No presidency is ever fully endorsed by the political parties or the American people, and Ronald Reagan sure did take his criticism, but he took it all in stride and did what he felt at the time, was best for the people and the country he served. This book, written by Reagan’s spokesman, advisor, and speechwriter, leaves out the politics as much as possible and instead, focuses on the relaxed and informal “movie nights” that the Reagans held nearly every weekend at the secluded Camp David. Of course, there are parallels drawn here—the movies that influenced politics and public opinion, and the politics and public opinion reflected in the movies. From the old Hollywood classics starring the man himself (and one with his wife as well)—Bedtime for Bonzo, Hellcats of the Navy—to the iconic movies of the 80”s—9 to 5, On Golden Pond, Top Gun—Reagan had his own opinions about not just how the movies had changed since he had been in the industry, but also about the messages those films delivered. What came through the story was a softer side of Reagan and, of course, his deep love for Nancy in these quiet weekends and then the stronger, more forceful and determined side as he re-entered the work week as President of the United States. It was an interesting read, thought provoking, and pointed out that history is always in the making; even if it seems to repeat itself, and that Hollywood has an affect on public political views. I wanted to grab a bowl of popcorn and reminisce about the movies I remember seeing in that time—and like Reagan, I find myself wishing that movies could be what they once were.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Title: Movie Nights with the Reagans Author: Mark Weinberg Read by: George Newbern with an Introduction by the Author Publisher: Simon & Schuster Length: Approximately 6 hours and 29 minutes Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster. Thank-you! Author Mark Weinberg was the former Press Secretary and Special Advisor to President Ronald Reagan. He was with him for all eight years of Reagan’s term and also worked for him in California after his Presidency had ended. Weinberg loved working for Reagan and Title: Movie Nights with the Reagans Author: Mark Weinberg Read by: George Newbern with an Introduction by the Author Publisher: Simon & Schuster Length: Approximately 6 hours and 29 minutes Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster. Thank-you! Author Mark Weinberg was the former Press Secretary and Special Advisor to President Ronald Reagan. He was with him for all eight years of Reagan’s term and also worked for him in California after his Presidency had ended. Weinberg loved working for Reagan and especially loved their weekend trips to Camp David where they enjoyed movies nights together. This book had a very interesting concept. It discussed the Reagans and the presidency within the frame of different movies that the author watched with the Reagans on the weekend at Camp David. It was unique and I felt a very enjoyable journey through the 1980’s in film and politics. I also enjoyed when they would watch vintage Reagan films and discuss how they were made. I loved hearing about how Reagan was so considerate and thoughtful of staff. He would travel and celebrate Christmas the day after Christmas so the staff could all be with their family on the holiday. He also would retire to the night with Nancy to allow staff to go home for the night. He sadly also had to give up buying cards personally for Nancy and attending church weekly. He didn’t want church goers to have to go through metal detectors and for the church to become a target. Reading about Reagan’s common courtesy, thoughtfulness, and real love for the people made me very nostalgic for past times. I know I probably think of the 1980’s with rose colored glasses as that was the time period of my childhood, but I wish that we could have such a president again. I may not agree with all of his policy decisions, but Reagan was a great leader and a great man. It’s been awhile since I had read anything about the Reagans and I had forgotten that the assassination attempt was so early in the Presidency. It was a very scary experience and it was interesting to learn more about it. I especially loved the author’s disregard for Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Reagan book which this author stated was full of inaccuracies. I liked how the book talked about the love between the Reagans and the life that they had after the presidency. The author had a very unique experience. Narrator George Newborn was an excellent narrator and I really enjoyed the introduction by the author himself. This was a great audiobook to listen to on my commute! Overall, this was a truly enjoyable audiobook with a unique premise. It ended too soon for me – I wanted to listen to more! This review was first posted on my blog at: https://lauragerold.blogspot.com/2018...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mediaman

    I wasn't that excited about reading this book until I opened the pages--it's quite a surprising gem that is one of the most unique memoirs ever. And it's so well researched and constructed that the author must have spent years putting together the pieces in a way that make it part political history and part Hollywood review. While the basic concept is the movies that were shown at Camp David on the weekends, the book actually is mostly about the author's ten years as a political assistant with th I wasn't that excited about reading this book until I opened the pages--it's quite a surprising gem that is one of the most unique memoirs ever. And it's so well researched and constructed that the author must have spent years putting together the pieces in a way that make it part political history and part Hollywood review. While the basic concept is the movies that were shown at Camp David on the weekends, the book actually is mostly about the author's ten years as a political assistant with the Reagans. He provides a lot of insights into the couple, particularly during some key political periods. He does have a tendency to make them sound a bit too perfect but his passion helps readers better understand some of the flawed media propaganda about the Reagans. I would like to have read even more inside stories or to see some specific issues addressed (like Mrs. Reagan's astrologer). Weinberg doesn't address anything that would make either of the Reagans look bad and, like any good press officer, uses the book to improve their images. There's a lot of movie history in the book but actually not much about how the Reagans reacted to the films they watched. Weinberg said that after every movie the couple would critique a film and allow staff to ask them questions, but almost no anecdotes from those conversations are included. Again, more would have been better. There are going to be some that say this is a bit of a whitewash of the Reagan era. It's actually refreshing to have a positive approach instead of a liberal author ripping that administration apart. All of the major 80s films mentioned in the book seem to supposedly reflect Ronald Reagan's impact on the country, but some of them are a stretch. I've never looked at Ferris Bueller and thought of the Gipper's political policies before! I guess I will now after reading the book. Mark Weinberg needs to write more books. He's a great writer and knows how to use research to construct chapters beyond his first person experiences. But the next book he should write should be a much deeper, more detailed memoir into his ten years with the Reagans. He was with them for virtually their entire eight years in the White House and by their sides sometimes seven days a week. As a young single Republican with access to the most powerful people in the world he is leaving a lot out of this book. If he could drop his PR spin and insistence on making them look like saints he could provide a valuable service by giving America insight into those wonderful years. For now this will have to do, and it's great reading. Just don't expect it to be all about the movie nights.

