Sun January 23, 2011
Author Interviews

Reagan's Son Sees His 'Father At 100'

There have been many books written about the 40th president of the United States, but very few have come from those who knew Ronald Wilson Reagan best.

Ron Reagan, the former president's son, searches for the roots of his father's nature in his book, My Father At 100.

"It wasn't that I had in mind some particular thing that I wanted to say about him that other people hadn't said," Ron Reagan tells Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz. "I felt that the keys to my father's character would probably be found in his early life."

In search of these clues, Ron Reagan journeyed to his father's birthplace in Tampico, Ill., and to his hometown of Dixon, Ill. He visited several museums and the Reagan library, where he poured over hundreds of photos, letters and books — including many famous biographies about his father.

Ron Reagan and his father didn't always see eye-to-eye as father and son. President Reagan was a staunch conservative, a Christian and a Republican. His son is the exact opposite: a liberal, an atheist and a Democrat.

Growing up, Ron Reagan says, the two of them frequently argued about politics, especially when he was a teenager. But even through their disagreements, the pair remained very close, tied by the bonds of father and son.

Although Ron Reagan says that he ultimately found nothing incredibly surprising or shocking about his father while writing the book, he did find himself uncovering parts of the childhood that shaped Reagan, and made the president the man he was.

"I have a new and, I hope, deeper appreciation for the solitary, undersized little boy that he was," Reagan explains, "who spent a lot of time by himself, pouring over books and strange artifacts, some of them from the West, which filled his head with visions of this wide-open frontier and this broad landscape of which he could be a hero, the guy who saves the day. I think I have a better appreciation of that." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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