The Triumph of Nancy Reagan

S. & S. Apr. 2021. 672p. ISBN 9781501165191. $32.50. BIOG
Tumulty, an award-winning Washington Post journalist, debuts with a well-written account of the life of Nancy Reagan (born Anne Frances Robbins). It begins with her childhood in New York as the only child of Edie Luckett, a successful actress, and Kenneth Robbins, a car salesman. Her early life was difficult, as her mother traveled to pursue acting jobs, leaving Anne in the care of an aunt in Maryland—and also leaving Anne in search of a permanent mother figure. Tumulty takes care when recounting her subject’s transformation into actress “Nancy Davis” (Anne took her stepfather’s last name) and ultimately “Nancy Reagan,” after she fell for and married the young studio star Ronald Reagan. In Tumulty’s telling, Nancy was key to her husband’s success both political and private, acting as a detail-focused adviser who managed Ronald’s public persona, from his entry into politics through his years with Alzheimer’s Disease. Packed with detail, the book cites personal interviews with Nancy throughout the years, as well as a host of published sources.
VERDICT A thoroughly researched, evenhanded treatment of the most loyal and most important of Ronald Reagan’s influencers; likely to be popular in both subject collections and public libraries
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