Books related at the Presidents - not biographies

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Books related at the Presidents - not biographies

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1cyderry
Dez 15, 2008, 9:40am

Just a spot for book discussion surrounding our challenge.

2tututhefirst
Dez 15, 2008, 5:52pm

What's the difference between this and the "General" thread? When I saw the Topic, I thought " it would be to post books that spoke muchly (good word huh?) about a president but was not the story of his life. Like "the speeches of so and so" or books about others that played central roles in presidential lives such as Franklin, Webster, Supreme Court Justices, Burr, etc etc?

3cyderry
Dez 15, 2008, 6:07pm

I was thinking more about things that he influenced but not specifically about him, i.e. the Monroe Doctrine had a great deal of influence in the Western hemisphere but wasn't really his life story. Those kind of things. THE NEW DEAL, national parks, etc.

4cyderry
Dez 15, 2008, 6:07pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

5sjmccreary
Dez 15, 2008, 8:37pm

I would like to see a place (this one, maybe?) where we can mention other influential people besides the first ladies, such as VP's or cabinet members. In my mind, a study of the early presidents would be incomplete without considering other influential men of the time, such as Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Each generation will have its own important, nonpresidential, people and events that will be interesting to mention - understanding that an in-depth study is out of place here.

6tututhefirst
Dez 15, 2008, 9:57pm

Agreed-- I like to think that this group is going to generate a lot of 'outside the original ticker' TBRs...people who played a large role, ideas, policies, even some general histories.

One that comes immediately to mind was a book I read this year The Worst Hard Time which was ostensibly about the Great Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, but gave a good explanation of the role FDR played in many of the programs that were tried by the government to solve the problem.

7Prop2gether
Dez 19, 2008, 5:46pm

Just finished George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation which is a nicely printed version of exercises written out by the 14to 15-ish George. Based on an etiquette manual writtenby French Jesuit scholars, it is a fascinating look at the perceived manners of the day. Some rules, of course, still apply to all behaviour, but some are historically interesting because they involve specifics of the period (a lot of lessons on hats, for instance). A quick, fun read.

8cyderry
Dez 20, 2008, 10:09am

I'm currently reading my George Washington bio and I've gotten to this point where the author has been referencing a Senator from PA named William Maclay who apparently was not in favor of many of the decisions that were made by the first Congress. He kept a detailed journal of everything that went on in the new government except that a few days he was sick and was not there. Those were the days that the BILL OF RIGHTS was discussed. How ironic. I thought this would be a fascinating book to read but couldn't find it in any of the libraries that I have access too and when I checked Barnes & Noble and Amazon, the cheapest copy was $30. I WASN'T THAT INTERESTED.
But I am going to put it on my list to keep an I out.
Cheli

9sjmccreary
Dez 20, 2008, 4:51pm

Cheli - try checking to see if you can get Maclay's book on interlibrary loan. I found The Diary of William Maclay on the world-cat system, but mostly in university libraries. It's 500+ pages which would be enough to cool my ardor, but maybe you find that even more enticing. Now, while the colleges are between semesters might be a good time to get it from one of them - there surely isn't much demand from students for it right now. Let us know if you get your hands on it - I'm a little curious what his reaction was when he came back from being sick and discovered what had happened while he was gone.

10porch_reader
Dez 27, 2008, 10:37am

I justed finished Nixon and Mao: The Week that Changed the World by Margaret Macmillan. I've always been fascinated by Nixon, but have mostly read about his campaigns for President and the Watergate affair. This book provides a closer look at his most important foreign policy achievement.

I listened to this as an audio book, so that may have colored my reaction somewhat, but I found this book a little slow. Through 13 CDs, Macmillan describes in great detail Nixon's trip to China in February 1972. She also spends some time talking about the historical events leading up to the visit. But I wanted to know more about how Nixon's visit impacted US-China relations after the visit. I wanted to know more about how that week changed the world that we live in today. I'm planning to read more about China in 2009, so hopefully I'll find other books that cover that issue in more detail.

