I take particular notice of famous Americans (conservative) favorite reading material when they were young. Departed Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist turned me on to one of his favorites, " The Road To Serfdom," by Friedrich Hayek, who pretty much told all on the evils of socialism. Abraham Lincoln loved the Bible as well as Shakespeare, Byron and Burns. George Washington was not only Biblically literate, he had excelled in sciences and manner. Notice these "Rules Of Civility," Washington memorized, which are suggested behaviors quite the opposite from what today's Glee/MTV Skins kids are taught. Even Franklin D. Roosevelt passed out Bibles to millions of soldiers off to war. Can't imagine Secretary Gates, Obama, or anyone at DOD encouraging Bible reading over sodomy and other politically correct stupidities forced onto today's U.S. armed forces.
Back to Magnus Renaldus Reagan. Shortly after the Gipper was born - eleven years to be exact after his birth February 6, 1911, "Dutch," so named because his Irish dad thought he looked like a "fat little Dutchman" at birth, decided that he wanted to be baptized as a Christian. Ronald, who preferred the title Dutch, must have been more influenced by his Scotch Irish mother who was a member of the Disciples of Christ denomination - long before the current Disciples of Christ became sodomite and abortion friendly. Old Ron would certainly not recognize any of today's liberal, mainline church congregations.
Reagan's favorite childhood book, according to his admission many times, was The Printer Of Udell's. Download it here. The homespun novel must have gripped the Gipper like no other media could at the time. No TV, not much radio, no MP3 players, not many movies, and could you believe, no porn in a society that may have been poor, yet rich in real family values and conservative Christian ideals.
The Printer Of Udell's was an adventuresome Huck Finn type book, popular among boys at the time, which tells of a young man running away from a broken home, complete with abused mother and drunken father. The boy hits the road, becomes a tramp, and eventually becomes an apprentice printer at Udell's in Boyd City, Illinois. Reagan later exclaimed that this book helped him to "become a practical Christian."
The runaway boy, now printer, becomes successful, speaks in churches, marries a beautiful (and virginal, may I say) girl, cleans the town from prostitutes, gamblers, and other ne'er-do-wellers and eventually is elected to take his morality (conservative Christianity) to Washington. D.C. much like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington did, long before Jimmy Stewart starred in the movie.
The book was quite prophetic to little Ron, since he duplicated much of The Printer Of Udell's principal character. If one wonders about Reagan's divorce from Jane Wyman, it was she who divorced him and it appears that she may have been slightly used before he wedded her. You don't get a full warrantee with used cars, either. No offense against Ms Wyman, who passed away in 2007, but she had been quite experienced by the time she met the well mannered and well intentioned young Ron in the 1940's, after being idolized for her film work prior to their meeting.
Ron Reagan so enjoyed and was so affected by The Printer Of Udell's he wrote the following to a descendant of the book's author, Harold Bell Wright, who authored it in 1903.
Ron Reagan: 'I decided to join my mother's church, after reading The Printer Of Udell's. It is true that your father-in-law's book, indeed books, played a definite part in my growing-up years. When I was only ten or eleven years old, I picked up Harold Bell Wright's book, That Printer of Udell's [Reagan's underline for emphasis]... and read it from cover to cover....'
Other books which impressed Reagan later in life, and no doubt influenced his severe anti-Communist ideaology were authored by Malcolm Muggeridge, Wilhelm Roepke, and Frank Meyer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Whittaker Chambers.
Witness by Whittaker Chambers put it all together for Reagan and his understanding of the evils of Communism. Oft quoted by President Reagan after reading and digesting Witness: "I see in communism the focus of the concentrated evil of our time."
RIG (Rest In Glory), Ronald Wilson Reagan 1911-2004 Happy 100th!