Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame, (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull and Kathryn Hewitt

June 15, 2012

Summary (from the publisher): Every U.S. president is the focus of public scrutiny, but how well do we know these men? What kind of fathers do presidents make? Husbands? Neighbors? Other books focus on the historical achievements of those who have occupied our country’s highest office; Lives of the Presidents looks instead at their bad habits, silly nicknames, and strange pets.

Every president–from George Washington to Bill Clinton–is included, with an emphasis on those who have had the greatest impact on history. Discover their high points, low points, and the times in between. In this stunning addition to their acclaimed series, Kathleen Krull and Kathryn Hewitt take us beyond politics and photo opportunities, revealing the entertaining, complex, and very real lives of the presidents.

Liked:

  • This is a fun little book that completely ignores policy and achievements while focusing on trivia. If you want to know which presidents drank budweiser and which preferred miller products, this title is for you. It’s light, breezy reading that is still quite informative.
  • The authors included pertinent facts about each president, including years in office, number of terms served, and overall number (Lincoln is number 16, for example.
  • Despite the fact that this was written for kids, I think adults can enjoy it too.

Disliked:

  • According to other reviewers, not all of the information in this book is 100 percent true. I didn’t notice any egregious errors, but then again, I’m not an expert on presidential trivia. I guess I would caution you take everything with a grain of salt.
  • There was decidedly little information included for several of the presidents. I can understand this dearth for some of the earlier presidents, but couldn’t the authors dig a bit and come up with something interesting to say about Warren Harding and Herbert Hoover?
  • This book is supposedly for grades 4-8, yet the authors decided to include the wholly unsubstantiated allegation that James Buchanan might have been gay? Really? Why would kids need to know that???

Rating:

Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame, (and What the Neighbors Thought) was a pretty entertaining book. I downloaded it from my library’s website, which means it was free (always a plus), and it was short enough that I was able to cruise through it in a single afternoon. I learned some new things along the way, too. I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

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