11tututhefirst
Dez 27, 2008, 4:50pm

porch reader: (love the name) I'll be interested in hearing about what you find to follow up on the US-China relations subject. This is going to be so important in the near future, it will be quite enlightening to hear how Nixon's early efforts impacted what's happening now. Tina

12porch_reader
Dez 28, 2008, 8:23am

Tina, I've been collecting a few recommendations about China in general from the 75 Challenge list, but haven't come up with many on US-China relations, so if anyone has recommendations, let me know. I'm also interested in finding book on China or US-China relations from the Chinese perspective. One of my graduate students is from China, so I'm hoping he can help me find some.

13carlym
Dez 28, 2008, 7:16pm

The Modern American Presidency by Lewis Gould is an excellent comparison of the administrative capabilities of the modern presidents, and a nice read if you're interested in the political science aspect of the presidents (rather than the historical aspect).

14cyderry
Dez 29, 2008, 9:00am

porch_reader
Don't forget to mark the Nixon thread that you and Lisamorr are ahead of the rest of us for Nixon. I can't believe how much we've already done!
I just love our little group!
Cheli

15cushlareads
Dez 29, 2008, 11:37pm

I've just found this group. I'm going to resist doing the challenge for now... I have too many unread books and will get sidetracked!

But I've just finished one that some of you might like - The Best Year of their Lives: Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon in 1948 by Lance Morrow. It had lots of discussion about the early lives of the 3 men. He goes off on a few too many tangents for my liking, but it was still a good read.

Am off to read the other threads here and NOt buy any more books!

Cushla

16porch_reader
Dez 30, 2008, 8:35am

CMT - This sounds like a great read - thanks for the recommendation. I'm reading Nixonland right now, which focuses on the period between Johnson's election in 1964 and Nixon's election in 1968, so I'd like to know more about some of their earlier influences.

17cushlareads
Dez 30, 2008, 3:13pm

I'm probably going to succumb and buy Nixonland soon based on the good LT reviews. Are you enjoying it?

After I'd posted here I remembered another recent Nixon read - The Selling of the President 1968 by Joe McGinniss. Very enjoyable, and a fast read.

18porch_reader
Dez 30, 2008, 6:05pm

CMT - Yes, I'm liking Nixonland a lot. I'm only about 1/3 of the way in. So far, it is an incredibly detailed account of the events that led to the sharp political divisions of 1968. Perlstein defines Nixonland as "the America where two separate and irreconcilable sets of apocalyptic fears coexist in the minds of two separate and irreconcilable groups of Americans" (p. 46). One of the things that I like about the book is that Perlstein does a great job of helping me see the urgency with which each sides holds their fears and beliefs.

19cyderry
Jan 6, 2009, 4:01pm

When I set up the Presidential threads, I remembered that there was a note about a President for a Day. According to history, Zachary Taylor was inaugurated a day late so technically David Rice Atchison was President for that day. So we can all say he was included, here's what I could find on the web ....

http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/President_For_A_Day.htm
http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=A000322
http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/Featured_Bio_Atchison...

I figure three or four pages is about right for a "President for a Day"
Cheli

20LisaMorr
Jan 11, 2009, 6:21am

>10 porch_reader: - porch_reader - if you haven't read Nixon and Kissinger yet, I think you will find quite a lot about how our relationship with China started, and the immediate impacts of Nixon's visit through the end of his presidency.

21billiejean
Jan 15, 2009, 9:42pm

I picked up a book at Half-Price Books in Austin over the holidays called The Raising of a President: The Mothers and Fathers of Our Nation's Leaders by Doug Wead which might be interesting. However, I am going to concentrate on George Washington first because I think that I am falling behind. :)
--BJ

22cyderry
Jan 16, 2009, 9:47am

BJ
You're not falling behind...there's 4 years to go.
What are you going to read for George Washington?
Cheli

23billiejean
Jan 16, 2009, 7:15pm

I am reading His Excellency George Washington which is getting pretty good reviews I see. I am just at the beginning, however.
--BJ

24oregonobsessionz
Editado: Jan 23, 2009, 3:20pm

I posted this in that presidential thread over on Political Conservatives, but thought I might as well add it here too.

