Each of the “Oval Office All-Stars” steps up for a brief say in Basher’s newest cartoon gallery—a rare break from his usual STEM topics (Technology: A Byte-Sized World!, 2012, etc.).
Sounding downright cheeky (“I was one wise sucker, I can assure you,” smirks Thomas Jefferson), each president from Washington to Obama delivers a two-paragraph thumbnail summary of his administration’s highlights and, often, lowlights, sandwiched between trios of bulleted “firsts” or trivia. Despite differences in hairstyles, the egg-headed caricatures on each facing page look pretty much alike (Obama excepted), but Basher does add distinguishing dress or other small items, from broken shackles at Lincoln’s feet to Calvin Coolidge’s pet raccoon. A complete set of postage-stamp–sized official portraits brings up the rear. Green is sometimes loose with his facts—the president is not the “head of the federal government,” nor was the system of checks and balances created because presidents “sometimes do stupid things, have crazy ideas, and generally fumble their way through”—and uses an opaque metaphor in characterizing Nixon as “a shifty operator who liked to sail close to the wind” (did he mean “played his cards close to his chest” maybe?). These quibbles aside, the real issue here is that, aside from some of the trivia, all the information is so easily available elsewhere.
Like Hanoch Piven’s What Presidents Are Made Of (2004), more a quick novelty than a reliable source of information or enlightenment. (foldout poster) (Collective biography. 10-13)