Monday, February 16, 2015

Presidential Readings: Three Distinctly Different Presidents and their Distinctive Biographies.

It's President's Day, and what could be more appropriate than to spend this holiday reading about men who have graced the Oval Office.  This is quite an elite group of men.  In over two hundred years there have been forty-four men who have braved campaigns and won the votes to hold the title of President of the United States.  There are many biographies about these men but some have proven to be better than others.  Not too dry.  Not too condescending and very enjoyable to read.  Some are meant for sharing with others.  In honor of this day that is set aside to recognize our Presidents, here are a few good biographies and little known facts about three of our Presidents.  Seriously these titles should not be overlooked.

Most people wouldn't be surprised to know that out of all the U.S. Presidents,  Abraham Lincoln has had more books written about him, his family and his presidency.  That's quite amazing. However, it was Edwin Stanton who coined the phrase, "He belongs to the ages."  at the moment that  Lincoln died.  How keen Stanton's prediction was back then.  Could he have ever imagined that future authors, fiction and nonfiction, would be inspired by the Sixteenth President?  It was probably a good guess but fact remains, Honest Abe's story is very much as captivating today as it was when he roamed the White House.  Which is why it's so difficult to pick out one Lincoln book that is a must read.  For the purpose of this post, there is one book that definitely stands out as a must have.  Mark Levine has put together a stunning picture book title simply Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. (2010)    It's  beauty lies in the way Levine places pictures and words tougher to give full impact on what Lincoln saw, felt and  conveyed to his audience that day.

In all honesty, every president,  has had an interesting story of their rise to the Oval Office.  Most readers gravitate to the "popular" or most remembered presidents to read about.  Consider this a challenge to read about a not so popular president whose life is not a cookie cutter by any stretch of the imagination.   Can you guess the president who  was elected to office as a bachelor,  was mayor of Buffalo before becoming Presdient, won the popular vote three times but lost the election once to the Electoral College. Give up?   The answer is Grover Cleveland.  (the 22nd and 24th president).
A fascinating biography written by John Pafford entitled The Forgotten Conservative should be on a list of books to read for every American History buff.  Cleveland was probably the last Democrat President who believed in small government.

The American Lion written by Newsweek editor, Jon Meachan is about a U.S.  president who answered to the moniker of Old Hickory and Sharp Knife.   This president had more drama than most presidents.   This includes having fought in about 100 duels, most of which were to defend the honor of his wife Rachel.  In this day an age what would the headline read if our president was shot during  duel  at a bar? needless to say it would be scandalous and tabloids would be there to try to get the best picture to grace the front page.  This president was vengeful, and he was also the seventh president.   If the name Andrew Jackson didn't come to mind, a little history review might be in order.   Meachan does a wonderful job at entertaining the readers while giving a  full education on Jackson's time and life.

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