Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told: A Book Review

Had I been given the opportunity 10 years ago to review a book chock full of history, I might have said no. In high school, try as I might, history was always the first subject that I fell asleep in- mostly related to the lack of decent sleep because of my childhood. That would be my history and we won't talk about that today.

When I saw that The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told (by Rick Beyer) was available for review, I seriously contemplated not doing it. I told my husband- a huge history buff- and his response was "Sweet! I definitely want to read that!", vs. my response which I said in a joking manner "Wow, this is really- *snort snore* ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz....". ;)

BUT, I am here to say that this definitely is NOT the case. After reading this book for just a few minutes I was enthralled and I couldn't put it down. The best part? For once I knew something of history that my dear husband did not! I realized that my inability to retain important dates and historical facts was because of my childhood, not because there was a lack of wanting to know.

The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told is full of funny and interesting tidbits of history, from our founding fathers up to recent U.S. presidents. Some of the historical facts included in this book are:

  • George Washington could have been born a Brit, had it not been for his grandfather and a custody battle involving George's father and uncle.
  • Aaron Burr, one of history's more infamous characters, was responsible for the matchmaking of (then) Congressman James Madison to his future wife, Dolley.
  • Thomas Jefferson disliked the Bible's New Testament enough that he cut and pasted the parts that suited him into what is now referred to as The Jefferson Bible.
  • Despite being known as one of the more self-disciplined presidents, John Quincy Adams was later discovered to have enjoyed bathing naked in the Potomac every morning, even after a near death experience.
  • President Lincoln had a premonition of his untimely death, just 3 short days before.
  • The Smithsonian isn't named after an American, but after a British Chemist who left all of his money to the U.S. government after his death in 1853 to "increase... knowledge among men"- to the tune of a half million, which is roughly worth $10 million today.
These are just a few of the quirky facts in this book, and I really enjoyed reading every juicy detail. The information in this book sheds light on relatively unknown facts about the important men in U.S. history, but in an engaging and sometimes humorous way. What I loved about reading this book was discovering the human in our forefathers, the men that have become like gods and mythical creatures.

They were just men after all, only better dressed. ;)

I hope you have enjoyed my review of The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told. Even if you think you don't love history, you are bound to love something about this book.

*** All the book reviews done for HarperCollins or Collins Publishing (an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishing) are done with one stipulation- I receive the book for free and read it. If I like it, I review it on my blog. These are not paid reviews per se, except for receiving the book.***


Not So Anonymous Michelle said...

It does actually sound like a history book I would read rather than pretend to or skim just enough to get through a class!

Next semester I'm actually taking a history class that sounds pretty interesting with an instructor I've enjoyed class with before...History Goes to the Movies. Better yet, hubby and I are taking that together. This semester it's History of Rock & Roll together, starting Monday! :)

Avery Gray said...

That's my kind of history! Sounds great!

gretty said...

I've just found my boyfriend's x-mas present - thanx! Btw, congrats on your ipod win!