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It is an image etched in the minds of a generation: Ronald Reagan perched atop his horse, riding through the dusty trails and canyons of his California ranch with his beloved wife, Nancy, at his side. But what most of us did not see was the man who always rode just a few steps away. John Barletta was a Vietnam veteran and Secret Service agent who spent over a decade with th It is an image etched in the minds of a generation: Ronald Reagan perched atop his horse, riding through the dusty trails and canyons of his California ranch with his beloved wife, Nancy, at his side. But what most of us did not see was the man who always rode just a few steps away. John Barletta was a Vietnam veteran and Secret Service agent who spent over a decade with the Reagans, poised to give his own life at any moment to save the 40th president of the United States. His superior riding skills made Barletta the perfect choice to protect Reagan during his frequent visits to the ranch. Over time, he got to know Reagan as few others did. But what did these two men talk about during their long solitary hours on horseback--and how did they become the unlikeliest of friends and confidants? In Riding With Reagan, John Barletta shares his one-of-a-kind memories of the President, painting a picture of a relaxed Reagan at his very best. Through his eyes, we see a rugged man who thrived outdoors, deeply loved his wife and children, and was a prankster at heart. Barletta recalls watching Reagan take pleasure in clearing the brush from the grounds, spending quiet time with Nancy, and entertaining world figures like Mikhail Gorbachev and Queen Elizabeth, both of whom were surprised by the spare simplicity of the Reagan ranch. Barletta also recalls the sad times: watching a once-robust Reagan fade into the dark shadows of Alzheimer's disease, and the painful moment when he had to tell the former president that his days of horseback riding had come to an end. Poignant and candid, Riding With Reagan is an intimate portrait of the man who remains one of the most popular presidents in our nation's history. A stirring ode to friendship, brotherhood, and the great outdoors, it celebrates a true hero whose life and spirit are the embodiment of what it means to be an American.


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It is an image etched in the minds of a generation: Ronald Reagan perched atop his horse, riding through the dusty trails and canyons of his California ranch with his beloved wife, Nancy, at his side. But what most of us did not see was the man who always rode just a few steps away. John Barletta was a Vietnam veteran and Secret Service agent who spent over a decade with th It is an image etched in the minds of a generation: Ronald Reagan perched atop his horse, riding through the dusty trails and canyons of his California ranch with his beloved wife, Nancy, at his side. But what most of us did not see was the man who always rode just a few steps away. John Barletta was a Vietnam veteran and Secret Service agent who spent over a decade with the Reagans, poised to give his own life at any moment to save the 40th president of the United States. His superior riding skills made Barletta the perfect choice to protect Reagan during his frequent visits to the ranch. Over time, he got to know Reagan as few others did. But what did these two men talk about during their long solitary hours on horseback--and how did they become the unlikeliest of friends and confidants? In Riding With Reagan, John Barletta shares his one-of-a-kind memories of the President, painting a picture of a relaxed Reagan at his very best. Through his eyes, we see a rugged man who thrived outdoors, deeply loved his wife and children, and was a prankster at heart. Barletta recalls watching Reagan take pleasure in clearing the brush from the grounds, spending quiet time with Nancy, and entertaining world figures like Mikhail Gorbachev and Queen Elizabeth, both of whom were surprised by the spare simplicity of the Reagan ranch. Barletta also recalls the sad times: watching a once-robust Reagan fade into the dark shadows of Alzheimer's disease, and the painful moment when he had to tell the former president that his days of horseback riding had come to an end. Poignant and candid, Riding With Reagan is an intimate portrait of the man who remains one of the most popular presidents in our nation's history. A stirring ode to friendship, brotherhood, and the great outdoors, it celebrates a true hero whose life and spirit are the embodiment of what it means to be an American.

