Mixing Fact and Fiction

Our review of the new Reagan bio: the author's trick of putting himself in the story often captures the subject but loses the reader

It was the summer of 1989, as I recollect, the kind of swampy, sweaty Washington day that makes cheap, polyester, short-sleeve shirts stick to the bulging middles of the bureaucrats. Edmund Morris and I ducked into the coolness of the F Street Club. Edmund had driven over from his Capitol Hill town house in his new Jaguar sedan. But even the soothing luxury of the club didn't seem to console Edmund.

"I just don't get him," he complained. He was working on the first authorized biography of a sitting President, Ronald Wilson Reagan. Part of Morris' mountainous $3 million advance was...