Ronald Reagan says a new biography of his wife, Nancy, is filled with lies that "clearly exceed the bounds of decency," and he's sure the buying public will judge the book harshly.
Harshly or not, readers in huge numbers are judging for themselves. By the end of the day Monday, 150,000 new copies were ordered. That's in addition to the 600,000 already in or en route to bookstores around the country.Kitty Kelley's "Nancy Reagan: the Unauthorized Biography" portrays the former first lady as an abusive skinflint who ran the White House and carried on an affair with Frank Sinatra.
Kelley claims that Reagan himself was with another woman on the day his daughter was born, that he and Nancy tried pot when he was governor and that he had a one-night stand with an 18-year-old when he was in his late 50s.
"The flagrant and absurd falsehoods cited in a recently published book clearly exceed the bounds of decency," the former president said in a statement Monday. "They are patently untrue.
"I have an abiding faith that the American people will judge this book for what it really is: sensationalism whose sole purpose is enriching its author and publisher," he said. "Neither I, nor my wife, Nancy, intend to have any further comment on this matter."
Kelley, who was also bitterly attacked over earlier biographies of Sinatra and Jacqueline Onassis, said in an interview, "It's a shocking book because people are so surprised to see the Reagans aren't their 8-by-10 glossies."
Kelley greeted fans and signed books at a packed publication party Monday night in Washington.
"Everything is documented and it's all there in the back of the book," she said.