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Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents Hardcover – September 18, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: Don't Know Much About...
  • Hardcover: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401324088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401324087
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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.

More About the Author

Kenneth C. Davis is the author of Don't Know Much About® History, which spent 35 consecutive weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, and gave rise to the Don't Know Much About® series, which has a combined in-print total of 4.3-million copies. 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, snd the Civil War, for example, and his latest Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents. Davis's success aptly makes the case that Americans don't hate history, just the dull version they slept through in class. But many of them want to know now because their kids are asking them questions they can't answer. Davis's approach is to refresh us on the subjects we should have learned in school. He does it by busting myths, setting the record straight and always remembering that fun is not a four-word letter word. Kenneth C. 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 O'Reilly Factor. He has been a commentator for All Things Considered, and has written for the New York Times Op-Ed page, Smithsonian magazine and CNN,com and other national publications. 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.

Customer Reviews

Every student of history should read this book.
Steven D. Wittberger
It provides a great overview of how our government was formed and the characters involved then goes on to profile every president to present.
Wanda Way
This is our first of this series by Kenneth C Davis, and we liked it so much that we have ordered all the others!
Isabel Taylor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Desdimona on September 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Woodrow Wilson is my go to president used to judge a book on presidents for quality. This book passes muster on my Wilson Test.

Wilson is difficult to write about for a book on presidents because those looking to buy such a book probably run on the warmer to hotter side of the American patriot spectrum, and one risks alienating, offending, or even wounding your target audience by tackling issues that arise with him, issues that discuss the whole of our American experience both good and bad. And Wilson had both good and bad.

Davis discusses the good, Wilson's measures to bolster "the people" whom the nation is built of and on, but he doesn't shy away from stating that under the Wilson administration "Jim Crow became the policy of the U.S. government" (389). Many presidential books wont go here, even though this fact had a devastating affect on the lives and experiences of American blacks.

Davis does not tell you much about Wilson's views on this subject nor does he go into the effects these views had on the country. This is indicative of the tempo of the book; it is a good overview, but for more in-depth analysis Davis provides further reading resources for each president. But by mentioning Wilson's racial failings and doing so in context, Davis gives the reader a chance to unpack why the complications of history are in fact complicated. This invites a deeper reading into our past. For example Davis writes, "But (Wilson's) handling of racial issues was of little concern to a nation that was warily watching the approach of a European war" (389).

Davis aims to highlight the men and the times of the United States through timelines, presidential quotes, bulleted facts, and analysis. He also provides further reading, both books and online resources, for each president.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Steven D. Wittberger on October 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a thoroughly impressive collections of facts about our presidents that I had no idea even existed. Great work! Every student of history should read this book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Collins on May 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a person who loves learning about U.S. Presidents, I read this book hoping to increase my knowledge of past presidents, get a fresh perspective on old knowledge, or at least get a refresher. However, this book had little to offer in all three respects.

The book itself is divided into three sections. The first examines the origins of the presidency and why the framers of the Constitution decided to create the office. The second, and by far largest, section looks at the forty-four presidents with brief biographies and notable events of their administrations. The third is a short retrospective of the office.

The bulk of the book, that is the biographical section, contains some trivia facts and a brief biography of each man to have been president. While it certainly is difficult in writing a book that is essentially forty-four mini-books in one, Don't Know Much About the American Presidents still falls short.

The first is the numerous omissions I noted when reading this. For example, in the section on Thomas Jefferson, the author apparently has enough room to mention Sally Hemmings a few times, but other events during Jefferson's presidency, such as the Barbary Wars and the Lewis and Clark Expedition are just footnotes. Quite possibly the most well-known accomplishment of Benjamin Harrison's presidency, the Sherman Antitrust Act, is only mentioned in passing. The section on Franklin Roosevelt almost exclusively covers the New Deal and the Great Depression with almost nothing on his leadership during World War II. The section on Jimmy Carter focuses mainly on his "malaise speech" and barely mentions one of his greater accomplishments: the Camp David Accords. I could go on.

The book also contains many slipshod comparisons to modern events.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Nichols on July 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this for my Dad and he is really enjoying the book. It is an easy read especially for those interested in history.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ronnie on November 8, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you think politics of the 2012 Presidential Election was meanspirited, controversial, and intriguing, then you should read Don't Know Much About the American Presidents by Kenneth C. Davis. This book shows how past Presidential campaigns, elections, and administrations make the politics of 2012 look like "child's play". The author reveals challenges faced by Presidents and politcians and decisions made, whether self-serving or for the good of the people. After reading this book, I am inspired to critically examine the issues at hand, scrutinize candidates, and exercise my right to vote!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard D. Harrison on July 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A most enjoyable book with information that you want to have about the U. S. presidents. Anyone who enjoys history will enjoy this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Melody M. Heaps on February 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you expect more that a quick overview with the bare facts, this is not the book for you. However, if you need a fast fact check on Presidential histories, this is a very good source.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is a recap of all U.S. presidents. It doesn't go into much detail about any one president, but rather gives a general sketch of their administration.
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