Krull (Lives of the Writers; Lives of the Athletes) has a proven knack for delivering generous dollops of covert asides along with fun facts and pertinent information when it comes to profiling famous figures. This latest effort does not disappoint. Beginning with her debunking of the myth that George Washington had wooden teeth, Krull briskly moves through the list of White House inhabitants, discussing their personality quirks and qualifications for elected office (or seeming lack thereof) as well as offering tidbits about their marriages and love lives, favorite foods and pastimes, family pets and, of particular import these days, scandals. She goes so far as to mention that President Clinton has "admitted privately that he has had affairs," and hints at his reputation as a womanizer.
Presidents whose terms had major historical significance and more recent chiefs of state are given longer entries (two to three pages) while the others receive paragraphs. All, however, are written up in the same chatty and intriguing tone. In watercolor-and-colored-pencil paintings, Hewitt, in her signature style, depicts each president with a very large head and smaller body. Background scenery and dress suggest the historical era and significant details about the man; those presidents with a full-page portrait include an inset, smaller portrait of the First Lady in the top left corner of the painting. Young readers will find many of the school-report essentials here?birthplaces and dates, number of terms in office and plenty of items that will surely entertain as well as educate.
Paul F. Boller, Jr.’s widely admired and bestselling anecdotal histories have uncovered new aspects and hidden dimensions in the lives of our presidents. Now he turns to an uncharted—but unexpectedly revealing—element of our leaders’ personalities as he brings us stories of what the presidents did for fun.
In thumbnail portraits of every president through George W. Bush, Boller chronicles their taste in games, sports, and cultural activities. George Washington had a passion for dancing and John Quincy Adams skinny-dipped in the Potomac; Grover Cleveland loved beer gardens and Woodrow Wilson made a failed effort to write fiction; Calvin Coolidge cherished his afternoon naps, as did Lyndon Johnson his four-pack-a-day cigarette habit; Jimmy Carter was a surprisingly skilled high diver and Bush Senior loved to parachute. The sketches revitalize even the most familiar of our leaders, showing us a new side of our presidents—and their presidencies.
Former Washingtonian magazine editor (and Louis Freeh's coauthor) Means recreates the first weeks of the presidency of a man who had never expected to find himself in that role. Initially, Andrew Johnson had nothing but harsh words for Southern planters and other erstwhile Confederates. But on May 29, 1865, he offered amnesty to any Confederate supporters who would take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. Though Radical Republicans in Congress were furious that Johnson had unilaterally made this decision, the New York Times praised the president. Means suggests that Johnson took this bold step because he thought it was faithful to "Lincolnian doctrine." But Means is not out to make a hero of Johnson—quite the opposite. He believes Reconstruction was a failure. Intended "to forge a new postwar South," it "instead perpetuated the old one." Johnson's amnesty, for instance, paved the way for the establishment of discriminatory Black Codes in the South. Though Means doesn't add much to our understanding of Johnson, he has done history buffs a service by offering an impassioned, easy-to-read introduction to the 17th president.
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A boy from Virginia becomes the first president
Before he was the face on the dollar bill, George Washington was a shy boy with a hot temper. But George had character and adaptability. He taught himself courage and self-control. At an early age, and without really realizing it, George Washington gathered the qualities he’d need to become one of the greatest leaders America has ever known. Anne Rockwell’s prose is dignified, Matt Phelan’s illustrations are striking, and the details they reveal about George Washington’s early days are fascinating, sometimes tragic, and always moving.
Perhaps more than anyone else, politicians are what they say — and how they say it. In Presidential Voices, Metcalf examines both how the presidents have spoken to the American public and how the American public has wanted its presidents to speak. Drawing on a wide variety of sources, Metcalf shows what contemporaries have said about the chief speakers in the White House. He explores the distinctive words that our presidents favored (and in many cases coined), along with the regional accents that livened the Oval Office.
In addition, he uncovers the hidden influence of speechwriters and the changing media on how presidents present themselves to voters. He concludes his survey of presidential speech with entertaining linguistic portraits of all forty-three presidents. From Silent Cal to the Great Communicator, Presidential Voices sheds new and original light on the ways in which our commanders in chief have commanded the language. After reading this book, you will never again take what our president says for granted.
The most up-to-date, incisive, and accessible reference on the American presidency, with essays by the nation's leading historians.
An indispensable resource for the curious reader and the serious historian alike, The American Presidency showcases some of the most provocative interpretive history being written today. This rich narrative history sheds light on the hubris, struggles, and brilliance of our nation's leaders. Coupling vivid writing with unparalleled scholarship, these insightful essays from well-known historians cover every presidency from the first through the forty-third.
From one of America's foremost historians, Inventing America compares Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence with the final, accepted version, thereby challenging many long-cherished assumptions about both the man and the document. Although Jefferson has long been idealized as a champion of individual rights, Wills argues that in fact his vision was one in which interdependence, not self-interest, lay at the foundation of society. "No one has offered so drastic a revision or so close or convincing an analysis as Wills has . . . The results are little short of astonishing" (Edmund S. Morgan New York Review of Books ).