Sarah Vowell, whose voice is unbearably whiny in those pieces she does on This American Life, has written some interesting books on US history. Assassination Vacation describes her visits to sites associated with presidential assassinations (and assassination attempts). A fascinating book if you are the type of person whose car stops at all historic markers, no matter how obscure.

Probably the most interesting topic in the book: Robert Todd Lincoln apparently had some sinister affinity for death. He was present at the assassinations of Garfield and McKinley, and was in the area at the time of the attempted assassination of Teddy Roosevelt during the 1912 "Bull Moose" campaign. Also, Robert Lincoln once fell off the platform in a train station, and was rescued by Edwin Booth, who was the older brother of John Wilkes Booth, and one of the most famous Shakespearean actors of his day.

25lindapanzo
Jan 24, 2009, 7:30pm

I saw something today about how the National Geographic channel will show a documentary about Air Force One tomorrow night.

This got me to thinking that a book about Air Force One and its history would make for interesting reading. Has anyone read anything like this?

This one sounds interesting, for instance:
Air Force One: The Aircraft that Shaped the Modern Presidency by Von Hardesty, as does this one--Air Force One: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes by Kenneth T. Walsh.

26lindapanzo
Jan 28, 2009, 5:34pm

While I was going back and tagging my books read, I came upon this interesting president-related book. It talks about what the presidents have done after they left the White House, which was quite an interesting twist.

Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House by Mark K. Updegrove

27scaifea
Jan 29, 2009, 10:24am

#24: Sounds like a cool book - even the title is catchy! On the list it goes.

#25: I like the idea of reading something about Air Force One - I'm definitely gonna check those books out.

28cyderry
Editado: Jan 29, 2009, 2:14pm

Joycepa had this review on her thread for the 75 group - I thought it was interesting and others might want to know. I think I am definitely going to do this one when I get to the Lincoln timeframe.
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. There are so many books about Lincoln that you would think there isn't room for one more. Well, I can say that this one is superb. It's not a biography of Lincoln, but instead focuses on the members of his contentious Cabinet, especially Salmon Chase, William Seward, and Edward Bates. These three were Lincoln's rivals for the 1860 Republican nomination. But Lincoln deliberately chose for his Cabinet other men whose views were hardly those of the Republicans, whether conservative or radical (and Chase was definitely a Radical). Goodwin does an absolutely outstanding jog of showing Lincoln as a political genius whose compassion, kindness and integrity combined with his ability to manipulate politicians at a time of the greatest danger to the country to make him the finest President the US has ever known.

The book is massive--754 pages--but reads like a novel. In fact, better than most novels.

29tututhefirst
Editado: Jan 29, 2009, 6:26pm

Cheli - did you read this, or are you quoting Joyce? Can't tell...:-)

30corgiiman
Editado: Jan 29, 2009, 8:56pm

Team of Rivals is fantastic. Best history book I think I have read and what keeps it in my memory is I read it through the '07 ice storm when electricity was out for days and I read it by oil lamp..I thought that was fitting for a "Lincoln" book. Highly recommended.

31GoofyOcean110
Jan 30, 2009, 1:11pm

Yes, Team of Rivals is an amazing book. Very highly recommend it. I had also enjoyed The worst hard time recently, and it brought an interesting personal perspective to when it discussed Roosevelt's response to the Dust Bowl.

I have an unrelated question: How do we count books that cover only a portion of a president's life? For instance River of Doubt is about an expedition TR took with son Kermit and others down a river after his presidency, but just isn't a traditional biography covering early years to death or even a discussion on his presidency. Can I count this for TR?

