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The American President: A Complete History: Detailed Biographies, Historical Timelines, Inaugural Speeches

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After four years in the White House, Martin Van Buren quipped, "As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrendeer of it." Even Thomas Jefferson--one of the country's Founding Fathers--struggled with the realities of the job, saying, "No man will ever bring out of the presidency the reputation which carried hi After four years in the White House, Martin Van Buren quipped, "As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrendeer of it." Even Thomas Jefferson--one of the country's Founding Fathers--struggled with the realities of the job, saying, "No man will ever bring out of the presidency the reputation which carried him into it. To myself, personally, it brings nothing but increasing drudgery and daily loss of friends." An American president must ultimately take responsibility for the direction of the country, an ideal succinctly expressed by Harry S. Truman, who told his fellow citizens that "the buck stops here." Embracing that sense of responsibility may have been easier for some presidents--Calvin Coolidge and William Jefferson Clinton, for instance, both held the office during economic booms--than for others, who served during more trying times. But even presidents like Franklin D. Roosevelt, who occupied the White House at a time of war, nonetheless resolutely took up the gauntlet of protecting and improving the social and economic welfare of the American people. Of course, hard times test the mettle of every president, however golden the age in which he serves, because the problems of the country--and the world--are often left at the president's feet. And though he can rely on the counsel of his Cabinet as well as the Congress and Senate, the burden of making each decision, not to mention accepting the consequences, rests squarely on his shoulders alone. As John F. Kennedy remarked, "No easy problem ever comes to the President of the United States. If they are easy to solve, somebody else has solved them." And what is lifelike after a president's term ends? After the inaugural speeches, State of the Union addresses, summits and conferences, bills passed or vetoed, a president leaves office feeling an enormous sense of relief. But, of course, this isn't the only emotion these men deal with in retrospect. Frequently, with more time to contemplate the past, regret also becomes a companion for some ex-presidents. In his memoirs, Lyndon B. Johnson confided, "I regretted more than anyone could possibly know that I was leaving the White House without having achieved a just, an honorable, and a lasting peace in Vietnam." Within the pages of The American President: A Complete History--perhaps the most authoritative and readable single-volume reference work of its kind--historian Kathryn Moore presents a riveting narrative of each president's personal and political experiences in and out of office, along with illuminating facts and statistics about each administration, fascinating timelines of national and world events, astonishing trivia, and much more besides. These details are here woven together to present a complex and nuanced portrait of the American presidency, from the nation's infancy to today.


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After four years in the White House, Martin Van Buren quipped, "As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrendeer of it." Even Thomas Jefferson--one of the country's Founding Fathers--struggled with the realities of the job, saying, "No man will ever bring out of the presidency the reputation which carried hi After four years in the White House, Martin Van Buren quipped, "As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrendeer of it." Even Thomas Jefferson--one of the country's Founding Fathers--struggled with the realities of the job, saying, "No man will ever bring out of the presidency the reputation which carried him into it. To myself, personally, it brings nothing but increasing drudgery and daily loss of friends." An American president must ultimately take responsibility for the direction of the country, an ideal succinctly expressed by Harry S. Truman, who told his fellow citizens that "the buck stops here." Embracing that sense of responsibility may have been easier for some presidents--Calvin Coolidge and William Jefferson Clinton, for instance, both held the office during economic booms--than for others, who served during more trying times. But even presidents like Franklin D. Roosevelt, who occupied the White House at a time of war, nonetheless resolutely took up the gauntlet of protecting and improving the social and economic welfare of the American people. Of course, hard times test the mettle of every president, however golden the age in which he serves, because the problems of the country--and the world--are often left at the president's feet. And though he can rely on the counsel of his Cabinet as well as the Congress and Senate, the burden of making each decision, not to mention accepting the consequences, rests squarely on his shoulders alone. As John F. Kennedy remarked, "No easy problem ever comes to the President of the United States. If they are easy to solve, somebody else has solved them." And what is lifelike after a president's term ends? After the inaugural speeches, State of the Union addresses, summits and conferences, bills passed or vetoed, a president leaves office feeling an enormous sense of relief. But, of course, this isn't the only emotion these men deal with in retrospect. Frequently, with more time to contemplate the past, regret also becomes a companion for some ex-presidents. In his memoirs, Lyndon B. Johnson confided, "I regretted more than anyone could possibly know that I was leaving the White House without having achieved a just, an honorable, and a lasting peace in Vietnam." Within the pages of The American President: A Complete History--perhaps the most authoritative and readable single-volume reference work of its kind--historian Kathryn Moore presents a riveting narrative of each president's personal and political experiences in and out of office, along with illuminating facts and statistics about each administration, fascinating timelines of national and world events, astonishing trivia, and much more besides. These details are here woven together to present a complex and nuanced portrait of the American presidency, from the nation's infancy to today.

