Book Review: Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents (Cormac O’Brien)

Book Review: Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents (Cormac O’Brien)

Presidents of the United States

Simultaneously one of the most revered and the most reviled position or figurehead on the face of the planet. Often demonized or lauded for no reason, the President of the United States is a position of immense power, responsibility…. and folly.

And boy oh boy has there been lots of follies in the White House.

I remember reading the first version of this book back in High School, at the time it came out Bush Jr., had only been in office about a year, so it briefly covered about the first three or so months of his tenure. This edition runs up to about the first year of Obama’s year in office. I can only imagine a new edition now, covering Trump’s term, as well as Biden’s term so far.

So far as I know, there’s been no changes to the past segments, the only new changes from the edition I read in High School to the edition I read here is that it added a full account of Bush’s time in office, as well as Obama’s first year. (I could be wrong, since I don’t have the original copy to cross check.)

Book Review

The back of the book blurb:

Your high school history teachers never gave you a book like this one! Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents features outrageous and uncensored profiles of the men in the White House – complete with hundreds of little-known, politically incorrect, and downright wacko facts. You’ll discover
– George Washington spent a whopping 7% of his salary on booze
– John Quincy Adams loved to skinny-dip in the Potomac River
– Warren G. Harding gambled with White House china when he ran low on cash
– Jimmy Carter reported a UFO sighting in Georgia
– And Richard Nixon . . . sheesh, don’t get us started on Nixon!
With chapters on everyone from George Washington to G. W. Bush, Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents tackles all the tough questions that other history books are afraid to Are there really secret tunnels underneath the White House? How many presidential daughters have bared their all for Playboy ? And what was Nancy Reagan thinking when she appeared on Diff’rent Strokes ? American history was never this much fun in school!

Secret Lives of the US Presidents (GoodReads)

The book is pretty straight forward. Each chapter is about 3 – to – 4 pages and covers each preisdent in sequential order. Some are a little bit more interesting than others, and some are a bit more ‘known’ than others (in the sense that its not bizarre weird trivia about the person).

(I can only imagine if they make an edition of this when it gets to Donald Trump.) For the most part, a lot of the chapters are typical histories of their time in office and their greatest scandals / offenses, with bits of esoteric knowledge of each president thrown in.

It is interesting to see what level of scandals different presidents have, and how thats impacted their political careers and how well their time in office went. It certainly seems like the scandals have ramped up over time. What “passed” for scandals in the 1800s and early 1900s are just mere blips on most Presidential tenures these days.

In the Presidents of the past there isn’t much political bias that creeps in – in the way of authorial voice – but in the more modern Presidents… a little bit creeps in. (In my opinion.) On the whole, I don’t think its bad, and certainly not off putting to the point that it makes it unreadable (either pro or con your side).

Its relatively fair through and through.

Overall I enjoyed the book, its a fun, relatively quick and easy read. Not crazy informative, but does provide some ‘fun reader entertainment level information’. If your a fan of history and not a super academic historian, this is a fun little read.

My GoodReads Rating: ***
Global Average GoodReads Rating: 3.71 (as of 4.26.23)
My LibraryThing Rating: ***

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Thank You For Reading

Hope you liked this book review. From time to time, I enjoy doing book reviews on the site. Combining my different interests. Sometimes they wll be beer related book reviews, and sometimes not. Either way, let me know in the comments if you like them. Thanks!


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