  7. 5 out of 5

    v.

    We often talk about the soundtrack of our lives, but how often do we think about the movies that played during milestones? That's the refreshing approach Mark Weinberg takes in recounting his time working with the Reagans, both in office and after. His heartfelt memories of the Reagans and their movie nights at Camp David give an inside look at life in the White House, as well as a glimpse of the famously close bond the Reagans shared. You don't have to be a politics buff to enjoy this fond look We often talk about the soundtrack of our lives, but how often do we think about the movies that played during milestones? That's the refreshing approach Mark Weinberg takes in recounting his time working with the Reagans, both in office and after. His heartfelt memories of the Reagans and their movie nights at Camp David give an inside look at life in the White House, as well as a glimpse of the famously close bond the Reagans shared. You don't have to be a politics buff to enjoy this fond look back at the man and the movies that defined the 80s. Note: the advance copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Mcbroom

    This was an interesting book. Either dislike or love the Reagans, I have always found the movies people watch are fascinating. Who would have thought Ferris Bueller's Day Off was one of their favorites? Or the movie 9 to 5 started Nancy Reagan on her just say no campaign.? This was an interesting book. Either dislike or love the Reagans, I have always found the movies people watch are fascinating. Who would have thought Ferris Bueller's Day Off was one of their favorites? Or the movie 9 to 5 started Nancy Reagan on her just say no campaign.?

  9. 5 out of 5

    William

    Charming and entertaining look back at the Reagans through the movies they watched at Camp David. Nice anecdotes and occasional glimpses of them as people and ex-movie stars. Very affectionate, but often funny and reflective of the popular conception of Reagan.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jon Schwendinger

    A great book that took me back to ‘80 and it’s movies. Loved learning more about the Reagans. Plus there was no left or right talk.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sonja

    I did enjoy this book and wanted to give it more stars but is not well written. It not only jumps around it is very choppy. A good edit would have done a world of good.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    Movie Nights With The Reagans is a must read for anyone who likes movies or former President Reagan. This was much more than some dry autobiography of Mark Weinberg, a staffer of the Reagan administration. It was actually very interesting and thoughtful because of the unique way he tied his experiences to the informal movie nights hosted by the President. It was an ode to movie making, a glimpse inside the White House, a snapshot of hot political issues in the 1980s, and a love letter to the Rea Movie Nights With The Reagans is a must read for anyone who likes movies or former President Reagan. This was much more than some dry autobiography of Mark Weinberg, a staffer of the Reagan administration. It was actually very interesting and thoughtful because of the unique way he tied his experiences to the informal movie nights hosted by the President. It was an ode to movie making, a glimpse inside the White House, a snapshot of hot political issues in the 1980s, and a love letter to the Reagans. In sum, it was a great read for fans of the Gipper. 
During Reagan's presidency, he spent many weekends at Camp David, and as a reward to the staffers who traveled with him, he hosted a movie night. The viewing was complete with popcorn and commentary, and was eagerly attended. Each chapter focused on a different movie shown at Camp David, described America's reaction to the film, and then related the themes of the film to a relevant issue Reagan addressed during his terms. E.T. The Extraterrestrial, Indian Jones, and Star Wars, were a few of the movies shown, and related to heroism, the Challenger disaster and space program, and national security. 
I thought it was funny when Reagan watched Back To The Future, where Doc Brown can't believe Reagan, who used to be an actor was the president. Throughout the book, Reagan's former profession as an actor in Hollywood was highlighted as he opined about the differences between movies made in the 1980s and the ones he was in. He was a true movie buff who enjoyed making movies and watching them, and that made reading about the showings fun because I wanted to hear his opinion on the beloved movies he watched. I also loved reading stories about Reagan's acting career and interactions with other celebrities. 
The book was a careful balance of the author's interactions with the President, and Reagan's reactions to current movies. Overall, this book described Reagan not just as a charismatic and caring leader, but as a kind and thoughtful man who cared about his staff. I loved this so much more than I thought I would! I highly recommend it!