30 review for The American President: A Complete History: Detailed Biographies, Historical Timelines, Inaugural Speeches

  1. 5 out of 5

    Johnrh

    I didn't read all the inaugural speeches, if you'll forgive me that omission. Perhaps because of my lifelong predilection for history (How did we get here? Why are we making the same mistakes again?), this was one of the most enjoyable and educational books I've read in a long time. One couldn't ask for a better, more concise, review of American history and its' presidents. (It covers up through George W. Bush and 2005.) Additional comments: Most presidents had a passion for politics and started I didn't read all the inaugural speeches, if you'll forgive me that omission. Perhaps because of my lifelong predilection for history (How did we get here? Why are we making the same mistakes again?), this was one of the most enjoyable and educational books I've read in a long time. One couldn't ask for a better, more concise, review of American history and its' presidents. (It covers up through George W. Bush and 2005.) Additional comments: Most presidents had a passion for politics and started in the city and state governments. Few were totally reluctant to govern (Washington and Grant are notable). Many presidents were vice-pres who defaulted to the office by death (gunshot or illness) or, in the case of Nixon, resignation. There is Tyler for Wm. H. Harrison (illness), Fillmore for Taylor (illness), Andrew Johnson for Lincoln (assn.), Chester A. Arthur for Garfield (assn.), T. Roosevelt for McKinley (assn.), Coolidge for Harding (illness), Truman for F.D.R. (illness), L.B. Johnson for J.F.K. (assn.), and Ford for Nixon (resign.). (I think that’s most of them. I had to look a couple up.) An unintended consequence of this book for me was looking at the issue of slavery. How I “wish” the Founding Fathers had confronted the issue more directly, though I can understand their concern about dividing the fragile, 13-colony union at its inception. I’m still left wondering how groups of humans can so thoroughly abhor other groups. To be continued.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    There needs to be a catagory for mostly read, or skimmed. I didn't read every single page of this book, simply for the fact that I never would have finished it! There were so many timelines to follow, cabinet appointments, etc., that I read what was interesting to me and skipped the not-so-interesting. Plus, I'm a total fact geek. Really. I would love to be on Jeopardy someday. I loved reading about the presidents, their lives, stories, interesting sidenotes, accomplishments and failures. It sat There needs to be a catagory for mostly read, or skimmed. I didn't read every single page of this book, simply for the fact that I never would have finished it! There were so many timelines to follow, cabinet appointments, etc., that I read what was interesting to me and skipped the not-so-interesting. Plus, I'm a total fact geek. Really. I would love to be on Jeopardy someday. I loved reading about the presidents, their lives, stories, interesting sidenotes, accomplishments and failures. It satisfied that craving for more mostly useless knowledge to stuff in my head.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zane

    I consider myself a presidential trivia guru, and this book is the pinnacle of everything essential you need to know about every president from Washington to Clinton (it has George W. in it, but it was published during his second term, and as such is incomplete in regards to his presidency). It includes every inaugural address ever given, and I applaud its conciseness and sheer volume. I still use it for reference, and I probably will never grow tired of it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Good brief vignettes of US Prez backgrounds and their paths to office, along with their complete inauguration speeches, form a clear review and reference for key facts of American history. For example, I verified that our 44th Prez is just the 43rd distinct man to be sworn in to our highest office.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rick Steinmetz

    This is a great book. It is a broad overview of all the presidents up through GWB with a broad overview of all the major events for each president. The book contains an ongoing timeline that covers both national and world events both political and non-political. The book also contains the innaugural addresses of all the presidents.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ellison

    Exhaustive collection of data about the men who served as the President of the United States. Each is profiled, their cabinets are mentioned, their appointments to the Supreme Court, the Nation Debt during their time in office and more. Insightful.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  8. 4 out of 5

    Samuel

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Woodham

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Laughlin

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Chattelle

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maria Dorfner

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Christopher

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

  15. 5 out of 5

    Perryokeets

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tish

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mark Martinez

  18. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lee Charlton

  21. 4 out of 5

    August Deshais

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Ammon

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  24. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katheryn

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marc Greenstein

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Lewis

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cary

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shaghayegh Bahramirad

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