Dutch; A Memoir of Ronald Reagan
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New York: Random House, 1998. xx, 874 pages. Illustrations. Appendix. Bibliography. Notes. Index. Inscribed by the author. Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan is a 1999 biography with fictional elements by Edmund Morris about Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States. There is much controversy about the book, cited by the Amazon editorial staff as "one of the most unusual and critically scrutinized biographies ever written,because of the fictional characters in display." Debate exists as to whether Dutch should even be referred to as a biography at all. It was published by Random House and edited by executive editor Robert Loomis. Edmund Morris (born May 27, 1940) is a British-American writer best known for his biographies of United States Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Morris's first book, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, was the first volume of what would eventually become a trilogy on the life of the 26th president-it won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography and the 1980 National Book Award for biography. In 1981, Ronald Reagan became President of the United States and was impressed by a reading of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. Senator Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon and Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin urged Reagan aides to appoint Morris as the president's official biographer. Morris met with Reagan on several occasions in 1981-1983, but was reluctant to put aside work on Theodore Rex, the second volume of his life of Roosevelt. However, in 1985 Morris recognized that Reagan had become a figure of high historical importance, and signed a $3 million contract with Random House to write his authorized biography. He reached a private agreement with the president and first lady that granted him regular interviews with them and their children, as well as unlimited access to the White House, by means of a pass that made him a non-governmental observer of the administration. This "fly-on-the-wall" privilege was made doubly unusual by Reagan's willingness to let Morris write his biography without any editorial control. Morris spent the next fourteen years researching and writing the story of Reagan's life in Washington D.C. and Santa Monica, California. He continued to see the former president in retirement, and worked extensively in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, enjoying special access to Reagan's personal papers. His manuscript, prepared under conditions of great secrecy, was edited by Robert Loomis, executive editor at Random House. The biography's long gestation was the result of a radical change in narrative method, caused by Morris's frustration with what he has described as Reagan's lack of "curiosity about himself." Morris confided this frustration in 1989 to a group of fellow scholars at the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs. His remarks were leaked to the press and gave rise to rumors that Morris did not understand his subject. In 1999 Morris published Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan. The book caused an international sensation because it was presented, without explanation or apology, as a work of nonfiction by an imaginary author. Although the story of Reagan's life was authentic and documented with 153 pages of notes, the parallel "story" of its author, one "Arthur Edmund Morris" born in Chicago in 1912, enraged many critics and readers who had been expecting a conventional presidential biography. Dutch rose quickly to No. 2 on the New York Times Best Seller list. But despite a minority of favorable reviews, and the endorsements of three of Reagan's children, reactions to it were generally so negative that it soon fell off the list. First Edition. First Printing. Very good.