  13. 5 out of 5

    Nolan

    I'm growing increasingly leary of memoirs filled with angst and whatever else so many are filled with these days. I knew when I saw the title of this one that I would enjoy it. The author worked closely with the Reagans during their time in the White House, and one of the benefits of his job included visiting Camp David with them on weekends and watching movies with them. They apparently regularly scheduled movie nights where they could look at new releases and some of their old classic favorite I'm growing increasingly leary of memoirs filled with angst and whatever else so many are filled with these days. I knew when I saw the title of this one that I would enjoy it. The author worked closely with the Reagans during their time in the White House, and one of the benefits of his job included visiting Camp David with them on weekends and watching movies with them. They apparently regularly scheduled movie nights where they could look at new releases and some of their old classic favorites. The author does a nice job of tying the movies they watched together with actual events in the administration. He writes of the influence of "Chariots of Fire" on the former president, and he points out the time Reagan quoted from "Back to the Future" as part of a State of the Union message. This is an affectionate portrait of a very public couple who had problems so many people have--children who not only see the world differently but are vocal almost to the point of being hostile in expressing their differences, to name only one. It is a book that focuses on love and respect--the love the couple had for one another and for the industry in which they both worked and the respect of the author who started out as a normal guy from Cleveland and became someone quite different thanks to the Reagans. So perhaps you've grown up with an extreme dislike for everything Reagan ever stood for; I respect that. But if that's the reason you use for leaving this book unopened, such a decision would be sad indeed. This is not a book about politics or administration events. It's a book about how the movies of the '80s touched or influenced the Reagans in some way or other. If nothing else, you may come away with a deeper knowledge of '80s movies than you've had. If you grew up when those movies were new, this would at least guide you into some interesting memories of your own.

  14. 5 out of 5

    James Carter

    Although I enjoyed reading the stories of Movie Nights with the Reagans, I was extremely critical about the author's exclusion of the Iran-Contra affair (HE JUST CANNOT DO THAT; a perfect movie selection for a chapter on this would have been Oliver Stone's ever excellent Salvador with James Woods and Jim Belushi). His heavy picking of totally white pictures says a great deal about himself and the Reagans which painted them as true racists; there is nary a mention of films involving blacks, Latin Although I enjoyed reading the stories of Movie Nights with the Reagans, I was extremely critical about the author's exclusion of the Iran-Contra affair (HE JUST CANNOT DO THAT; a perfect movie selection for a chapter on this would have been Oliver Stone's ever excellent Salvador with James Woods and Jim Belushi). His heavy picking of totally white pictures says a great deal about himself and the Reagans which painted them as true racists; there is nary a mention of films involving blacks, Latinos, or Asians! It's no wonder why the Reagans, both heavy believers of astrology and poor examples as parents, longed for the 50's when things were simple, a time when normal-looking white males, free of disabilities, mental defects, and radical beliefs, were the only unoppressed group in the United States of America. Historically, Reagan, a lifelong puppet of his wife who tripled the national debt (from 900 million to 2.8 trillion dollars) in just 8 years and supported apartheid in South Africa while becoming increasingly senile during the second term, did more harm to African Americans than any president during the 20th century. According to an article "Why the 'War on Drugs' Was a 'War on Blacks'" by Kenneth B. Nunn, "The mass incarceration of African Americans is a direct consequence of the War on Drugs. As one commentator states, 'Drug arrests are a principal reason that the proportions of [B]lacks in prison and more generally under criminal justice system control have risen rapidly in recent years.' Since the declaration of the War on Drugs in 1982, prison populations have more than tripled. The rapid growth in prison populations is particularly clear in federal institutions. Although the overall federal prison population was only 24,000 in 1980, by 1996, it had reached 106,000. The federal prison population continued to grow in the 1990s. In 2000, the federal prison population exceeded 145,000. Fifty-seven percent of the federal prisoners in 2000 were incarcerated for drug offenses. In 1982 there were approximately 400,000 incarcerated persons. By 1992, that number had more than doubled to 850,000. In 2000, there were over 1.3 million persons in prison. From 1979 to 1989, the percentage of African Americans arrested for drug offenses almost doubled from 22% to 42% of the total. During that same period, the total number of African American arrests for drug abuse violations skyrocketed from 112,748 to 452,574, an increase of over 300%." Again, it's nice of the author (read that as "fanboy"/"sycophant") to keep things white in his book because he barely mentions anybody of a different color. Some movie choices would have been acceptable such as The Last Emperor, The Color Purple, Cry Freedom, Mississippi Burning, Bird, La Bamba, and Colors although I can't mention Boyz n the Hood because it hadn't been released yet. Of course, it would be too much to ask of the Reagans to screen Melvin Van Peebles' landmark picture because they didn't want to handle the truth as also presented in Blue Velvet. Regardless, the author barely talks about the selected movies but uses them as a cue to recount many stories that happened during Reagan's presidency while at times selfishly trying to get some attention unto himself to settle some old scores and score brownie points by name-dropping. One look at the author's hair from the 80's told me everything I needed to know about him, and his writing confirmed my judgments: a typical yuppie who knows nothing about the real world or what truth is. Reagan heavily taxed the poor and working class while laying off the backs of wealthy folks, going from 70% to 28% in their tax bracket, and corporations alike (Roger & Me would be released in 1989 to underscore the outcome of Reaganomics which was born out of Milton Friedman's ideas that businesses had only one motivation: profits, therefore putting millions of blue-collar workers out of jobs via buyouts of long-anchored companies and outsourcing from foreign countries in exchange for wages in pennies). At the same time, he illegally and secretly supplied arms to future terrorists in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, igniting the rise of al-Qaeda, and completely ignored the AIDS epidemic (Longtime Companion is a good movie here but was one year too late to the party) and refused Rock Hudson special treatment when permission was needed to be admitted in a French hospital. For both cases, Reagan should have been tried for crimes against humanity by causing needless death of many innocent people. At one point during his presidency, he went to Germany to honor the fallen of the Nazi regime, not the victims of the Holocaust. Who in his right mind does that? A good movie for this chapter would be Shoah. By the way, Ronald Reagan sucked as an actor whose face appeared to be pulled back by saran wrap, and the author should have stopped earlier in trying to convince anyone he was otherwise; it's embarrassing enough as evidenced by the Jim Harbaugh tale. An honorary Oscar for Reagan? OH, PUH-LEASE!!! He was a paid informant for the FBI and helped the HUAC to root out communists in Hollywood. And he wasn't well-liked by many thespians during his time there. In the book, Reagan is viewed to be all for women, but, while as the president of SAG, he raped one actress and impregnated another only to feign disbelief over the news and told her to get the hell out, causing her to abort the baby. As a politician, he ignored women's rights as well as gay and civil rights. All in all, Movie Nights with the Reagans is full of good stories, but it's very narrow-minded, almost bordering on a hagiography with racist undertones, and sometimes silly, thus increasing my motivation to finally read Kitty Kelley's scathing portrait of Nancy Reagan.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andy Reeder

