A groundbreaking reassessment of Ronald Reagan's life and presidency, exploring his lifelong struggle ' and ultimate victory ' against the tyranny of Communism
In this dramatic meditation on the life of Ronald Reagan, historian Paul Kengor presents an account of the fortieth president that has never been written ' one that details Reagan's campaign against the Soviet Union, which lasted for more than forty years. Tracing Reagan's anti-Communist sentiment to his days as president of the Screen Actors Guild, Kengor illuminates how this experience first emboldened the actor to speak out against the oppression of the Soviet Union and describes Reagan's multifaceted efforts to prevent Communism from taking hold in Hollywood. Ultimately his SAG tenure paved the way for his burgeoning political career, which, from its inception, had but one purpose: the end of Communism.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
October 17, 0006
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from The Crusader by Paul Kengor, Ph.D.
STEPPING OUT OF HIS HOUSE THE MORNING OF AUGUST 2, 1928, Ronald "Dutch" Reagan was expecting another scorcher. As he walked across the street to the Graybills' to catch his ride to the river, he noticed that it was yet another muggy Thursday in Dixon, Illinois. It was a typical midsummer afternoon in the Midwest, humid beyond any reasonable expectation, and with the advent of air-conditioning still years in the distance, the best form of escape could be found in a Ford automobile with windows open amid a breezy drive to the river at Lowell Park.
At Lowell, there were shady trees, cool water, and people, all kept under the watchful eye of seventeen-year-old Dutch Reagan. Already tall, he hovered above the swimmers in a ten-foot-high chair perched on the grassy banks, making himself a beacon for all to see. His height was emblematic of his swimming prowess, and a key factor in his swimming successes. At the YMCA in January, Reagan had sprinted to victory in the 110-yard freestyle by a half-length of the pool. When competing in the annual Water Carnival at the Rock River on Labor Day, he took first in the longest competition ' the 220-yard River Swim. He still holds the record for swimming fastest from the park entrance to the river's farthest bank and back. So adept were his swimming skills that he was allegedly approached by an Olympic scout who invited him to work out with the team preparing for the 1932 games ' an offer Reagan said he refused because he could not give up his summer pay.
On this August day, the river's rough waters and undertows were particularly active. Scattered throughout the choppy waters were hundreds of swimmers, and through the spectacles that rested atop his nose, Dutch gazed at the clusters of people, aware that he could not slack off for a moment. Reagan's regular pattern for patrolling the waters was tested on such a chaotic summer afternoon. According to the Dixon Telegraph, on a day like this Ronald Reagan often single-handedly watched over 1,000 bathers at a time, with no assistant.
His most difficult concerns were toddlers who ventured too far out (there were legions of them) and adults cocky enough to think they could conquer the depths of the treacherous river. Toddlers that failed to listen were an easy nab for Reagan, who was vigilant in pulling them back right away before they disappeared into the murky water. Dutch always followed with a quick lesson to the child about wandering out.
Unfortunately, the adult swimmers were not as easy. They were bigger and stronger. If not secured in the right position, they tended to pull and grab, putting the lifeguard's own life in peril. A panicky six-foot-frame was the worst foe. Among them, the end of the summer brought brawny farm boys to the water, just finished with the annual harvest; they invariably underestimated the river, not giving it the respect Reagan learned to grant it. Once in the death grip of a current, they became exhausted, went vertical, and began struggling and clawing frantically. On more than one occasion, Dutch belted them with a right cross to the jaw in order to facilitate a safe rescue. The unorthodox method was effective: Reagan never lost one.