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What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House Paperback – September 2, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
Full disclosure, I've known Tevi Troy for years. He brings a unique perspective as both a Ph.D. academic and a former White House staffer who has worked at the highest levels of government. As a result, you get not just an exhaustively researched survey of American history and culture, but also a practical understanding of how government and politics really works. All that and a conversational tone that's easy to read. As summer winds down and we put our beach reading aside, here's a great book to bring you back to substance without sacrificing entertainment value.
Troy also explores the tensions that presidents face when relating to the citizenry. Too little knowledge of the popular culture can make a president appear disconnected and aloof, but engaging with it too much can appear shallow. Likewise, critiquing aspects of the culture can help a president politically (see: Bill Clinton and Sistah Souljah) but it can also backfire (see: Dan Quayle and Murphy Brown).
I highly recommend reading the Appendix first, which provides a series of "rules" and "laws" that serve as lessons to presidents derived from the experience of their predecessors (e.g. - "Murphy (Brown)'s Law: If you criticize artists or celebrities, you empower them to criticize you."). I wish I had read this section before hitting the discussion of the relationship between the president and pop culture in modern times as I am sure that I would have frequently referred back to it.
Full disclosure: Back in grad school, I briefly volunteered as Dr. Troy's part-time research assistant.
The book is easy to read but chock full of nuggests of fun facts and trivia. It is a book that is so enjoyable that upon completion makes me want to read again to ensure that I captured all the nuances and detail. How many history books cause that reaction ? Where was this author when I was slogging through all those dull history texts in high school ? I highly recommend this book to anyone even if you have no prior interest in Presidential history.
Kew Gaerdens Hills, N.Y
Be it radio, television, online, etc., presidents have regularly used the latest forms of communications and pop culture hits to advance their own political interests. Many White House aspirants fell short because they couldn't readily identify with the masses. Ronald Reagan, a former movie star and corporate spokesman, was particularly comfortable in front of the camera. And while John F. Kennedy's 1960 television debate performances were seen as superior to that of Republican rival Richard Nixon, his younger brother Ted was laid low by the same medium. Nearly two decades later the Massachusetts senator's rambling response to a predictable question about why he wanted to be president helped doom his candidacy.
In the conclusion of "What Jefferson Read" the author offers advice about incorporating pop culture and governing. "Our national politics has become a competition for images or between images. Presidents must therefore understand popular culture, even if they don't endorse it." Troy's book is a must-read for White House occupants, their advisers, future candidates, academics, political junkies and everyone else interested in the American presidency.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If I could give this book zero stars I would. This is a disguised conservative attempt to imply that Democratic presidents are not "intellectual" or "intelligent"... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Judy Newshound
The book starts out strong, and is an informative look at how the presidency and presidents were affected by the culture of their day over the past 200ish years. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Bradley McPantsington
I'm a gun toting republican and this book is written for me and my people, but I still found it a terrible read. Read morePublished 24 months ago by black jack
Laughable, really. "Dubya" as an intellectual giant, St. Ronnie the Reagan the best President ever, and Obama a jive-talking, TV-watching anti-intellectual like most of... Read morePublished on May 17, 2014 by Ysabel
What could have been a light entertaining glimpse into the reading/viewing/cultural habits of Presidents instead turns into an excuse for attacking politicians to the left of the... Read morePublished on April 18, 2014 by N Crosby
The first portion of the title is accurate. The second portion....200 Years of popluar culture in the White House..not so muchPublished on March 16, 2014 by Radio Freq
Filled with value judgements, snide remarks, backhanded compliments -- this book became more an more annoying as it went on. Read morePublished on March 11, 2014 by Amazon Customer
"What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 years of Popular Culture in the White House," is a collision of everything I love: pop culture and presidents. Read morePublished on February 25, 2014 by Jessica