    I enjoyed the author’s personal experiences of his time in the Reagan White House. The concept of using a movie for each theme of a chapter was unique and interesting, though I felt that in some of the chapters the movie was overlooked and the connection to the material in that chapter were forced. But many of the movies listed had a great connection to his thoughts and recollections in his writing. It was neat to see his perspective of a relaxed President and First Lady behind the scenes enjoyi I enjoyed the author’s personal experiences of his time in the Reagan White House. The concept of using a movie for each theme of a chapter was unique and interesting, though I felt that in some of the chapters the movie was overlooked and the connection to the material in that chapter were forced. But many of the movies listed had a great connection to his thoughts and recollections in his writing. It was neat to see his perspective of a relaxed President and First Lady behind the scenes enjoying rest and relaxation. Overall, an interesting and unique perspective into the Reagan presidency.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I was always a fan of President Ronald Reagan. I consider him to be one of the best Presidents this country has ever had the good fortune of electing. Having read biographies on the man I found that while some ridiculed him for being little more than an actor it was the life he led in Hollywood that actually prepared him for political office. Not only did it teach him how to communicate with people, it also provided him with an opportunity to meet people from one end of the country to the other I was always a fan of President Ronald Reagan. I consider him to be one of the best Presidents this country has ever had the good fortune of electing. Having read biographies on the man I found that while some ridiculed him for being little more than an actor it was the life he led in Hollywood that actually prepared him for political office. Not only did it teach him how to communicate with people, it also provided him with an opportunity to meet people from one end of the country to the other while he was a representative for General Electric who used his celebrity status to promote their goods. MOVIE NIGHTS WITH THE REAGANS is a memoir by Mark Weinberg who served as a speech writer and advisor to Reagan. In that capacity he not only had access to the President but became part of his inner circle, a group that would accompany him when he’d make weekend trips to Camp David. It was there that Reagan and his wife Nancy would screen movies each week. What Weinberg does with this book is discuss not just the films that were screened but their effects on the President and what was taking place in the country as each film was shown. Obviously the President can’t just pop into the local theater to see a movie. Current hits were provided for them to watch or old films that were favorites screened. Even movies that Reagan himself starred in were viewed and he was both wistful of the times he made them and joked about them at the same time. Movie that were screened that were part of the pop culture of the time found themselves worked into the speeches that Reagan made, like the film WAR GAMES into discussions of missile defense or discussions of family values found in certain movies that were watched. In particular he noted to those around him the values seen in the movie BACK TO THE FUTURE as Marty goes back to a simpler time. As Weinberg notes in the book he implored them to “…embrace the simple values that informed this earlier era, to recapture the grit and spirit of togetherness that helped win World War II and usher in the prosperity of the 1950s.” TOP GUN was a favorite, mostly because it portrayed the military in a positive light, something that had been missing for a while after the Vietnam War. The film reflected Reagan’s feelings about the military. In discussing that film he notes that the previous year at a speech observing Memorial Day at Arlington Cemetery Reagan had observed that “there is a special sadness that accompanies the death of a serviceman, for we’re never quite good enough to them – not really; we can’t be, because what they gave us is beyond our powers to repay.” It is moments like these that display the human side of Reagan that many might not be aware. With this book we get a glimpse of that man. Not only does Weinberg present the movies, discuss them and their effects on the President he talks about the atmosphere among the group as well. They became close and movie nights were something that they all looked forward to. The Reagans as well, providing them a chance to kick back and relax while Ron handled the most difficult job in the world. The book reads easily and is broken into chapters based on the movies viewed. It isn’t a movie review book though but more a document of history behind the scenes. When it comes to learning about the man in charge of this country, what better way for him to be revealed? A solid book and one worth reading.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brett T

