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H.W. Brands wows the Bee Book Club

Video: HW Brands speaks to Sacramento Bee Book Club

The noted historian and biographer describes his new book, "Reagan: The Life," an account of the life of Ronald Reagan, to Sacramento Bee staff writer Allen Pierleoni.
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The noted historian and biographer describes his new book, "Reagan: The Life," an account of the life of Ronald Reagan, to Sacramento Bee staff writer Allen Pierleoni.

About 300 people gathered Tuesday evening for the Sacramento Bee Book Club meeting inside the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria at the Sacramento Central Library, united by their interest in politics and biography.

They were there to hear historian-biographer H.W. Brands talk candidly and passionately about the central character in his new book, “Reagan: The Life” (Doubleday, $35, 803 pages), his 25th title.

“One element of Ronald Reagan’s presidency that made him successful was the Cold War,” said Brands, a history professor at the University of Texas in Austin. “To appear to be a protector of the country, the president must have a worthy adversary, and Reagan had the the Soviet Union.

“Also – unlike John Kennedy and Jimmy Carter – he pointed to the federal government as the cause of America’s problems, saying it was too large, bureaucratic and intrusive.”

Asked what he would do if he were elected president, Brands thought a moment and said, “I would start by treating voters as adults and not promising them things that are impossible to deliver.” The audience applauded the notion.

The Sacramento Bee Book Club hosts six to eight A-list authors at the Galleria each year. Appearing July 16 will be James Rollins of El Dorado Hills for his “Sigma Force” and “The Order of the Sanguines” series; Sara Peretsky for her new V.I. Warshawski mysery, “Brush Back” (Aug. 6); and Vanessa Diffenbaugh for “I Never Asked For Wings,” set in the Bay Area. Her 2010 debut, “The Language of Flowers,” spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list.

Information: (916) 321-1128.

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