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Publisher's Summary

Essays on all 46 American presidents who have held the office over the last 230 years - from George Washington to Joe Biden.

There was a huge upsurge of global interest in US politics during the Trump presidency, culminating in the November 2020 election, the victory of the Democrat candidate Joe Biden and the subsequent, horrifying response in the storming of the US capitol. American politics is likely to remain deeply divided during the coming years and also the focus of global attention - with Trump mobilising his base for 2024. But the transatlantic fascination with the role and office of the US president isn't new at all and in fact reaches all the way back to the birth of the United States itself.

The Presidents features essays, written by a range of academics, historians, political journalists and serving politicians, on all 46 American presidents who have held the office over the last 230 years - from George Washington to Joe Biden. Each contributor has been carefully chosen based on expert knowledge of their subjects and personal connections, providing analysis of their subject's successes, failures and influence. Any hagiographical writing is shunned in favour of a 'warts and all' perspective on each president and the impact they've had on US politics - past, present and future.

©2021 Iain Dale (P)2021 Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

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  • adrian d peaty
  • 12-11-21

Great listen

A most enjoyable listen, especially when learning more of those obscure 19th century presidents few have heard of.

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  • papapownall
  • 11-30-21

Leaders of the Free World

Independent local radio chat show host Iain Dale has replicated the book he compiled last year whereby he asked academics, historians and politicians to each write an essay on a UK Prime Minister. Whilst only 11 of the 46 essays here are written by Americans this latest book is a less patchy affair than the Prime Ministers and may have benefited from better selection of authors with only David Owen (Jimmy Carter) and George Osborne (Lyndon B Johnson) writing more about themselves than their chosen president It may also be that the life of US Presidents are already better documented than their British counterparts and it has become a bit of an national obsession for Americans to publish ranking lists for their heads of state which has lead to this compendium being an improvement on the previous project.
There are undoubtedly some remarkable facts in this book such as Lincoln apparently being unpopular whilst in office, William Taft being so large he was once stuck in his bathtub, Benjamin Harrison was the shortest President and last to have a full beard and Jimmy Cater being the first President to be born in a hospital.
The themes that run throughout include, slavery, civil rights and the power of US corporations and it is shocking to hear not only that many of the early presidents were slave owners but presidents such as Woodrow Wilson (written by Roy Hattersley) was a white supremacist as late as the early twentieth century.
Some of the more obscure presidents make for interesting listening, such as Millard Fillmore (famous for being unremembered) and James K Polk largely forgotten despite acquiring Arizona and California and bringing them into the Union. 26 of the 46 presidents were, at some point in their lives lawyers and whilst most of them were a little dull, it is the mavericks that make for the best stories Andrew Jackson may well have been just as controversial as Donald J Trump.


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  • Ken P
  • 01-21-22

A modern View of USA presidents

It is wholly understandable that the compiler of these essays should wish to narrated the whole project but on a scale 0 to 10 ( with 10 being outstanding and 0 being very poor, I give the narration 8. Too many words were "fuddled" with a need to rewind to hear the words twice or maybe three times. Hope I'm not being too harsh but I've listened to at least 200 Audible books and when comparing this book to the others I've listened to I'm afraid 8 is my rating. Despite my rating the book is very good and it has been a learning curve for me of Great proportions. Who knew that Andrew Jackson invented "ethnic cleansing"? Who what the Tammany Hall business was about ( this book led me to Wikipedia to find out). What a bunch of crooks led New York state and City? My opinion (worth nothing of course) is that Herbert Hoover was a much underrated president whose experience was sought by presidents who followed his presidency, and that it took 7 years after completion the the Hoover dam was named after him, primarily through petty jealousy. I would give this book a rating of 10 overall, it is a very good listen, and I'm tempted to get the one on british prime ministers now.

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  • Simon Wagman
  • 12-20-21

Disappointing yet again

What could be such a great read/listen proves disappointing. Editing is poor and delivery is uninspiring.
With such interesting potential and content the book fails to deliver. This provides little or no more insight than Wikipedia