THE PRESIDENT'S CAR by Nancy Winslow Parker


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All the presidents' cars (or coaches or landaus or carriages)--in a companion volume to The President's Cabinet (1978). But whereas that word-and-picture romp through successive administrations serves as a cumulative history lesson, this amounts to a display of equipages with a single, questionable subtheme: the danger to presidents from assassins, and the Secret Service role (along with armored cars) in protecting them. Apropos of the presidential vehicles, we learn something of their cost and appurtenances, and the traveling habits of the president concerned--information so trivial and repetitive that even Parker's light touch does very little for it. The incidental, substantive information, meanwhile, isn't necessarily to be relied upon (""The trusting Harding was not a good judge of people, and he surrounded himself with false friends. The scandals and corruption that ensued so hurt him politically and emotionally that he died after only two and a half years in office""). What's most disturbing, however, is the assassination/Secret Service focus--which begins with mention of the first attempted assassination (on Jackson), picks up the founding of the Secret Service (by Andrew Johnson), and after McKinley becomes predominant. The car we see Kennedy in (with John and Caroline) is indeed the car he was shot in. (And then we're told, outlandishly: ""A somewhat similar incident occurred in 1610 when Henry IV of France was stabbed to death by FranÇois Ravaillac while driving through a lane in Paris."") This is one novel approach that could have been dispensed with.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1981
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell