Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs & Michael Duffy

Some historical books I've written about have a disclaimer that some of it needs to be skimmed before getting to the good stuff.  If any of you actually read the books after that, you must be die-hard history buffs.  Good for you for keeping at it.

It is not the case with this book.  Two Time Magazine writers tackled the premise that U.S. presidents have relied on their retired peers since the time of Truman to help them navigate the hugely difficult task of being president.  They don't plow new ground in describing the presidencies nor their interactions with past presidents, but it presents a reasonably unbiased view of those presidencies and provides a context as to the dilemmas they faced that is a compelling bit of story-telling.

I was born during the Truman era and so remember at least snippets of the described events from Eisenhower onward and have formed opinions about each of them, regardless of how much I knew about their complete time in office.  That is probably true for us all.  Now that I've read this book, there's been a little rearranging in the list of best to worst presidents and a greater appreciation for all of them, regardless of flaws and failures.

This is not hard reading and in no way like most text books.  It moves right along and provides enough interesting history and context to be worth your while.  If you like history at all, you should like this book.

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