    Given the presence of a reality television star in the current White House, publishers have found a lot of traction in some remembrances of the actor who worked there 35 or so years ago. Former press aide Mark Weinberg joins the crowd with one of the more interesting views in Movie Nights With the Reagans. His memoir covers the Reagan White House practice of watching movies together on Fridays or Saturdays (sometimes both) when the president and his wife were staying at Camp David on the weekend Given the presence of a reality television star in the current White House, publishers have found a lot of traction in some remembrances of the actor who worked there 35 or so years ago. Former press aide Mark Weinberg joins the crowd with one of the more interesting views in Movie Nights With the Reagans. His memoir covers the Reagan White House practice of watching movies together on Fridays or Saturdays (sometimes both) when the president and his wife were staying at Camp David on the weekend. Weinberg selects several movies that the First Couple and their staff members watched over the course of Regan's two terms. Some of them were contemporary movies, such as Ferris Beuller's Day Off or Ghostbusters. Some were classics from the Reagans' own days in Hollywood, like the role of George Gipp in Knute Rockne, All-American that gave Reagan his longtime nickname of the Gipper. Or the only movie which featured them both, Hellcats of the Navy. Reagan himself chose the movies that the group watched, and if there was some informal discussion afterwards often helped serve as a resource for people who didn't know much about the technical details of how a movie gets made. Each chapter relates a particular movie to some aspect of Reagan's presidency, the national mood or some current event high in the public awareness during the 1980s. Nancy Reagan was known for her campaign against illegal drug use, substance abuse being something both she and the president had seen firsthand during their Hollywood days. Both Reagans were irritated by what they saw as the unnecessary casual marijuana use in 9 to 5 and it firmed her resolve in that campaign. Weinberg wrote a memoir rather than a biographical or historical sketch; he probably didn't take notes of the post-movie discussions and so can't really relay what would probably have been some of the most interesting material surrounding the Camp David "movie club." But Movie Nights offers a fun few hours of nostalgia in remembering the world when some of today's "classics" were first released and some of the events that surrounded them. It also spurs a sense of melancholy for a time when even a Hollywood establishment that was in almost lockstep opposed to a president and his policies could honor him as "one of their own" at a televised gala fundraiser for a hospital. Or two men with such different ideas could remain friends and show support for one another as well as Reagan did when he invited Warren Beatty to screen Reds at the White House. Try selling that script today. Original available here.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Lawson

    The lights dim and the projector starts. The audience hushes. Later, after the movie is over, a small group gathers around the fireplace to trade stories, and chat about the film. Yep--It’s just another night at Camp David’s “Aspen Lodge.” Nothing special—just munching on popcorn while watching movies with the Leader of the Free World. In MOVIE NIGHTS WITH THE REAGANS, Mark Weinberg describes a dream come true. This twenty-three-year-old White House press aide was invited to stay with the presid The lights dim and the projector starts. The audience hushes. Later, after the movie is over, a small group gathers around the fireplace to trade stories, and chat about the film. Yep--It’s just another night at Camp David’s “Aspen Lodge.” Nothing special—just munching on popcorn while watching movies with the Leader of the Free World. In MOVIE NIGHTS WITH THE REAGANS, Mark Weinberg describes a dream come true. This twenty-three-year-old White House press aide was invited to stay with the president at Camp David for the weekends. Of course, that meant watching movies with the Gang. Each chapter in the book recounts the events at one movie night. My favorite chapter in the book is, “Knute Rockne All American,” which the author describes as, “The Film That Created a Political Legend.” Of course, this was the film that earned Reagan “the Gipper” nickname. The author recalls what came after the screening: “We had to shout over each other to ask questions. The president was more than happy to indulge us. He would tell the story of how he wanted the part and almost didn’t get it, of how much he liked playing football, and how honored he felt to work with Pat O’Brien.” Then, someone asked Reagan about his most famous line from the film. Of course, Reagan remembered it perfectly and proceeded to recite the speech about winning “just one for the Gipper.” Besides the actual movies, one funny part of the book recounts the time a visitor mentioned to Reagan that she “never cared for him as an actor, but “I think you are a great president.” Well, that slight about Reagan's acting ability bothered the president. Later, he wondered which movies the woman had seen that left her with a negative impression of his acting ability. So all in all, I found MOVIE NIGHTS WITH THE REAGANS a fun read—but also a bittersweet read. I especially liked the chapters on the movies in which Reagan himself starred. I found the information about the contemporary world events not as interesting as the movie night experiences. I can only imagine what it must have been like watching movies with Ronald Reagan and his inner circle. I appreciate the author’s fondness for the Reagans: “Let me be clear at the outset: I am a proudly biased fan of President and Mrs. Reagan.” Easy to see why. For more reviews, see Bassocantor.com/blog

  19. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    It was nice to read something as sentimental as this. Mark spent time watching movies with the Reagans and puts his own spin on the reviews.

