Monday, December 29, 2008

Reagan or Leviathan

Reagan: The Hollywood Years

Author: Marc Eliot

The bestselling author of Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart offers a new look at Ronald Reagan's neglected and misunderstood career in Hollywood, shining a spotlight on how it took him from leading man to world leader.

Publishers Weekly

For 30 years, Ronald Reagan was dedicated to a film and television career. Yet Eliot (who has written bios of Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, among others) claims previous studies of the former president gloss over this influential era. "To be able to fully comprehend Reagan the man, one must also understand Reagan the actor." With that charge, Eliot chronicles Reagan's film career, from his numerous "B" pictures, such as Girls on Probation, to the image-enhancing Knute Rockne All American, which contained Reagan's future political rallying cry: "Win one for the Gipper." Interspersed with tales of Hollywood casting maneuvers, Eliot takes a no-holds-barred approach to Reagan's personal life, whether his numerous affairs, his rocky marriage to Jane Wyman or Nancy Davis's single-minded determination to marry him. Eliot also examines his time heading SAG, the actors' union, which proved prescient. By 1962, Reagan was out of work, reduced to giving his "Price of Freedom" speech to interested groups. His delivery at a Goldwater fund-raiser was so inspiring that it jump-started his second career, clearing the way for the "Central Casting version of what an American president should look like." Extensively researched, this biography is an accessible and eye-opening read. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Ben Malczewski - Library Journal

Nearly 20 years after Ronald Reagan's presidency, his name means different things to different people. To some, it's the Berlin Wall, Reaganomics, or the Cold War; to those who knew his entertainment career, it's derisory reminiscences about Bedtime for Bonzo, the Gipper in Knute Rockne All American, or comedian Rich Little's mocking, rosy-cheeked, and head-shaking "Well...." Seeking to tie the entertainment and political sides of Reagan together and paint a more holistic portrait of the man, best-selling author Eliot (Cary Grant: A Biography; Down 42nd Street) succeeds in adding a little soul to a Hollywood career that has been undervalued if not entirely dismissed while setting the stage for what was yet to come. Although the book feels as though it is written too much in hindsight-Eliot's tendency to foreshadow and add melodramatic weight to occurrences occasionally gets the best of him-this is a valuable supplement to other biographies that focus more on Reagan's presidential years and is an important addition to large public and academic biographical and entertainment collections.

Kirkus Reviews

Eliot (Song of Brooklyn: An Oral History of America's Favorite Borough, 2008, etc.) charts the less-than-stellar career of Ronald Reagan, the actor. The late president was once a perennial second banana of middling looks and talent who dependably and forgettably assayed roles as the hero's best friend in dozens of B movies during Hollywood's Golden Age. This was, of course, before finding his true metier as a public speaker and political force in the tumultuous early days of Hollywood unions, most notably the Screen Actors Guild. Eliot paints the young Reagan as a Midwestern model of Rockwellian rectitude, a genial cipher with an unquestioning devotion to family, heartland values and a knack for self-promotion. Local celebrity as an athlete and radio sports announcer led to an undistinguished career in motion pictures, with the exceptions of his roles in Knute Rockne, All American and King's Row, both of which interestingly found him declaiming classic dialogue from the sickbed. Eliot delves deeply into the precariousness of Reagan's finances and ego during this period, as film after film failed to establish him as an A-list star and his marriage to the mercurial actress Jane Wyman ended in humiliating divorce. The image of Reagan pontificating about current events, filling the house with pipe smoke while Wyman writhed in crushing boredom, is a particularly poignant one. Much of the narrative focuses on Reagan's self-actualization as a political animal through his deep involvement with SAG and its role in the blacklist and various other scandals, such as its underhanded dealing with Lew Wasserman's MCA in negotiating residuals for its members. This occasionally dry material illustratesReagan's fuzzy drift from liberal Democrat to conservative Republican, as well as an apparently innate ability to cover his tracks with his aw-shucks charm and selective memory. The book ends with a determined Nancy Davis, herself a failed actress, steering her new beau toward a more socially desirable set of friends-well-connected, well-heeled conservatives-looking for a new pony to back after the flameouts of Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater. An enlightening, richly detailed and suggestively disturbing look at the American Dream and one of its truest dreamers.

Books about: The Wise Men or Republic Jowett translation

Leviathan (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading Series)

Author: Thomas Hobbes

After the publication of his masterpiece of political theory, Leviathan, Or the Matter, and Power of Commonwealth Ecclesiastic and Civil, in 1651, opponents charged Thomas Hobbes with atheism and banned and burned his books. The English Parliament, in a search for scapegoats, even claimed that the theories found in Leviathan were a likely cause of the Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666.

For the modern reader, though, Hobbes is more recognized for his popular belief that humanity's natural condition is a state of perpetual war, with life being "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Despite frequent challenges by other philosophers, Leviathan's secular theory of absolutism no longer stands out as particularly objectionable. In the description of the organization of states, moreover, we see Hobbes as strikingly current in his use of concepts that we still employ today, including the ideas of natural law, natural rights, and the social contract. Based on this work, one could even argue that Hobbes created English-language philosophy, insofar as Leviathan was the first great philosophical work written in English and one whose impact continues to the present day.

About the Author:
Thomas Hobbes was born on Good Friday in 1588. Despite growing up in an impoverished clerical family, he was precociously intelligent and completed a classical education at Oxford. He decided not to follow in his father's footsteps, though, and instead became a tutor within an aristocratic family. When these royalist political connections and a number of personal writings in support of monarchical authority got Hobbes centrally involved in the turmoil of the English Civil War, he feared for his safety and fled to France in 1640. It was while in exile in France that he wrote Leviathan, the work that cemented Hobbes' philosophical reputation as the pre-eminent modern theorist of secular absolutism.

Table of Contents:
Part 1Of Man
1Of Sense3
2Of Imagination4
3Of the Consequence or Train of Imaginations8
4Of Speech12
5Of Reason and Science18
6Of the Interiour Beginnings of Voluntary Motions Commonly Called the Passions; and the Speeches by which They Are Expressed23
7Of the Ends or Resolutions of Discourse30
8Of the Vertues, Commonly Called Intellectual, and Their Contrary Defects32
9Of the Severall Subjects of Knowledge41
10Of Power, Worth, Dignity, Honour, and Worthinesse43
11Of the Difference of Manners49
12Of Religion54
13Of the Naturall Condition of Mankind as Concerning Their Felicity and Misery63
14Of the First and Second Naturall Lawes and of Contract66
15Of Other Laws of Nature74
16Of Persons, Authors, and Things Personated83
Part 2Of Common-Wealth
17Of the Causes, Generation, and Definition of a Common-wealth87
18Of the Rights of Soveraignes by Institution90
19Of Severall Kinds of Common-wealth by Institution; and of Succession to the Soveraign Power96
20Of Dominion Parternall and Despoticall104
21Of the Liberty of Subjects110
22Of Systems Subject, Politicall, and Private117
23Of the Publique Ministers of Soveraign Power126
24Of the Nutrition, and Procreation of a Common-wealth130
25Of Counsell134
26Of Civill Lawes140
27Of Crimes, Excuses, and Extenuations154
28Of Punishments, and Rewards164
29Of Those Things that Weaken, or Tend to the Dissolution of a Common-wealth170
30Of the Office of the Soveraign Representative178
31Of the Kingdome of God by Nature189

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