30 review for Riding With Reagan: From the White House to the Ranch

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    A great book about Reagan the man through the eyes of a secret service agent who rode horses with him for over ten years. Barletta provided protection for The President while they were riding both at Camp David, The Reagan Ranch and in England when Reagan rode with the Queen. A Personal look into the private side of Reagan as a simple man, husband and horseman. Reagan's honesty, genuineness and decency shine through as no other author could have written. This isn't a book about his politics or a A great book about Reagan the man through the eyes of a secret service agent who rode horses with him for over ten years. Barletta provided protection for The President while they were riding both at Camp David, The Reagan Ranch and in England when Reagan rode with the Queen. A Personal look into the private side of Reagan as a simple man, husband and horseman. Reagan's honesty, genuineness and decency shine through as no other author could have written. This isn't a book about his politics or a play-by-play of the President's life. The one thing I got from this book was how humble Reagan was and how thoughtful and polite he was to those around him. If you're a Reaganite this is a must read book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nancy England

    Excellent insight on a wonderful president

  3. 4 out of 5

    Doug Tabner

    The only reason I didn’t give this book five stars has more to do with me than the book. The author delivers on the promise made in the title, a good portion of his story revolves around horseback riding. If I was more into that, I would have easily given it five stars. I found myself skimming over parts about the more technical aspects of riding, but what was left was a treasure trove of Reagan lore. I felt like I had a better feel for the man than I did after reading Edmund Morris’ biography. The only reason I didn’t give this book five stars has more to do with me than the book. The author delivers on the promise made in the title, a good portion of his story revolves around horseback riding. If I was more into that, I would have easily given it five stars. I found myself skimming over parts about the more technical aspects of riding, but what was left was a treasure trove of Reagan lore. I felt like I had a better feel for the man than I did after reading Edmund Morris’ biography. I highly recommend this this book if you’re looking for an anecdotal biography of Reagan’s presidential years.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Billy

    “ BEST BOOK I HAVE READ IN 2018, FINAL CHAPTER APPEARED IN WARP SPEED “ Reading this book regarding the private life of former President Ronald Reagan as seen thru the eyes of a Secret Service agent that was his number one man and accompanied him on all his horseback riding during his years in office and after ( encompasses nearly 2 decades ) The story confirms all my previous thoughts and assumptions that RR was just as down to earth, meat & potatoes type man, respecting every person regardless of the “ BEST BOOK I HAVE READ IN 2018, FINAL CHAPTER APPEARED IN WARP SPEED “ Reading this book regarding the private life of former President Ronald Reagan as seen thru the eyes of a Secret Service agent that was his number one man and accompanied him on all his horseback riding during his years in office and after ( encompasses nearly 2 decades ) The story confirms all my previous thoughts and assumptions that RR was just as down to earth, meat & potatoes type man, respecting every person regardless of their station in life and completely VOID of egotism and narcissistic behavior . You cannot keep a personality like his hidden under a rock. In 1980 while running for POTUS he came to Henderson County North Carolina and the Republican Party bought a full page in the local TIMES NEWS newspaper which is a subsidiary of the NEW YORK TIMES. The page displayed all National, State and County candidates running for office. Ronald Reagan’s photo and name was top center on the page, my photo and name was on the bottom line, I was in a race against the incumbent Democrat Chief District Court Judge. Early in the campaign I left 3 current photographs of myself with the newspaper to be used, instead my name was purposely Misspelled ( I had been a State employed Magistrate in the County for the previous 5 years ) the newspaper found a 20 Year old photo of me and displayed that one after evenly brushing ink all over the photo giving me the appearance of African - American. I went into the Editors office and told him I thought that was an under handed thing he had done. Instead of saying it must have been accidental he chose to state, “ you can’t beat a newspaper man that can buy printers Ink by the 50 gallon barrel. “ Politics has not changed in the past 38 years.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    One of my earliest memories of my dad is him walking through the door on election night 1980, a big smile on his face, saying “our guy is winning!” This lit an interest in me about Ronald Reagan, even though I was only six years old when he was elected. Riding With Reagan may be my favorite book about Reagan. The insight from John Barletta, long Time Secret Service agent who worked closely with the Reagans for over twenty years, could fairly be considered biased - he became a close personal frie One of my earliest memories of my dad is him walking through the door on election night 1980, a big smile on his face, saying “our guy is winning!” This lit an interest in me about Ronald Reagan, even though I was only six years old when he was elected. Riding With Reagan may be my favorite book about Reagan. The insight from John Barletta, long Time Secret Service agent who worked closely with the Reagans for over twenty years, could fairly be considered biased - he became a close personal friend of both President and Mrs. Reagan - but I loved reading his anecdotes and first hand accounts of Reagan’s classic sunny and humble but determined personality. Politics are not touched, this is an account of the man behind the scenes. It’s a treat to read. I really wish my dad was still alive because I would truly love to give him a copy of this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    A biography about Reagan the man told by a Secret Service Agent who served him for over thirteen years, which is almost unprecedented in the agency. It was their love of horses that formed a bond. I admit that I don’t know much about horses, but have several friends who, like Reagan and the author, are experienced riders and horse lovers. This book helped me understand Reagan the person (even if it’s from a slightly biased perspective) and learn more about horses at the same time without delvin A biography about Reagan the man told by a Secret Service Agent who served him for over thirteen years, which is almost unprecedented in the agency. It was their love of horses that formed a bond. I admit that I don’t know much about horses, but have several friends who, like Reagan and the author, are experienced riders and horse lovers. This book helped me understand Reagan the person (even if it’s from a slightly biased perspective) and learn more about horses at the same time without delving back into the politics of his tenure as President.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa J. Troutman