  20. 4 out of 5

    David Worrell

    I liked this one a lot. It hit a lot of my interests, politics, history, movies, the 80s. Was everything I wanted and more. Full disclosure, I liked Reagan. The president and the man. I'm basically an independent now, but consider Reagan a good president overall. Weinberg was a press aide for Reagan and accompanied the president's entourage to Camp David and other trips. It was at the presidential retreat that the Reagans watched most of their movies and Weinberg's memoir details some of the mov I liked this one a lot. It hit a lot of my interests, politics, history, movies, the 80s. Was everything I wanted and more. Full disclosure, I liked Reagan. The president and the man. I'm basically an independent now, but consider Reagan a good president overall. Weinberg was a press aide for Reagan and accompanied the president's entourage to Camp David and other trips. It was at the presidential retreat that the Reagans watched most of their movies and Weinberg's memoir details some of the movies they selected, the president and first lady's thoughts on them, and some of the things that were going on at the time. The book also details some of the ways the movies influenced the president. Not so much deriving policies from what he watched, but using moments from the movies in speeches or to explain a point. The book interested me on a variety of levels. It was fun to go back and remember a lot of the movies from the 80s (almost all of which I've seen many times since), but also some of the things that were going on at the time, both historically and in pop culture. It gave a wonderful (if somewhat brief) look into life at Camp David, leaving me wanting to know more about the retreat's history. The behind the scenes insights into events going on in the White House over the years were fascinating and often funny. It was incredibly interesting to hear about Reagan as a student of film. There are some good stories about screening some of the movies Reagan starred in or movies with his friends (and sometimes rivals). You even get a look at Reagan's relationship with his daughter through the screening of On Golden Pond. It was also interesting to read some of the political opinions going around about some movies. Apparently both parties used Ghostbusters parodies as part of 1984 campaign events. I was surprised to learn many liberal critics felt Ferris Beuler's Day Off was a product of Reagan's poltical views. Apparently Reagan loved the movie and John Hughes was a republican. Who knew? I found the book thoroughly enjoyable. Highly recommended.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Clint

    First heard of this book via email marketing, so there’s that. Have read so much on Reagans that I was afraid it would be a compilation of info I knew from other Reagan books with a little about movies they watched thrown in. And that’s how it began, but the author, a Reagan aide during his years in the White House, eventually did recount many stories and situations involving the former first couple I hadn’t heard. And while his affection for them is clear, it’s also evident he is writing with t First heard of this book via email marketing, so there’s that. Have read so much on Reagans that I was afraid it would be a compilation of info I knew from other Reagan books with a little about movies they watched thrown in. And that’s how it began, but the author, a Reagan aide during his years in the White House, eventually did recount many stories and situations involving the former first couple I hadn’t heard. And while his affection for them is clear, it’s also evident he is writing with the perspective of years and history. Not a deep analysis of the Reagan years but interesting for Reagan fans.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Terri Wangard

    Ronald and Nancy Reagan enjoyed relaxing with a movie, the art form that brought them together. Every weekend at Camp David, they screened a movie, current or oldie. Mark Weinberg, as an assistance press secretary, went with them to Camp David and was invited with all the small staff to watch with the Reagans. Weinberg discusses topics related to the films. For instance, Oh God 2 featured Reagan’s old friend, George Burns, a simple man, not full of himself, always happy. He was one of the few star Ronald and Nancy Reagan enjoyed relaxing with a movie, the art form that brought them together. Every weekend at Camp David, they screened a movie, current or oldie. Mark Weinberg, as an assistance press secretary, went with them to Camp David and was invited with all the small staff to watch with the Reagans. Weinberg discusses topics related to the films. For instance, Oh God 2 featured Reagan’s old friend, George Burns, a simple man, not full of himself, always happy. He was one of the few stars Reagan had semi-regular correspondence with throughout the presidency. This film was an overt defense of spirituality and faith, which the Reagans appreciated. They liked the old movies that didn’t have modern films’ profanity, sexuality, gritty realism, and less than sunny political perspective. The movies of yesteryear were far better. Movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark was as close to films of Reagan’s era as an 80s movie could be, with clear cut heroes and villians, a peppy theme song, and seat-of-your-pants adventures. Chariots of Fire led Weinberg to comment on Reagan being an Anglophile, great friends with Margaret Thatcher and the British royal family. With Back to the Future, Weinberg remembered that Reagan’s old agent Lew Wasserman contacted him, saying director Robert Zenecki was considering Reagan for the part of the 1885 mayor of Hill Valley in Back to the Future III. Several other films bring interest reflections on the Reagans and their beloved movie business. This is a quick reading, enjoyable book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Luke Johnson

