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White House: Confidential Paperback – April 1, 1998

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Cumberland House; 1 edition (April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888952687
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888952681
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 7.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,105,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

In the introduction to this book on presidential sinners and scofflaws, Greg Stebben poses the following questions: "Are we, the people, really this callous? Petty? Shallow? Or easily amused?" Stebben and his coauthor, Jim Morris, are betting that we, the people, are all of the above. This book is packed with trashy tidbits and lighthearted hearsay. Although the authors admit that "this work contains absolutely no groundbreaking or earth-shattering new research on the behavior of presidents past or present," much of this "information" will be new to many readers. Most people probably have an inkling that John F. Kennedy had an extramarital affair or two, but may not know that Richard Nixon once worked as a carnival barker. According to Stebben and Morris, President Calvin Coolidge enjoyed having petroleum jelly slathered on his head while he ate breakfast in bed; Coolidge believed it was good for his health. Some factoids in this book are fun; others are just factoids. For example, it was not astonishing to learn that Ronald Reagan believes that knocking on wood is good luck. The authors devote chapters of the book to presidential scandals, tempers, fatalities, and money problems. A presidential "scorecard" near the middle of the book shows readers at a glance which presidents cheated on their wives and who their mistresses were. Stebben and Morris rank the presidents according to their entertainment value, which makes Warren Harding a winner and George Washington a big loser in their book. Harding had mistresses, scandals, and a corruption-ridden administration; Washington was noble. The authors' central point is that presidential eccentricity and scandal are not a new development but have been part of the history of the presidency all along. --Jill Marquis

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
To: Gregg Stebben, Co-author of "White House: Confidential...The Little Book of Weird Presidential History."
A thank you.
I had to write to you about your new book. I bought it last Friday, the day of the Senate vote on Clinton's impeachment.... and thought it might lift my spirits over this whole presidential debaucle.
I found your little book at the Princeton Bookstore for $11 [it seemed to be the only book not on sale that day]... and I needed a little humor in my life. I was on a business trip to New Jersey [where I was born] and visited some old, historic places of my ancestors and found myself in Princeton buying your book.
I am a scientist and historian and love interesting stories and trivia about well-known people... presidents included. Your book was wonderfully funny and a joy to read. It was.... what we call in Texas... "a hoot" [Check with your co-author, Jim Morris, for interpretation of this expression].
Every page... a surprise. Some of the stories I had heard, but enjoyed your unique commentary written in clear, conversational English.
I rarely read an author's acknowledgments, but I read yours... much to my delight. I thank all those people who encouraged you to complete it and I thank you and Jim for adding it to my shelf.
Most of us in college took American History, but I suggest that you offer a course surrounding the stories in your book.... maybe American History 101a "Weird Presidential History". It might turn some students on to history ...or anthropology ...or even religion.
In any case, thanks again.
Barry A. Schlech, Ph.D.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael J Woznicki HALL OF FAME on November 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Everyone is looking for some sort of trivia on each president, and everyone is writing a book about it. White House Confidential is no exception. What makes this book different, however, is the way the author put things, in a clear and concise manner, easy to read.
I found the book to very easy to read and quite enjoyable. I was treated to several amazing, yet humorous stories of presidents of the past. You'll find the writers ability to convey an objective point of view to be refreshing in this day of political bashing books.
White House Confidential takes you into the private lives of the Oval Office and shows you that what we see today could and did happened in administrations of the past. This book was insightful and allowed me to look at the presidency a little differently.
From Washington to Jefferson to FDR and Bill Clinton, you'll find yourself reading about the lives of those who have held the highest office and those who held a secret place outside the office. The book... would make a great gift for any occasion. Overall a great read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
We cannot tell a lie. George Washington was not America's first president.
It was a guy named John Hanson.
In a new book on weird presidential trivia, "White House: Confidential", journalists Gregg Stebben and Jim Morris prove that Hanson called the shots before the wig-wearing cherry-tree chopper. They even produce quotes from Washington and Thomas Jefferson acknowledging Hanson as the first president.
How is this possible? It's because Hanson was sworn into office under the Articles of Confederation, which predates the Constitution by eight years (actually, he was the first of seven pre-Washington presidents). Moreover, Hanson apparently did a bang-up job.
During his one-year term, the Maryland native launched a postal service, chartered a national bank, created the Treasury Department and--according to some historians--declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. Hanson also handled the awkward task of shrinking the U.S. Army and informing its soldiers that the government couldn't afford to pay them for work already done.
When the militia threatened a coup d'etat, every member of the Continental Congress fled--except Hanson, who stayed behind and negotiated a settlement. Now, Stebben and Morris say Hanson deserves proper recognition. We vote for putting his face on the dollar bill or renaming the nation's capital Hanson, D.C. But Stebben and Morris are willing to settle for Congress passing a law that orders schools to teach about the "real" first president.
Of course, their motives aren't purely historical. If the movement is successful, it could mean another national holiday.
-- Roy Rivenburg, LA Times
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James S. MacDuff on May 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
As I think previous reviewers have pointed out, this book is riddled with errors. The first noticed, right at the beginning, is that the President has the right to declare war. When did this happen? Tell the masses! Constitutional checks and balances are put by the wayside! Since the very debates that gave the American President its powers, this has never been the case.
And yes: They brilliantly nailed the presidential term of the third president Thomas Jefferson as starting in 1790. Kudos to the fact finding department! Most interesting, since the Washington started his term in 1789!
I'm very sorry I spent the measly $10 for this book. Most of the information contained in this book, that isn't incorrect, is simply information that is best suited for today's supermarket tabloids. I realize that Presidents and presidential associates, past and present alike, were/are far from perfect , but I wasn't interested in reading about their dirty laundry.
Two stars, one step above bottom, for the very limited quantity of fascinating informational pieces.
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