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Presidential Doodles: Two Centuries of Scribbles, Scratches, Squiggles & Scrawls from the Oval Officeby Cabinet Magazine
Synopses & Reviews
What were the leaders of the free world really doing during all those meetings? As the creators of Cabinet magazine reveal here for the first time, they were doodling. Our Founding Fathers doodled, and so did Andrew Jackson. Benjamin Harrison accomplished almost nothing during his time in the White House, but he left behind some impressive doodles. During the twentieth century — as the federal bureaucracy grew and meetings got longer — the presidential doodle truly came into its own. Theodore Roosevelt doodled animals and children, while Dwight Eisenhower doodled weapons and self-portraits. FDR doodled gunboats, and JFK doodled sailboats. Ronald Reagan doodled cowboys and football players and lots of heartsfor Nancy. The nation went wild for Herbert Hoover's doodles: A line of children's clothing was patterned on his geometric designs.
The creators of Cabinet magazine have spent years scouring archives and libraries across America. They have unearthed hundreds of presidential doodles, and here they present the finest examples of the genre. Historian David Greenberg sets these images in context and explains what they reveal about the inner lives of our commanders in chief.
Are Kennedy's dominoes merely squiggles, or do they reflect deeper anxieties about the Cold War? Why did LBJ and his cabinet spend so much time doodling caricatures of one another? Smart, revealing, and hilarious — Presidential Doodles is the ideal gift for anyone interested in politics or history. And for anyone that doodles!
"This book sets a new standard not just for scholarly treatment of presidential doodles, but for Doodle Studies in general. David Greenberg’s introduction is, at one level, a masterpiece of pointless erudition, and, on another level, highly informative and entertaining. If you read only one book on presidential doodles this year, make it this one." Michael Kinsley, weekly columnist for The Washington Post and Slate
"President Kennedy was famous for his incessant sketching, but who knew that Andrew Jackson also drew? Sure, he didn’t draw that well, but that he did so at all is a bit of a revelation. And so are the rest of the presidential doodles, idle notes to self, and other scribblings collected here. The book brings White House history alive in sometimes perplexing, sometimes amusing, but always intriguing ways." Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln
"Reading Presidential Doodles is like looking at the private psychological files of our Commanders-in-Chief. Each doodle is like personally-rendered Rorschach blot — a glimpse into the presidential psyche. And, somewhat surprisingly, I found myself sympathizing with our presidents: How could one person — even a flawed, horrible person — deal with so much?" Jonathan Ames, author of Wake up, Sir!, The Extra Man, and I Love You More than You Know
The ultimate gift book for any American history buff--the nation's Presidents, as they've never been seen before
About the Author
Cabinet is a quarterly magazine of art and culture that confounds expectations of what is typically meant by the words "art," "culture," and "magazine." Like the seventeenth century cabinet of curiosities to which its name alludes, Cabinet focuses on the margins of culture. Playful and serious, exuberant and committed, Cabinet features the work of artists, writers, historians, scientists, and much more. Described by the New York Times as "voracious, omnivorous, and playful," Cabinet was named Best New Magazine of 2000 by Library Journal and Best Art and Culture Magazine for 2001 and 2003 by the New York Press. Writes the novelist Jonathan Ames: "Cabinet is absolutely unrelenting, issue after issue, in its madcap curiosity and creativity. There's a cerebral joy to the whole enterprise — a firm and happy belief that there is still much to be discovered and said about our world, our culture. Opening an issue of Cabinet is like finding out that Karl Marx is related to the Marx Brothers."
David Greenberg is a professor of history and journalism at Rutgers University, and the author of the award-winning Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image. A regular columnist for Slate, he has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Affairs and other scholarly and popular publications. A former managing editor and acting editor of the New Republic, he holds a BA from Yale and a PhD in history from Columbia.
Paul Collins is the author of The Trouble with Tom: The Strange Afterlife of Thomas Paine, Sixpence House, Banvard's Folly: Thirteen Tales of Renowned Obscurity, Famous Anonymity, and Rotten Luck, and Not Even Wrong: A Father's Journey into the Lost History of Autism. He edits the Collins Library for McSweeney's Books, and his work has appeared in New Scientist, Lingua Franca, and the Village Voice. He lives in Iowa City.
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