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When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan

by Peggy Noonan

Viking Press

224, November

Hardcover, 24.95

ISBN: 0670882356

It is twenty years—a full generation—since Ronald Reagan first walked into the White House and ignited a revolution. From the beginning, he enjoyed the American people’s affection but now, as he approaches the end of his life, he has received what he deserved even more: their deep respect.

What was the wellspring of his greatness? Peggy Noonan, bestselling author of the classic Reagan-era memoir What I Saw at the Revolution, former speechwriter, and now a columnist and contributing editor for The Wall Street Journal, argues that the secret of Reagan’s success was no secret at all. It was his character—his courage, his kindness, his persistence, his honesty, and his almost heroic patience in the face of setbacks—that was the most important element of his success.

The one thing a man must bring into the White House with him if he is to succeed, Noonan contends, is a character that people come to recognize as high, sturdy, and reliable.

Noonan, renowned for her special insight into Ronald Reagan’s history and personality, brings her own reflections on Reagan to bear in When Character Was King and discloses never-before-told stories from the former president’s family, friends, and White House colleagues to reveal the true nature of a man even his opponents now view as a maker of big history.

Marked by incisive wit and elegant prose, When Character Was King will enlighten and move readers.


  1. “I Remember You”
  2. All Presidents Come from Something
  3. Movie Star
  4. And Here He Becomes the Man He Was
  5. “Honey, Roy Rogers is Here”
  6. The Ranch
  7. Everything Changes
  8. The Things They Carried
  9. Executive Mansion
  10. Grace Under Pressure
  11. “Funny How History Works”
  12. The Power of Truth
  13. Tough Choices
  14. Comedy
  15. Rosty, Rush, Regan
  16. Strong Women
  17. Big Trouble
  18. Big Triumph
  19. Dubya Was Watching
  20. The Old Man of St. Cloud Road
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