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DiscussãoUS Presidents Challenge (USPC)

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Jul 20, 2010, 7:04pm

Great! I'm a aspiring history teacher, and my goal has been to read THREE books on each president. I start with the American Presidents Series, then read the Kansas University book about the presidency, and then choose a biography. I've gone in order, and I'm currently on Zachary Taylor. I'll try to go through and post about the books I've read.

Jul 20, 2010, 8:23pm

Wow, Ted, that's impressive. I've read only one of the KU books (Wm Henry Harrison and John Tyler) and was very impressed. The American Presidents series seems quite uneven to me. What has been your overall impression of the two series?

Jul 20, 2010, 8:55pm

I guess it just depends on what you're looking for. I agree with you about the American Presidents series, and I think some of that comes from the series' quirk of choosing non-historian writers. (Gary Hart?) But my least favorite one was written by a historian (Jefferson), and that one was extremely worshipful, which some historians can be. I find though that these books are easier to excerpt for high school kids, who may end up caught in the weeds in reading some of these other bios. I loved McCullough's John Adams, but a HS kid might kill himself trying to read it.

The KU books have been very indepth and detailed, and most of them have been excellent. What you come across on occasion is a book though that is very well researched but not effectively organized. I think some historians are so wrapped up in their subject that they forget that you have to make the writing interesting, and some are just not very good at it. I just finished President Polk. The KU book on him was dense and bogged down some, while A Country of Vast Designs by Robert Merry took the same facts and wove them into a beautiful and readable narrative. But for information on the presidencies themselves, you can't beat the KU series.

Jul 21, 2010, 9:01am

>4 auntmarge64: I definitely agree with you about the American Presidents series - it should be held by all HS and public libraries.