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Lou Cannon

Lou Cannon

Lou Cannon, known for his political reporting on California and the nation, is the foremost biographer of Ronald Reagan. He has written five books about Reagan, including the acclaimed President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, published by Simon and Schuster in 1991. 

An updated version of President Reagan, published in April 2000 by PublicAffairs, also was a best seller. In 2003, PublicAffairs published Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power, praised by columnist David S. Broder as “another major contribution to Cannon’s definitive portrait of The Gipper.”

Cannon’s latest book, Reagan’s Disciple: George W. Bush’s Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy, is co-authored with his eldest son, Carl M. Cannon, a prize-winning White House correspondent. It was published in 2008 by PublicAffairs.

Lou Cannon worked 26 years for The Washington Post. Subsequently, he was a contributing editor and then chief executive officer of California Journal, an acclaimed non-partisan magazine that was published from 1970 to 2005. He is now editorial advisor to State Net Capitol Journal in Sacramento, for which he writes a monthly Cannon Perspective column. Cannon lectures on the presidency, the media, California politics, and police issues and has written for Smithsonian magazine, National Review, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and other publications.

Born in New York City and raised in Reno, Nevada, Cannon attended the University of Nevada in Reno (now UNR) and San Francisco State College. After service in the U.S. Army he became a reporter for various California newspapers and covered Reagan’s first years as governor of California for the San Jose Mercury-News. He moved to Washington as a national correspondent for Ridder Publications. Beginning in 1972 he worked for The Washington Post, as political reporter, White House correspondent, columnist, and Los Angeles bureau chief. During the Reagan presidency, Cannon was senior White House correspondent for The Washington Post and wrote a weekly syndicated column.

Cannon was honored by the American Political Science Association in 1969 for “distinguished reporting of public affairs.” In 1984 he received the White House Correspondents Association’s coveted Aldo Beckman award for overall excellence in presidential coverage. In 1986, Cannon won the Merriman Smith award for excellence in presidential news coverage—a single story written under deadline pressure. He won the first Gerald R. Ford Prize (1988) for distinguished reporting on the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan presidencies.

In 1995 Cannon was Raznick Distinguished Lecturer in the history department of the University of California at Santa Barbara. In 1996 he was Freedom Forum journalist in residence at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California.

Cannon has four children and eight grandchildren. He and his wife, Mary, live in Summerland, near Santa Barbara, California.

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