Cover image for Governor Reagan : his rise to power
Governor Reagan : his rise to power
Cannon, Lou.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Public Affairs, [2003]

Physical Description:
xii, 579 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F866.4.R43 C36 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
F866.4.R43 C36 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In Governor Reagan , Lou Cannon offers--through recent interviews and research drawn from his unique access to the cabinet minutes of Reagan's first years as governor of California--a fresh look at the development of a master politician.

At first, Reagan suffered from political amateurism, an inexperienced staff, and ideological blind spots. But he quickly learned to take the measure of the Democrats who controlled the State Legislature and surprised friends and foes alike by agreeing to a huge tax increase, which made it possible for him to govern for eight years without additional tax hikes. He developed an environmental policy that preserved the state 's scenic valleys and wild rivers, and he signed into law what was then the nation's most progressive declaration on abortion rights. His quixotic 1968 presidential campaign revealed his higher ambitions to the world and taught him how much he had to learn about big-league politics.

Written by the definitive biographer of Ronald Reagan, this new biography is a classic study of a fascinating individual's evolution from a conservative hero to a national figure whose call for renewal stirred Republicans, working-class Democrats, and independents alike.

Author Notes

Lou Cannon covered Reagan for thirty-six years, first as a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, later as The Washington Post White House correspondent

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Author of President Reagan: Role of a Lifetime, journalist Cannon is considered by many to be the leading contemporary Reagan biographer. Here he does a stellar job of recounting Reagan's first two terms in higher office as governor of California. In 1966, during his campaign against Democratic incumbent Edmund G. Brown Sr., Reagan spoke out against campus radicals and welfare cheaters, and won the governorship by a margin of nearly one million votes. Throughout the first six of Reagan's eight years in Sacramento, he was confronted by an unfriendly Democratic legislature, but nevertheless made inroads when it came to reforming welfare and expanding higher education. In fact, Cannon points to welfare reform as a capstone of Reagan's governorship. Alarmed at the rapid escalation of welfare costs, Reagan in 1971-near the start of his second term-proposed a comprehensive welfare and Medi-Cal reform package, the latter a more liberal version of the federal Medicaid program. Reagan's recipe proved a huge success. In practice, it dropped the number of welfare recipients overall, increased benefits for those still covered by more than 40% and saved the state of California millions. Cannon also details Reagan's victories with regard to higher education. By the end of Reagan's second term, support for the University of California system had more than doubled over what it had been when the former actor assumed office. Cannon recounts all this-together with the tangled tale of Reagan's doomed, quixotic 1968 bid for the presidency-with skill and grace, painting a vivid portrait of a formidable politician in the process of becoming. Illus. not seen by PW. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Readers of Cannon's four other books on Reagan will find this volume useful for its details of political battles during Reagan's governorship. General readers will be interested in Cannon's portrait of the man who, though more ambitious and persevering than he is typically credited with being, was an extraordinarily passive executive. Typically, Governor Reagan (like President Reagan) simply followed a script handed to him by his senior advisers. Even when the script was botched, as when Reagan was given too little time to persuade voters to support a controversial tax limitation plan, "Proposition One," the governor played his part without complaint or curiosity, leading to a second-term debacle. Cannon is expert at detailing the ways in which Reagan's acting approach to politics left him at the mercy of his "script writers," but does not delve far enough into the issues he raises, such as the authorship of the scripts. Moreover, Cannon can be intrusive when he passes judgment on Reagan's policies. Overall, however, Cannon again plays his familiar role as Reagan's most balanced biographer. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All libraries. T. S. Langston Tulane University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Part I The Rise of Ronald Reagan
1. Californiap. 3
2. Optimistp. 10
3. Lifeguardp. 17
4. Storytellerp. 24
5. Announcerp. 37
6. Actorp. 51
7. Family Manp. 62
8. Politicianp. 82
9. Company Manp. 103
10. Visionaryp. 115
Part II Governor Reagan
11. Candidatep. 129
12. Winnerp. 149
13. Adversaryp. 162
14. Novicep. 171
15. Pragmatistp. 185
16. Conservativep. 206
17. Leaderp. 226
18. Survivorp. 238
19. Noncandidatep. 256
20. Regentp. 271
21. Conservationistp. 297
22. Incumbentp. 322
23. Reformerp. 348
24. Salesmanp. 368
25. Achieverp. 380
Part III The Pursuit of the Presidency
26. Challengerp. 393
27. Contenderp. 416
28. Heir Apparentp. 437
29. Debaterp. 451
30. Presidentp. 477
Notesp. 513
Bibliographyp. 548
Indexp. 557