A beefy contribution to presidential studies, the kind of resource from which one could easily build an interesting term report for school.
Set amidst a wash of artwork and photographs is Hudson’s friendly but purposeful text: He’s got information to impart, and this is meaningful stuff everyone should know. He starts off in his most professorial mode, squiring readers through the creation of the presidency, explaining vetoes and pardons and the evolution of parties (including the Whigs, Anti-Masonics and Dixiecrats), as well as campaigns, debates and disputed elections. The long central section is comprised of vest-pocket histories of each president. Here, Hudson relaxes to a more avuncular style as he explores the early lives of the presidents, their families and the work they did before entering politics, then goes on to note themes of presidencies and highlights, low points and singular occurrences in each career. The author concludes with a short blast of trivia to keep things light, but not game-show light. This is trivia that concerns cabinet posts and the Supreme Court and who closed the debtor’s prisons, though he does throw in the president who shot a hole-in-one and one strange switcheroo: “President Dwight David Eisenhower was born David Dwight Eisenhower. He switched when he went to West Point.” Which begs the question: Why, Dwight, why?
A serious piece of presidential scrutiny. (Reference. 10 & up)