    Throughout the Reagan presidency Ronald and Nancy, a long with a small staff, would often retreat to Camp David on the weekends for horseback riding, various leisure activities, and of course, movies! I believe the author states they watched 366 in the 8 year term of President Reagan, but with two movies a week (Fri and Sat nights) that number still seems very high so I may have got that wrong. What the author, Mark Weinberg who in his role in the President's press department, does in the book a Throughout the Reagan presidency Ronald and Nancy, a long with a small staff, would often retreat to Camp David on the weekends for horseback riding, various leisure activities, and of course, movies! I believe the author states they watched 366 in the 8 year term of President Reagan, but with two movies a week (Fri and Sat nights) that number still seems very high so I may have got that wrong. What the author, Mark Weinberg who in his role in the President's press department, does in the book as draw (rather obvious) connections the movies the First Family watched with the events of the day. Again, anyone with a high school level history class under their belts could probably draw the connection between George Lucas' Star Wars and the Star Wars missile defense system, Rocky IV and relations with Russia, Top Gun and the military, etc etc. The movies themselves play a small role, it's actually more Mr Weinberg's memoirs than anything else. As a "behind-the-scenes" (no pun intended) look at the Reagan presidency it's interesting enough though due to Weinberg's respect for Mr Reagan (and schoolboy-like love and admiration of Mrs Reagan) it's pretty one sided. I don't think Weinberg takes Reagan to task on anything and instead we get several remembrances of someone saying or doing something President or Mrs Reagan didn't like and how quickly an apology note was on the President's desk. This book would be a good read for those who are fans of Reagan but I think Mr Weinberg actually does the reader a disservice by treating everything with kid gloves.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Mark Weinberg uses movie nights at Camp David as a framing device for his memoir of his time in the white house as a member of the Reagan communication team. I'm no political fan of Ronald Reagan, but as a bit of a political junkie and a major movie buff I found Weinberg's reminiscences very engaging, often humorous and always entertaining. I certainly can't imagine anyone writing so warmly about the current occupant of the oval office. Each chapter is centered around a single screening of movie Mark Weinberg uses movie nights at Camp David as a framing device for his memoir of his time in the white house as a member of the Reagan communication team. I'm no political fan of Ronald Reagan, but as a bit of a political junkie and a major movie buff I found Weinberg's reminiscences very engaging, often humorous and always entertaining. I certainly can't imagine anyone writing so warmly about the current occupant of the oval office. Each chapter is centered around a single screening of movies at Camp David or the White House, usually new releases with a few movies starring the Gipper himself thrown in. I found it a bit disturbing that every movie Weinberg cites is about white Americans (with the exception of Chariots of Fire which is about white British people). Didn't some of Reagan's movie watching involve empathizing with people of color or residents of the third world? There certainly were plenty of such movies to choose from. I really wished that the author had provided an Appendix with a complete list of all movies screened for the President throughout his eight years of office. In his acknowledgments, Weinberg thanks his editor for steering him away from hagiography. All I can say is that I can't imagine that early draft because this book is pretty fawning. Nevertheless, the book feels sincere. Weinberg's sincerity and the President's and First Lady's gracious personalities as filtered through Weinberg successfully carry this memoir.

  25. 5 out of 5

    James

    More of a pedestrian written recollection of how wonderful The Reagans were and not so much about movies they watched. Well, it is a centered around the movies they viewed on weekends at Camp David (including some of Ronald Reagan's own oldies) and the author tries to use the movie as a jumping point to discuss politics and events and stories that occurred around the theme of the movie. Reagan meeting Tom Cruise, Nancy and Ronnie not too happy with pot smoking in 9 TO 5, their appreciation of th More of a pedestrian written recollection of how wonderful The Reagans were and not so much about movies they watched. Well, it is a centered around the movies they viewed on weekends at Camp David (including some of Ronald Reagan's own oldies) and the author tries to use the movie as a jumping point to discuss politics and events and stories that occurred around the theme of the movie. Reagan meeting Tom Cruise, Nancy and Ronnie not too happy with pot smoking in 9 TO 5, their appreciation of the EPA being a bad guy in a movie that they found pleasing conservative namely GHOSTBUSTERS, their love for FERRIS BUELLER'S DASY OFF (mostly because Ferris lip syncs a Wayne Newton song) and how much they like BACK TO THE FUTURE because of the 50s time travel and Michael J. Fox. It's all a pleasant read, but a bit of a forgettable snooze if you want in-depth mostly 80s movie thought from the Reagans and the author. There are more stories about how nice a man Ronnie was and how Nancy wasn't really that an iron lady. I did like these personal anecdotes and it gave me a different look at a seemingly good and nice man and he love this couple had for each other, but the title belies the true agenda here.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Georgia Herod

