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Reagan Biographer Who Mixed Fact With Fiction Dies

Edmund Morris won a Pulitzer for Theodore Roosevelt book
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 27, 2019 4:34 PM CDT
Edmund Morris called President Ronald Reagan "the most mysterious man I have ever confronted."   (Brad Armstrong/East Valley Tribune via AP, File)

(Newser) – Presidential biographer Edmund Morris, best known for writing a book about the life of Ronald Reagan in 1999, has died. He was 78. Sylvia Jukes Morris, his wife, said he died Friday in Danbury, Connecticut, a day after suffering a stroke, the AP reports. Morris' career took off with the success of his first book, "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt," which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980. But what cemented his legacy was "Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan." The book earned mixed reviews in part because he inserted himself into the narrative as a sometimes-fictional character to help tell the former president's story. Years before the book's publication, he called Reagan "the most mysterious man I have ever confronted."

Morris started working on his biography of Reagan more than a decade before it published. "I went through a period of a year or so of depression because I felt that with all my research, how come I can't understand the first thing about him?" Morris said of Reagan. But Morris praised Reagan for allowing him so much access and independence. "He had the guts to let somebody come in from outside, stare at him, read his mail, go off and talk to his children," Morris said. Morris was born in Kenya to South African parents. He moved to Britain in 1964 and found work as a copywriter in London. After the success of his Roosevelt biography, he wrote a sequel titled "Theodore Rex." Morris had completed a new book, "Edison," that will be published in October. (Morris once criticized an interviewer's question, as well as the American people.)


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