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Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents Paperback – December 1, 2003
The Amazon Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
In Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents, O'Brien doles out the juicy Presidential dope in a witty, concise and hilariously irreverent style that is informative, yet exceptionally entertaining. From G.W. to G.W. Bush - with illuminating factoids and amusing anecdotes - Secret Lives paints a colorful picture of our nation's great (and not-so-great) leaders as being abundantly human and all too fallible. It's enough to make Mount Rushmore blush.
Well written, and beautifully (if not comically) illustrated, this book is a must for even a casual fan of American history. I highly recommend it to all!
Yeesh. It must be hard to read a book when one's knee is jerking involuntarily.
One of the most critical (and currently highlighted) reader reviews takes issue with author O'Brien's research, citing the controversy of Thomas Jefferson siring children with his slave, Sally Hemmings. There is no controversy about this any longer; in 1998, geneticists proved a DNA link between Jefferson's and Hemmings' descendants.
While other male members of the Jefferson family might have accounted for this, an impressively extensive report done by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation found that "it is VERY UNLIKELY that Randolph Jefferson or any Jefferson other than Thomas Jefferson was the father of [Hemmings'] children." (Capitalization mine.)
Sorry to be so specific; in a more general vein, I found this book to be a perfect nighttime read, very funny, and a great refresher course on our presidents. Equal space is given to all, and as that allows obscure leaders like Franklin Pierce the spotlight, I was all for it.
I picked this book out on a whim to entertain myself on a long bus ride, and was so enthralled that I had it halfway finished the night before I left! I found it extremely enjoyable to read a political book about all 43 US Presidents without seeming biased for or against any of them. I tend to avoid political books for just that reason; I want to be able to form my own opinions based on non-judgemental facts.
The only opinion Cormac O'Brien forces on the reader is this: all of the men who have held the presidency are simply human.
We don't know, and we can't know, and that's one of the most interesting lessons of this book. Every President, from Washington to Dubya, was elected by the people in the hopes that he was the right man to lead the country. Every President was praised and damned. Every President was, before the election, sold as the one man who could save the nation from ruin and despair. If not all of those Presidents lived up to their hype, well, therein lies the lesson....
For people who like their history to be amusing and bite-sized, this is the book for you. It's a "gateway book" for Presidential history - you read this and then go on to read more serious treatments of the Presidents, hopefully becoming more appreciative of the vast spectrum of personalities that have guided our nation. And what an interesting group it's been.
There are, of course, the heavy-hitters that everyone knows.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Done in exactly the wrong style, a perverse marriage between USA Today and a Texas middle school history book. Save your money and save your time.Published 2 days ago by Alstew2000
An easy and entertaining read about our former leaders. Many interesting facts. Some of which you may or may not like depending on you political views.Published 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
I read this book because I wanted a quick guide to the lives and personalities of the lesser known presidents, and that's exactly what it provides -- useful and very short... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Anne Mills
* Thomas Jefferson had a small genus of plants named after him (Jeffersonia diphylla, et. al.).
* James Madison was the nation's shortest president at 5'4". Read more