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John R. Barletta

Riding with Reagan

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A Secret Service agent’s story of his unlikely friendship with President Ronald Reagan offers “a wonderful portrait of a man who was larger than life” (Nelson DeMille). 
It is an image etched in the minds of a generation: Ronald Reagan 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 behind.
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 riding skills made Barletta the perfect choice to protect Reagan during his visits to the ranch, and over time, he got to know the commander-in-chief 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 as a rugged man who thrived outdoors, deeply loved his family, and was a prankster at heart. Barletta recalls watching Reagan take pleasure in clearing 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 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.
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2005

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