Peggy Noonan's masterpiece, "When Character Was King" is one of my favorite biographies of President Ronald Reagan.
By the time you finish reading this classic, President Reagan is not just a great hero, he has become one of your best friends.
The following review by Ed Chinn in Reason Magazine gives a glimpse why. The stories Ed tells are good ones to share with our children.
"When Character Was King"
A Review of Peggy Noonan's Book
by Ed Chinn in Reason Magazine
"When Character Was King is a fast-moving, never boring, cornucopia of great stories and many surprising insights. One of the most surprising, and perhaps the most valuable part of the book, is the incredible view of the mysterious issue of destiny. Here's the story:
"In 1952, Ronald Reagan at 41 and newly married was almost out of work. His movie career was stalled. Facing a very tight financial situation, he was reduced to emceeing a floor show in Las Vegas just to keep groceries on the table and the lights on. The movie star was in trouble.
"Then, in 1954 when he was 43, General Electric offered him a job. Although the most visible part was hosting 'GE Theater,' the real job required him to travel to all 139 GE plants in 39 states. So, here was a former movie star, spending days on the road visiting GE plants, walking miles of assembly lines, etc. It was humiliating. He used to be a movie star; he was now 'a traveling salesman, just as his father had been,' Noonan writes. As incredible as it may seem, at midlife, this future President of the U.S. had ample evidence of personal failure.
"But, he was also shaking lots of hands, asking questions, making speeches, listening to people's concerns. Noonan writes, 'He didn't know it at the time but he was spending his days as modern politicians do, as presidents do.' At 43 years old, he was in basic training for his life's real purpose.
"So, Reagan's story is a vivid reminder that people caught in the grip of destiny often don't (and don't even need to) understand their own path. Their personal hopes and fears are irrelevant; they're just along for the ride. It is far better to just live life straight ahead....