    Mark Weinberg, public affairs director for Ronald Reagan, who was spokesman, speechwriter, media advisor and personal aide, had an up close and personal perspective from which to write this very readable memoir, using movies as a unique hook. Ronald and Nancy Reagan become very real as readers enjoy weekend nights at Camp David in the Aspen lodge watching and discussing movies, including 9 to 5, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Top Gun, Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark, On Golden Pond, Chari Mark Weinberg, public affairs director for Ronald Reagan, who was spokesman, speechwriter, media advisor and personal aide, had an up close and personal perspective from which to write this very readable memoir, using movies as a unique hook. Ronald and Nancy Reagan become very real as readers enjoy weekend nights at Camp David in the Aspen lodge watching and discussing movies, including 9 to 5, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Top Gun, Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark, On Golden Pond, Chariots of Fire--as well as a couple starring Reagan (Knute Rockne Hellcats of the Navy). I found myself wishing I could have joined them as they laughed, joked, enjoyed themselves, and included staff as "family." Reagan is optimistic; Nancy, more a worrier. Weinberg not only presents brief synopses and background about the movies, but includes what was going on in the world and in the US, politically, socially, and culturally, including current events near and far. He also includes info about "the industry," Hollywood. Numerous anecdotes and quotations support the author's observations. No matter a reader's side of the political aisle, each could enjoy the commentary and reflections on the movies—and our world.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    I am a huge Ronald Reagan fan and have read many books about this great man. I enjoyed Mr. Weinberg’s reminiscences and stories. He is an excellent writer. I did have an annoyance that probably belongs more to the publisher than to the author. The references in the book are listed as footnotes at the bottom of each the page. I have nothing against footnotes, but these days footnotes are usually reserved for explanations or amplifications of the text. Maybe it’s just a habit of mine, but when I’m I am a huge Ronald Reagan fan and have read many books about this great man. I enjoyed Mr. Weinberg’s reminiscences and stories. He is an excellent writer. I did have an annoyance that probably belongs more to the publisher than to the author. The references in the book are listed as footnotes at the bottom of each the page. I have nothing against footnotes, but these days footnotes are usually reserved for explanations or amplifications of the text. Maybe it’s just a habit of mine, but when I’m reading along and see a footnote symbol, I drop down to the bottom of the page expecting to read more about the subject at hand. In this book, though, all the footnotes are simply reference citations. The author relied on a lot of online research. There’s nothing wrong with that either, but those citations oftentimes include long URL citations. It would have been less distracting to me if those cites with the three or four line URL’s would have been included in end notes rather than footnotes. My personal annoyance about the footnotes aside, I would still recommend this book to any Reagan fan.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Valaree

    MOVIE NIGHTS WITH THE REAGANS: Very fast, easy, nostalgic reading. Not a political book, but a memoir that cleverly reveals the presidency of Ronald Reagan while capturing the flavor of the 80s via the movies screened at Camp David. Written by RR’s former press secretary. Enjoyable & informative whether you are a Reaganite or not. Book organization & structure invite traditional reading from cover to cover, although individual chapters stand alone as snapshots into particular political moments a MOVIE NIGHTS WITH THE REAGANS: Very fast, easy, nostalgic reading. Not a political book, but a memoir that cleverly reveals the presidency of Ronald Reagan while capturing the flavor of the 80s via the movies screened at Camp David. Written by RR’s former press secretary. Enjoyable & informative whether you are a Reaganite or not. Book organization & structure invite traditional reading from cover to cover, although individual chapters stand alone as snapshots into particular political moments as well. Each chapter centers around a particular movie screening, then discusses the current event at the time, as well as how the movie effected the President. Chapters have subtitles, example: FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF: The film that reminded the Reagans of yesterday, E.T.THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL: The film that made the Reagans cry, GHOSTBUSTERS: A film that energized the ‘84 campaign, 9 TO 5: The film that made the Reagans angry & propelled a First Lady’s crusade... etc....yada...(you get the picture). I like the way it connects RR’s pre-political career in Hollywood to his presidential career in D.C....Something different.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Betty

    Movie Nights with the Reagans by Mark Weinberg Mark Weinberg, former special advisor and press secretary to President Ronald Reagan gives us an inside look at that time in America. We see it through the movies that were popular then. We witness some of the inner workings of the Reagan White House. We get a behind the scenes look at state dinners and Camp David. Mr. Weinberg is an unabashed fan of both the President and Mrs. Reagan. This is not a tell-all book nor does it deal much with politics e Movie Nights with the Reagans by Mark Weinberg Mark Weinberg, former special advisor and press secretary to President Ronald Reagan gives us an inside look at that time in America. We see it through the movies that were popular then. We witness some of the inner workings of the Reagan White House. We get a behind the scenes look at state dinners and Camp David. Mr. Weinberg is an unabashed fan of both the President and Mrs. Reagan. This is not a tell-all book nor does it deal much with politics except in the context of the movies being watched by most of us during that time. (Star Wars – yes; Bedtime for Bonzo – nope). It gives some insight into the family dynamics of the Reagans but is not intrusive. While there are no earth-shattering revelations in the book concerning the Reagans, it does give us an almost nostalgic look back into that period in our history. I received a free copy of the book from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster in exchange for my honest review. Thank you. Simon & Schuster Pub Date 2/27/18

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sam Sattler

    Filled with interesting stories and memories from a Ronald Reagan's press secretary who became part of the Reagan family. Mark Weinberg spent his weeks working in the White House with President Reagan and topped them off by spending the weekends with the Reagans at their weekend retreat. There he enjoyed "movie night" with the Reagans and other members of their staff as the president screened new movies, old favorites, and a number of films starring himself and/or Nancy Davis Reagan. There is not Filled with interesting stories and memories from a Ronald Reagan's press secretary who became part of the Reagan family. Mark Weinberg spent his weeks working in the White House with President Reagan and topped them off by spending the weekends with the Reagans at their weekend retreat. There he enjoyed "movie night" with the Reagans and other members of their staff as the president screened new movies, old favorites, and a number of films starring himself and/or Nancy Davis Reagan. There is nothing all that revealing in the book, but it is a pleasant read and a reminder of a time that, despite the assassination attempt on the president, seems a little simpler in retrospect. Reagan comes across as a genuinely nice man whose word was his bond, a man who treated everyone as an equal.. Nancy comes across as a nice woman who would have probably given her own life for the president. Theirs is one heck of a love story...maybe, in fact, that's the most inspirational part of the whole book.

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