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The Warm Bucket Brigade: The Story of the American Vice Presidency Hardcover – March 11, 2008

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The vice presidency of the United States may be an awkward, ill-defined creation, but it has now inspired the book it probably deserves, a chatty, discursive chronicle that wobbles uncertainly between Veep 101, comic fable and perceptive political commentary. Despite his lighthearted style, it's clear that Lott, an accomplished writer and widely published columnist, has not only researched his topic carefully, but is also, as his discussions of vice presidents Nixon and Tyler reveal, prepared to come to his own, occasionally unconventional, conclusions. That said, he throws in so many jokes (some good, some startlingly bad), breezy asides and anecdotes (including the revelation that the bucket filled with a warm liquid to which FDR's John Nance Garner famously compared the vice presidency allegedly contained something less appealing than spit) that they drown out the overall story. This confusion is compounded by the way Lott's narrative is disproportionately focused on those vice presidents who made it to the White House. The vice presidency's current significance is another matter. It has, as Lott notes, become a real source of power in its own right. However, those looking for a serious understanding of the vice presidency are best advised to look elsewhere. (Mar. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Jeremy Lott has been published in nearly 100 magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, the New York Post, and National Review. Stateside, his work has appeared in outlets from Christianity Today to Seattle's alternative weekly the Stranger. Internationally, the Lott byline has appeared in publications in Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands. A contributing editor to Books & Culture, Lott's work has sparked debate from commentators of every stripe. Conservative Charles Colson has featured his articles in his BreakPoint radio commentaries and bestselling liberal author Chris Mooney called his piece on book burning and free speech the "best counter-intuitive argument ever." Lott is the author of the equally counter-intuitive book, In Defense of Hypocrisy: Picking Sides in the War on Virtue.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595550828
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595550828
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,579,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeremy Lott (1978- ) was born in Modesto, California, and traveled north along the West Coast for much of his life, with extended stops in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. After accidentally graduating from Trinity Western University, he went to work for several magazines and think tanks. His work has appeared in well over 100 publications in America, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and the U.K. including the National Post, Australian Financial Review, the Financial Times, the Guardian, Politico, and the American Prospect. Lott is a contributing editor to Books & Culture and author of two books, The Warm Bucket Brigade and In Defense of Hypocrisy. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia, and Lynden, Washington.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Jeremy Lott has done a bit of the wondrous here. He has taken the history of a little understood or, or for that matter, little noticed political office and made it into an understandable, interesting and often humorous history. Academics and their supporters will probably not like "The Warm Bucket Brigade" for all the reasons just stated: this is an understandable, interesting and frequently funny book that illuminates a barely understood elective office and the more often than not forgotten souls who occupied it. (Can you identify President Polk's Vice President? No Googling allowed!)

The title derives from the famous characterization of the office by John Nance Gardner, one of Franklin Roosevelt's Vice Presidents, who had left a powerful position in the House of Representatives. Consulted by Lyndon Baines Johnson about the wisdom of taking the VP nomination offered by John F. Kennedy, Garner advised the then powerful Senator Johnson that the post wasn't worth a bucket of warm (bodily liquid excretion that is most certainly not spit).

Lott enlivens what would otherwise be a deadly dull excursion into the expired lives of some very dead and largely forgotten men (all VPs have been men to date) by bringing what can be described as a snarky sense of humor to the job. It is, frankly, a welcome attribute and enlivens the book although sometimes Lott does stretch things.

Lott moves straight into the enigma of the Constitutionally created elective office of Vice President of the United States. It is the only elective office that renders its occupant a member of the executive and legislative branches. However, the Constitution fails to enumerate much in the way of power or responsibility to the VP.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Gardner on May 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When I was in middle school, I had a button with a picture of a potato... with a toenail in it. It was the strange sort of thing only an 8th grade boy could like! The button was my "souvenir" from the Dan Quayle Center and Museum (now known as the Dan Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center), located in my hometown of Huntington, Indiana. It was supposed to be mocking Quayle's potato/potatoe controversy, but for some reason I just thought it was cool.

Growing up in perhaps the most vice presidential town in America (the "highway of vice presidents" rolls right through town) helped spark my interest in politics through two large political rallies I was able to attend. The first, referred to in Lott's book as the "famous Battle of Huntington", was considered a turning point in the Bush-Quayle 1988 presidential campaign. The second was the kickoff to Quayle's doomed presidential campaign, which took place at my high school a few months before my graduation. Our band provided the music; I was fascinated by the entire political process, as I looked forward to voting in my first presidential election.

So when I saw this book about the vice presidency -- which, judging by its cover, wouldn't take itself too seriously -- my interest was piqued. When I opened it and saw that the entire first chapter was about the V.P. museum in my hometown, I knew I needed to buy it!

I'm glad I did. Far from a dry history of an office few people care about (including those who have held it), the book is exactly what it says it is. It's a story, and Lott tells it well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Collins on January 30, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ah, the vice presidency. Often seen as a mostly obscure office with even more obscure men holding the position. I mean who can tell you anything about the likes of people such as Daniel Tompkins or William Wheeler? The Constitution itself gives little power to the vice president. Making him President of the Senate, but can only vote in order to break a tie, and becoming president upon a vacancy in the presidency. So it is weird to think how obscure and misunderstood the office is despite being only one well-placed bullet or Watergate scandal away from the presidency.

In The Warm Bucket Brigade, we read some of the most exciting stories of some of the men to occupy the office. The careers are given out in detail about how some of these guys who were sometimes popular political figures essentially found themselves in a powerless office, which led to John Nance Garner's famous quote that gave the title of the book.

Lott's writing style is very good. He manages to find a perfect cross between good humor and at the same time being very informative.

But my main beef with the book is that it only covers some of the vice presidents. For example, out of the first ten Veeps covered in detail in the book, eight of them would go on to be president (the only exception being Aaron Burr and his famous duel with Alexander Hamilton and Garret Hobart). This begs the question, if I wanted to read about President Van Buren or President Coolidge, why not just buy a book about the presidents as opposed to the vice presidents? It becomes more unfortunate when these men are profiled and their sections mainly cover their presidencies anyway. Too many good stories are left out. What about William King, the only vice president to be sworn-in on foreign soil and then died a short time later?
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