In honor of President’s Day I’ve decided once again to peruse my smelly book shelves and see what relevant titles I might own. I must admit a moment of guilt always follows these searches when I realize that I haven’t even looked at some of these books since I bought them! I digress….
So I did manage to find five presidential books on my little book hunt this morning. And because I usually buy books that have some meaning to me, four out of the five of these are about Presidents from my home state of Ohio. Warren G. Harding (2), Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley and the odd man out, Franklin D. Roosevelt. I also am currently reading a fascinating book about James Garfield yet another Ohio President. Ohio isn’t called the Mother of Modern Presidents for nothing!
Working with Roosevelt was written in 1952 by Samuel I. Rosenman a speech writer for FDR from the mid 1920’s. It’s a real behind the scenes look at Roosevelt and his speeches.
This is a paragraph from the book cover that gives a concise description of the book — “Now, for the first time, Judge Rosenman has told the story behind the speeches – the story of the often dramatic circumstances under which they were written, of the work and action that preceded and followed them, and of the men who helped to shape them in to words, ideas and policies“. Here’s a link to a recent article in the Huffington Post about this same book, Working with Roosevelt, which makes me pretty darn proud that I own it!
The two books about Warren G. Harding, are both a bit of sensationalism. Warren G. Harding led a fairly scandalous life and his presidency was riddled with corruption and on top of that he died a mysterious death.
The first book I own is entitled, The President’s Daughter and was written by Nan Britton in 1927. Nan Britton claimed that her daughter was the result of a lengthy affair with Harding. This book was considered one of the first “kiss and tell” memoirs and caused quite the sensation when it was published.
The other Harding book I own is The Strange Death of President Harding published in 1930. This book is from the diaries of Gaston B. Means, an investigator from the Department of Justice. While President Harding’s life style of overeating, smoking and drinking were not conducive to good health, when he suddenly passed away during a trip to Alaska and the western United States, a cloak of mystery surrounded his death. Was it a stroke, poison, murder? This book doesn’t really give us an answer but it’s interesting none the less.
Life of William McKinley and his Assassination came out in 1901 to commemorate the martyred President. The copy I own is the Memorial Edition and gives an overview of McKinley’s life and death. It’s kind of a dry, basic fact kind of book but it is filled some great photos of people and places of this time period.
The Travels of General Grant, published in 1879, is an account of Grant’s journeys and experiences on his world tour in 1877. When he left the presidency he took his family on this tour of western Europe, Egypt and the Orient. Grant was hoping that if the American people could see how admired he was worldwide that maybe some of the scandals of his presidency would be forgotten. His theory worked and the tour was a great success. He was treated like royalty, and with American newspapers reporting the world’s admiration of Grant, soon his scandals were forgotten in America and he again was remembered for his heroism during the Civil War.
After writing the last few paragraphs I realize how unlucky it was to be elected President from the great state of Ohio! You’ve got Garfield and McKinley assassinated, and Grant and Harding’s administration brimming with scandal. The administration’s of Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, and William Howard Taft seem kind of mild in comparison.
I hope everyone had a wonderful President’s Day and I’m glad it gave me yet another excuse to dust off the bookshelf!