Synopses & Reviews
- Which president broke the laws to keep his slaves from being freed?
- How did a president help save college football from early extinction?
- Who said, "When the president does it that means it's not illegal"?
- If the framers of the Constitution didn't mention an "electoral college," how come it picks the president?
- Who was the "Negro President?"
You have questions. Kenneth C. Davis has answers.
For more than twenty years since his New York Times bestseller Don't Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned first appeared, Davis has shown that Americans don't hate history, just the dull version dished out in school. An instant classic, his first work of American history has sold more than 1.6 million copies.
Now Davis turns his attention to what is arguably the most important and most fascinating subject in American history: our presidents. From the heated debates over executive powers when those framers improvised the office in the steamy summer of 1787 though the curious election of George Washington in 1789 and, for more than 200 years, up through the meteoric rise of Barack Obama, the first African-American commander in chief, the presidency has been at the heart of American history.
From the low lights to the bright lights, from the intellectuals to the disasters, from the memorable to the forgettable and forgotten, Davis tells all the stories. He uses his entertaining question-and-answer style to chart the history of the presidency itself as well as debunk the myths of America's leaders and tell the real stories of these very real people. Here's the young Lincoln building his mother's coffin and dragging a tragic burden through the snow to the burial; Theodore Roosevelt, America's youngest president, shockingly pushed into the presidency--with greatness thrust upon him; FDR, the only man elected four times, concealing his crippling disability from the American public as he led the nation through depression and world war; and Lyndon Johnson, reelected in a landslide, then crushed by the weight of the Vietnam War.
For history buffs and history-phobes alike, this entertaining book is packed with memorable facts that will change your understanding of the highest office in the land and the men who have occupied it.
"In this presidential election year, bestselling author Davis (Don't Know Much About History) returns with an absorbing take on the American presidency. Like his previous works, this hefty but breezy compendium offers brief assessments of America's chief executives, accompanied here by quotes (often clipped from inauguration speeches), a timeline featuring key moments of their life and term(s) as president, and miscellaneous trivia about each commander-in-chief, concluding with a 'final judgment' of their legacy complete with a letter grade. Of course some presidents (e.g., Washington, Lincoln, and FDR) get more in-depth coverage than others. (e.g., William Henry Harrison, Grover Cleveland) and Davis, not one to mince words writes in his assessment of Franklin Pierce: 'Good looks, breeding, brains and piety do not a good president make.' Davis's bipartisan analysis offers a refreshingly agnostic look at the fumbles, foibles and victories large and small that make up a presidential term. Loaded with dishy trivia (Gerald Ford was a male model, FDR tried to have 'In God We Trust' removed from currency) and succinct analysis of pivotal events like Watergate, the election of Lincoln ('he most momentous in American history') and America's involvement in WWI, Davis remains a highly informed, observant student of history eager to share his discoveries and knowledge. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
PRAISE FOR DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY
"Fun, engrossing, and significant ... History in Davis's hands is loud, course, painful, funny, irreverent-and memorable."--San Francisco Chronicle
PRAISE FOR DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS
"Don't Know Much About the American Presidents by Kenneth C. Davis contains a plethora of information about the men who have held our nation's highest office. If you read it you will be enriched."--Dayton Daily News
Which president broke the law to prevent enslaved people from being freed? Who said, "When the president does it,that means it's not illegal"? Why does America have a president?
From the heated debates among the framers of the Constitution in 1787 over an "elected king," to the creation of the presidency, and on through rich profiles of each man who has held the office, New York Times bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis takes readers on a guided tour of American history. Examining each chief executive, from the low lights to the bright lights, the memorable to the forgettable and the forgotten, Davis tells all the stories, offering rich anecdotes about real people. He also charts the history of the presidency itself, debunking myths and grading the presidents from A+ to F.
For history buffs and history-phobes alike, this entertaining book may change your understanding of the highest office in the land throughout more than two hundred years of history.
About the Author
After giving rise to the Don't Know Much About series, Ken Davis has been dubbed "The King of Knowing" by Amazon.com because he becomes a subject expert in all of the areas he writes about: the Bible, mythology, the universe, the Civil War, for example. Ken Davis is a frequent media guest and has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows, including NPR, The Today Show, Fox and Friends, CNN, and The Discovery Channel. He has been a commentator for All Things Considered, has written for the New York Times, CNN.com, and Smithsonian magazine, and serves as an educator for TED-ED, a new division of TED that share free "lessons worth sharing" via brief animated videos. In addition to his adult titles, he writes the Don't Know Much About Children's series published by HarperCollins. He lives in New York with his wife. They have two grown children.