    I pulled this book off the library shelf because its jacket boasted three things that interest me: President Reagan, bodyguard work, and horses. I learned a great deal about all three. :) This sketch depicts one of our greatest presidents in a style that epitomizes the man himself: simple, relaxed, and interesting. It's a moving memoir by Mr. Barletta and a fitting tribute to President Reagan. I pulled this book off the library shelf because its jacket boasted three things that interest me: President Reagan, bodyguard work, and horses. I learned a great deal about all three. :) This sketch depicts one of our greatest presidents in a style that epitomizes the man himself: simple, relaxed, and interesting. It's a moving memoir by Mr. Barletta and a fitting tribute to President Reagan.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Larry Orr

    Secret Service agent and equestrian John R. Barletta provides an intimate portrait of President Ronald Reagan, whom he knew for more than two decades. Barletta describes the creation of the mounted Secret Service, portrays Reagan as a world leader as well as a family man, a rancher and a horseman, and provides the reader with a wealth of information on horses and horsemanship.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Carroll

    Reagan Always respected Ronald Reagan, didn’t always agree with him, but a very good President. You could tell he always had the people of the USA in all his decisions. Seemed like his staff, and protection detail loved the man and his wife Nancy for who they Really were - down to earth, nice and respectful people. All in all I enjoyed the book and stories within.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steven R.

    Interesting, engaging and a page turner all the way through. I know nothing about horses but that was no hindrance. As it says it’s a unique portrait of Reagan. Lots of humorous and touching anecdotes. Some of the stories/phrases were unnecessary repeated, so 4 stars just for structure. But definitely recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Calla

    Excellent memoir of the Regan years, from someone who knew the president professionally as well as personally. As one of the personal Secret Service derail to the president, John Berletti had a unique glimpse into Regans world - the private side as well and the public life. A well-told account of the world of an extraordinary leader.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Graça Correia

    A heartwarming book A touching homage to a great President! And a beautiful and patriotic portrait of a loyal Secret Agent! This is a book to read and keep since we can know better this President, who was fond of his wife, country and horse riding. A very humble and genuine man, a real Man who lived his life according to a true cowboy spirit!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Danhauer

    An absolutely fascinating behind the scenes account proving that the private man was exactly what he appeared to be 'on camera'. Would that we had a President like this one just one more time in my lifetime! An absolutely fascinating behind the scenes account proving that the private man was exactly what he appeared to be 'on camera'. Would that we had a President like this one just one more time in my lifetime!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris Lustick