32lindapanzo
Jan 30, 2009, 1:50pm

I'm not sure what the official rules are on this. I am going to count something if it covers his entire life, not just a portion of it. For instance, I've read part 1 of an FDR biography trilogy but am not counting that. When I read Team of Rivals, I won't be counting that as a Lincoln bio.

otoh, I read an Eisenhower biography that did cover his entire life, though it spent only about 50 pages on his presidency. I am counting that one.

33cyderry
Jan 30, 2009, 2:07pm

Ben,
You decide if the book you read told you enough of what you wanted to learn about that particular president.

For instance, I am reading Thomas Jefferson. I finished two books but I still had questions. If I had been satisfied with the first (it only covered the election of 1800), that would have been all and I would have moved on but I wanted to learn more so I pressed on. Next I read about his writings and philosophies. No still not finished. I am currently reading biography (didn't have much on the early years but seems t have more), so now I'm on a third book and have a fourth one waiting.

If you feel that you are finished with TR, in essence found out as much as you need to know, then check him off the list, the only rule here is no fiction.

Hope that helps!

34LittleTaiko
Fev 20, 2009, 9:30pm

This book isn't necessarily related at Presidents but for those reading the earlier Presidential biographies this might be useful. I'm taking a short continuing education course on Madison and the Constitution. The professor recommended Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen. So far it has been a very interesting story regarding the drafting and signing of our Constitution.

35lindapanzo
Fev 24, 2009, 6:41pm

A few years ago, I read an interesting book about what presidents did after they left the White House. As I think I've mentioned, it's called Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House by Mark K. Updegrove.

Anyway, there is a new release on this post-presidential careers topic. I haven't read it yet but expect I will fairly soon. It's Citizen-in-Chief: The Second Lives of the American Presidents by Leonard Benardo and Jennifer Weiss.

What makes Citizens-in-Chief different from Second Acts, I believe, is that it goes back and talks about most or all post-presidential careers. If I recall correctly, Second Acts focused only on post-presidential careers from Truman on.

Personally, I think this is an interesting topic because most biographies I've seen spend the bulk of their time on how someone got to be president and what he did once he got there, spending very little time on what he did afterwards.

36cyderry
Fev 24, 2009, 6:52pm

I'm going to keep this in mind as the dessert for my main entree of all the president bios. Once I've readthem all then, I'll sit down and read what they did afterward, but I don't want to ruin the "surprise" if the info is in their bio.

37lindapanzo
Fev 24, 2009, 7:15pm

Good point. Personally, I think I will get tired of reading only biographies and will try to "spice it up" a bit by reading something like a post-presidential book. I've also got a book about Presidential Travel on deck, so to speak.

(I realize this will count towards my category challenge but not here but that's ok.)

38tututhefirst
Fev 24, 2009, 9:00pm

I think this sounds quite interesting...I agree, it might be nice to be able to follow up after reading the biographies. Are these books, Citizen-In-Chief and second acts in the form of short stories about different presidents, ie, could I read one chapter at a time to read about a specific ex-prez?

39lindapanzo
Fev 25, 2009, 12:48am

tutu, I don't remember exactly but I think Second Acts was a narrative. Citizen-in-Chief should be in my hands any day now so I can't say for certain yet.

40cyderry
Mar 2, 2009, 3:32pm

A few days ago, I finished the Summer of 1787 which was about the drafting of the constitution. There's another book that LittleTaiko mentioned Miracle in Philadelphia about the same subject. I found it very informative as to how the Presidential office originally evolved as well as some insight into two Presidents - Washington and Madison. It was really interesting that the delegates originally were thinking of Washington as the first President when they were trying to hash out the specifics for the office.

41cushlareads
Mar 23, 2009, 4:05am

I've just finished a great biography that some of you might like if you're not Trumanned out already - Acheson by James Chace. I loved every page and learnt heaps. Dean Acheson was Secretary of State for Truman, and this book has lots of fascinating detail about foreign policy while Truman was president. It's making me want to buy McCullough's biography but I'm not going to do that till I've dented the TBR pile!

But I might just join your group... I've been lurking till now but you're reading some great books.

