PRESIDENTIAL ANECDOTES by Paul F. Boiler

PRESIDENTIAL ANECDOTES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Even, by gosh, Rutherford B. Hayes stories--both bright sayings about him and his own (few) bon mots. But, appearances to the contrary, the book isn't pap: Boiler (American History, Texas Christian Univ.) incorporates the tales about the 39 US chief execs into brief personal and political profiles. And he doesn't wax genial (or cynical): ""Andrew Johnson's presidency was a failure, but Johnson himself was in many respects an impressive man""; ""McKinley, the kind and gentle President, is remembered primarily for taking the nation into the Spanish-American War."" So it's not a bad way to get to know the presidents--and it may be the most direct, candid introduction to the present incumbent around: ""Reagan's ideal,"" Boller writes, ""was a government that was by turns weak (at home) and strong (abroad), but he never explained how it could be both. Instead he resorted to generalities."" (Boller also cites--tomorrow's folklore, perhaps?--the celebrated campaign simplicisms, one by one.) Gaffes have of course a natural place here--along with the presidential virus (""Stop your nonsense and drink your whiskey,"" Z. Taylor first scoffed) and presidential quirks. And there are the anecdotes: JFK witticisms and Nixon bloopers, pages of Lincoln laugh-lines (often at his own expense) and even a joke--by FDR--on Eleanor. Entertaining and effortlessly, unassumingly informing.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press