I always snatch up books about the presidents whenever I find them. After all, the president’s office is the closest thing we Americans have to royalty, and it’s fun to read about all of the different personalities that have filled the office, from tough-as-nails Andrew Jackson to quiet James Madison.
Most of the books that I find on the presidents cover through George W. Bush. Well and good. Arrow Book of Presidents ends with President Nixon – and appears to have been published before there was a hint of the Watergate Scandal! To say that I cracked up at this obviously dated omission would be an understatement. I outright guffawed.
Also, because of the early publishing date, a few facts are no longer true. For example, Mr. Cary states that John Adams and his son, John Quincy, are the only father-son pair to have been presidents.
Anyway, each president is given a 2-4 page biography. A portrait of each is provided along with their date of birth and death, years in office, and political party. Also included in each sketch is a little snippet of an important invention or method of transportation that was developed during that president’s term.
Here are a few of the facts that I learned.
– John Tyler named his Virginia farm “Sherwood Forest” because he felt like a political outlaw, welcome in neither of the dominant parties at the time.
– The “Whig” party, though unknown now, was a powerful force in the late seventeen to mid-eighteen hundreds political scene. It dissolved when Whig President, Millard Fillmore, signed the Fugitive Slave Bill into law, which outraged many Whig members, causing them to leave the party.
– James Buchanan first held public office when he was 23 years old, and he had earned $ 300,000 as a lawyer before he was 30! (That was back in the early eighteen hundreds, so, adjust for inflation and you’ve got a pretty huge pile of money!)
– Stephen A. Douglas, famous Illinois Senator and co-participant in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, was the man who wrote the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed Western territories to practice slavery if they voted to do so.
Conclusion. Not as up-to-date as The Book of Presidents, but still good.
Review © 2014 Laura Verret