Wednesday, March 12, 2014


A review of Frederic J. Haskin’s Presidents and their Wives (1937)

(Rating 3 of 5)

About ten years ago my paternal grandfather gave this little book.  It was his mother's.  Apparently my great-grandmother had an interest in our country’s presidents as well.  She apparently also had a thing for FDR; in this book from 1937 is a cut out of an article of the Portland Press Herald from 1976 with a big picture of President Roosevelt on it in all his glory.  (In another case of irony my maternal grandfather’s mother was president of a local Army Mothers association and led the welcoming staff to greet President Roosevelt and First Lady Roosevelt.  My paternal great-grandmother would have been very jealous of my maternal great-grandmother.)  

This is interesting little book.  Each President is giving a page with a three-paragraph description of the lives and presidency. (So as you can imagine it is very brief.) The second part of the book is about their wives (not ‘First Ladies’ since not all with wives of presidents lived to see their husband in the White House).  Each wife has a biography of one paragraph so it is even briefer.  Next to each biography is a portrait of each President and First Lady

What is interesting about this book is not so much what it says as opposed to what it does not say.  Franklin Roosevelt’s immobility is not even mentioned—which is not much a surprise considering how he himself down played it.  (Nowadays it is the first thing mentioned about him.) Calvin Coolidge gets a lot of credit for having outlawed war, which made me laugh. 
This is nice addition to my collection, almost as nice as my over hundred year old history book.

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