    Living tribute Mr. Bartlett obviously has so much respect for President Reagan as a man and as a President of the US. His recollections of his time spent with the Reagans are intriguing and respectfully detailed.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Ned

    Wonderful insight! This book provides an insight into a side of Reagan that we never knew. Terrific on her terrific stories so glad he wrote it. Priceless work shows what a wonderful man Ronald Reagan was.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Sias

    The author is not the best writer in the world, transitions are very rough and there is some repetition. However, his firsthand experiences and stories he has to tell are really interesting, making this book well worth the read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This book was full of great anecdotes that only someone in Barletta's position and level of friendship with Reagan could collect. Definitely an interesting read if you like hearing about the personalities of presidents. This book was full of great anecdotes that only someone in Barletta's position and level of friendship with Reagan could collect. Definitely an interesting read if you like hearing about the personalities of presidents.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anthony A

    Interesting stories.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Donna McComas

    Favorite president in my lifetime, and this book makes me love President Reagan even more. Our country was truly blessed to have him as our leader, and this wonderful book is a tribute to his honor.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mindy Merritt

    What a beautiful relationship between President Reagan & the writer.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachelle

    Particularly endearing view of Ronald Reagan from his personal SS agent who rode with him. His kindness and humility are expressed in the stories Barletta tells so well.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pat Mayorga

    A great read Easily a 5-star book. A great read. Very personal. Uncomplicated. The best way to get to know a great President.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Great story about one of the greatest American presidents in history from the intimate perspective of someone who knew him well.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    #153 of 160 books pledged to read during 2019

  25. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    THE MOST AMAZING BOOK I HAVE EVER READ!!!!!! I cried at the end.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dayne Maple

    I am a horse enthusiast and was a fan of Ron Reagan as President. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robert K

    A great apolitical firsthand look at the character of Ronald Reagan as seen through a Secret Serviceman’s 20 plus years together.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Woodsie

    A great look into the person and what he was like, which followed through into his presidency.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn Knight

    Such a wonderful good feeling book about a Secret Service agent’s relationship with Ronald Reagan - mainly while on horseback. This book focuses on their relationship related to the time spent on horses & less on other parts of Reagan’s presidency. Full of wonderful stories. A great read!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    As I was reading, my impression of this book was that it is a nice story of Agent Barletta's time spent with Ronald Reagan, a man of dignity, honor, charm, wisdom, strength, character, and love. The book is very easy to read as Barletta and his co-author Rochelle Schweizer fill in, chapter by chapter, a portrait of this wonderful gentleman who just happened to be our 40th president. Only as I read the final two chapters, "Closing Scene" and "The Ending", did I realize how the book had drawn me i As I was reading, my impression of this book was that it is a nice story of Agent Barletta's time spent with Ronald Reagan, a man of dignity, honor, charm, wisdom, strength, character, and love. The book is very easy to read as Barletta and his co-author Rochelle Schweizer fill in, chapter by chapter, a portrait of this wonderful gentleman who just happened to be our 40th president. Only as I read the final two chapters, "Closing Scene" and "The Ending", did I realize how the book had drawn me into Reagan's life. Perhaps because of someone else close following a similar path, I really felt Barletta's pain of seeing Reagan slip away. I'm grateful Barletta shared his story. This book would be suitable for teenage readers as well as adults. Because so much of the story occurs on the Reagan ranch and in other riding situations, the reader learns a lot about horses and trail riding. The book is very light on politics. Readers can enjoy this book even if they disagree with Reagan's policies. The book only briefly touches on the assassination attempt, as Barletta wasn't directly involved. For those interested in that subject, and in another look at the Secret Service, Rawhide Down would be an excellent choice. Barletta does mention another plot against Reagan by a person nicknamed The Jackal, but gives very little detail. Perhaps the information is still classified. I wish he could have told more. Every time I read about Reagan, I can't help but compare him to our current crop of leaders and wannabe's. Most, if not all, of the current group on both sides of the aisle come up short. Which makes me appreciate Ronald Reagan even more.

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