42varielle
Editado: Maio 1, 2009, 10:16am

I am finishing up Ye Will Say I am no Christian: The Thomas Jefferson/John Adams Correspondence on Religion, Morals and Values edited by Bruce Braden. I'm not sure where this should go, since it's as much Adams as it is Jefferson. These private letters give a lot of insight into how philosophically thoughtful they were about life, the universe and everything.

Update - Just posted my review. What a couple of guys. I'm sure it's mentioned elsewhere that they both checked out on the same day July 4, 1826.

43lindapanzo
Set 17, 2009, 12:43pm

I'm about one-third of the way through the new bestseller, In the President's Secret Service: In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect by Ronald Kessler.

There's a lot of interesting information about how the Secret Service operates and the author also "dishes the dirt" on recent presidents, starting with JFK, as well as some of their family members.

For instance, Carter was the meanest toward the hired help, refusing to let them speak unless spoken to first.

I've also got a memoir by a Secret Service agent, Joseph Petro, called Standing Next to History: An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service. This other one might make for a good follow-up.

44varielle
Ago 12, 2010, 9:52am

Here's a link to a WSJ review of their top 5 books on American statecraft. Makes me think Polk may have been more interesting than I thought. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703700904575391293892742222.html?m...

45auntmarge64
Out 11, 2010, 4:39pm

I just purchased Presimetrics: What the Facts Tell us About How the Presidents Measure Up ON the Issues We Care About by Mike Kimel It's new, and compares (mostly) from Ike to GW. My eyes glaze over at discussions of economics but after only one chapter I am now comfortable with the concept of real GDP, among other things. Some of the book is available at Amazon for those interested in checking it out. Regardless of how my party came out, I really wanted to know the best ways to judge, and Kimel provides the information in format after format, taking into account various arguments for why individual Presidents might or might not have performed (the last guy left me a mess, I had no luck, the other party was in control, the war made - or broke - the economy, etc.). It's pretty interesting.

One particular comparison I've found to be striking so far:
while Democratic presidents have a MUCH better track record than Republicans in pretty much every permutation, Congressional control had almost none - except in those years when control was shared, during which the economy deteriorated.

46auntmarge64
Editado: Nov 17, 2010, 8:46am

I finished Presimetrics and thought folks might find the final review of interest.



Presimetrics: What the Facts Tell Us About How the Presidents Measure Up On the Issues We Care About by Mike Kimel and Michael E. Kanell ***** 11/9/10

The publisher's description is what led me to read this book: Politicians and the media spend a lot of time telling Americans how the presidents and their administrations are performing, but this analysis always skews along party lines. In Presimetrics, Kimel and Kanell take a fresh look at modern politics by gathering data from numerous government sources in order to compare and rank presidential performance on critical issues, from employment and health care to taxes and family values. The results frequently defy expectations. I'm delighted to say the book fulfills its billing.

Published in 2010, the analysis covers the administrations of Eisenhower to George W. Bush, with brief inclusions of earlier presidents where there is sufficient data. It takes into account all sorts of possible arguments about what the results show and recalculates the results to take those points into account. For instance, tables might show what occurred during a President's tenure, and then what occurred during it without counting the first year. And yes, the results do defy expectations and party propaganda. It appears things aren't quite as bad when the other guys are in control as might be advertised (and not quite as good when one's own party is in power).

Topics include: Real GDP (gross domestic product) per Capita; Fiscal Responsibility; Debt (What the Real GDP Leave Out); Employment; Income and Wealth; Republican Issues; Taxes; Democratic Issues; Health Care; Crime; The Public Mood; Family Values; Investing in the Future (infrastructure). A conclusion brings it all together and gives an overall ranking of the presidents of the last 60 years based on how they scored in each of the topics mentioned above.

Congress is briefly examined, with the interesting result that the economy usually does OK if one party holds both houses, but with mixed control of the House and Senate, not so much.

