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Presidential Doodles: Two Centuries of Scribbles, Scratches, Squiggles, and Scrawls from the Oval Office squiggles & scrawls from the Oval Office Hardcover – September 25, 2006
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That sort of summarizes this book, too. While the introduction by presidential historian David Greenberg makes a number of interesting points and his text is generally well-informed and helpful, I don't think most readers are going to come away from "Presidential Doodles" with a dramatically-improved understanding of America's chief executives. Unless, that is, you accept the idea that Greenberg himself considers long-ago discredited, that doodles provide a Freudian glimpse inside the artist's deepest psyche.
But then, I don't imagine most readers will come to this book seeking psychoanalytical profiles of the presidents. Instead, this seems like one of a number of books in recent years offering "People" magazine-like "surprising facts" from "behind the scenes at the White House." Taken as part of that genre, "Presidential Doodles" is better than most, often interesting, and certainly entertaining.
A few of these gentlemen have actual artistic talent - I was both surprised and impressed by U.S. Grant's sketches. The accompanying essay and notes make this an interesting and enjoyable book.
One thing, and, I guess I am over-sensitive to these things, the book skews a tad to the left - and just sillily so. For instance, the FDR part is as rosy as all get out, while Reagan's doodles, somehow, prove him to be the consummate Hollywood faker. Then there is the pointless comment on the George W. Bush "doodle," which was in fact the infamous "bathroom break" note at the UN (p. 211). (In fact, he did have UN permission....)
But here is where the real bias shows, compare the doodles on pages 125 and 149. They are doodle-drawn American flags, the first by Ike, the second by JFK. Eisenhower's is, on the edges, tattered and torn, while JFK's is scratched and "x"-ed out. The flags are similar, and could both be interpreted in the same way, but they aren't. Here's the comment for Republican Eisenhower's: "Did he harbor deep-seated worries that in an age of Cold War militarism the American Dream was in distress?" Oh my gosh! Then the comment for Democrat Kennedy's: "Some of Kennedy's doodles reveal his wit and whimsy. Here, after compulsively drawing rectangular boxes striped with horizontal lines, he playfully turns those rectangles into... a modified American flag." A crossed out American flag, mind you. But the authors basically say: well, all sweetness and light! The evil, dunce-headed right-winger secretly knows he's destroying America, while the second-smartest president of all time, beautiful Prince Charming left-winger is so smart and whimsical and playful. Really?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have bought several of these books as gifts. It is a truly insightful look at our nation's presidents. Read morePublished on March 29, 2013 by D. Scott
How easy it was to give this book to a person who collects doodles of VIP's. It was so appropriate!Published on November 29, 2012 by J. S. K.
I bought this as a gift for my boyfriend who loves politics. He absolutely loves it, I'm so glad I got it for him. Defiantly worth buyingPublished on February 3, 2011 by Shopper
Not a bad book for the casual historian. With few exceptions, the Presidents are covered from Washington, right up to today. Read morePublished on March 15, 2010 by Matthew Zupka
I'm a historian and a doodler, so I really enjoyed this book. It's a great gift for anyone who loves history, doodles or art!Published on September 18, 2009 by C. Clark
I got this book as a gift for someone and they loved it! It is normally $16 in the store and I got it for a penny on Amazon. It took awhile to get to me but it was worth it.Published on February 3, 2009 by SCT
This delightful little book take us into the offices and to some degree into the minds of that most exclusive of sets -- the American Presidents, from George Washington to George... Read morePublished on January 21, 2008 by Jean E. Pouliot