There is also an eye-opening appendix on the budget of the Executive Office of the President, which includes all those "supplemental appropriations". From 1962-2000, the annualized spending by the EOP as a % of total federal spending ranged from -4% (Reagan) to +4% (Bush Sr. and Nixon/Ford), with the Democrats ranging in between. Under GW it was 31%.

The authors work in economics and statistics. There is also an associated blog: http://www.presimetrics.com/blog/

Humor, readable explanations, and numerous charts make this accessible and enjoyable to the general reader. For those wishing to judge the sources for themselves, there is a long section of annotated footnotes, and there is a detailed index.

(ETA last paragraph)

47cyderry
Nov 20, 2010, 12:22am

I'm still looking for this one! Where did you find it?

48gmillar
Mar 2, 2012, 8:40pm

In The Name Of The Father by Francois Furstenberg.
Somewhat hi brow, repetitious, scary and boring for me.
Hi brow - because the writer got too intellectual for most of the book; intellectual in his choice of language and syntax such that I found it hard to stay focused on most of what he had to say.
Repetitious - in that I found myself able to go away from the book while it was still being read and come back a few minutes later to find it appeared not to have moved along at all.
Scary - in that I found myself disgusted with the early Americans who had been quoted and with their "me-me, I-I" systems of logic that excluded anything that was not about them as individuals or that might impinge on their own pursuits of happiness, and, because the author believes that much of what is accepted as "the American culture" is derived from a romanticized, manufactured biography (version 9) of George Washington by one Mason L. Weems.
Boring - because of the repetitiveness I think I noted and for the large number of words used before coming to any sort of conclusion.
The book wasn't for me. I prefer to think better of Americans than they were, and are, portrayed here. Of course, I could be wrong and he could be right. Shudder the thought.

49gmillar
Jan 15, 2017, 11:24am

Presidential Timber by Herbert Eaton
This is written proof that politics engenders dishonesty and that the cream does not always rise to the top. It is a factual (most likely) and pedestrian presentation of how each of our presidential candidates were nominated for election through the party convention process from 1868 when Thomas H. Seymour faced U. S. Grant, through to the 1960 process when John F. Kennedy faced off against Richard M. Nixon.
It took me a long while to get through the book because my wife "tidied up" and we didn't find it for some time and then I found I could only concentrate on the information in small doses. However, although it made me wonder how we humans could allow such anger and confusion to permeate such and important process, I did find it fascinating.
I gave the book 3 stars but I do recommend it be checked out from time to time just to remind ourselves how stupid we can be.

50swimmergirl1
Jan 20, 2017, 5:36pm

As I read the presidential biographies there is always a lot of information on the conventions. They were way more competitive and not already set by the time of the convention. Think I would have preferred that more, rather than how it is now, we might as well not even have conventions. Some Presidents did not even attend the conventions or have an idea they were going to be selected until it actually happened.

51gmillar
Abr 14, 2018, 3:47pm

Failures of the Presidents by Thomas J. Craughwell.
A collection, or presentation, of some of the debacles of American politics which the author/s attributes to the President of the time in each case:
The Whiskey Rebellion;
the Alien and Sedition Acts;
the Embargo Acts;
the War of 1812;
the Trail of Tears;
Repeal of the Missouri Compromise;
the Attempt to Annex Santo Domingo;
the Pullman Strike;
"A Splendid Little War" with Spain;
the Punitive Expedition Into Mexico;
the Bonus Army;
the Internment of Japanese Americans an World War II;
the Bay of Pigs Invasion;
the Tonkin Gulf Resolution;
the Bombing of Cambodia;
Watergate;
the Iranian Hostage Crisis;
Energy Crisis and "Malaise";
the Iran-Contra Affair; and
War in Iraq.
Yes, presidential fingers were all over these historical events but, as usual for me, I was disgusted with the behavior of our white immigrant communities and their media outlets. I wish I could get away from that assessment but I am continually embarrassed by what goes on here and would back away from my "Naturalization" but for family.

52swimmergirl1
Abr 14, 2018, 8:25pm

That sounds interesting, will have to pick it up.