Review Detail

Presidential resilience and determination
Overall rating
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Learning Value
 
5.0
There was a recent Jeopardy! champion who apparently got himself up to speed on many areas of knowledge by reading children's nonfiction books. This would have been an excellent one to consult for information about presidents and their lesser known brushes with death!

The most interesting thing about this is that it wasn't all information about assassination attempts that I've read before. Readers who like war stories will be drawn in by Kennedy's PT-109 story (instead of November of 1963), and Ford's service on the USS Monterey (instead of the two attempts on his life while in office), and Eisenhower's involvement in World War II. The spying that George Washington had to deal with while he was otherwise engaged in the Revolutionary War is something I didn't know about, and the sidebar about the Tories was informative as well. Andrew Jackson's temperament and demeanor are described in enough detail that I was almost sympathetic to Richard Lawrence and his malfunctioning, damp pistols. Harry Truman's would be assassins, however, were almost a comedy of errors, although I am very glad that Truman was saved because he was living at Blair House while the White House was being renovated.
Good Points
Each entry is less than ten pages long, and written in a particularly fast-paced, engaging way. The tone is a bit flippant at times (Page 4 of the E ARC: "The constant spying drove Washington batty"), but only when the person discussed is not in any real danger. The section on Lincoln, and his dealings with the Pinkerton Detective Agency, was particularly gripping, and had me holding my breath with the one line description of events. Theodore Roosevelt also gets a treatment worthy of a man willing to give a ninety minute speech after his notes saved him from getting a bullet to his lungs, even though he did get hit and was bleeding!

It would have been nice to have the presidential portraits of the leaders discussed, although many readers today would just look those up online.(https://www.whitehousehistory.org/galleries/presidential-portraits)

My only real problem with the book was that the E ARC was a bit slow to load, making it difficult to go back and list all of the presidents mentioned. The table of contents has clever titles, but does not list the subjects.

The short, high-interest discussions of various incidents might lead readers to further pursue longer books, like Swanson's Chasing Lincoln's Killer, Seiple's Death on the River of Doubt (Roosevelt), and Martin's In Harm's Way (Kennedy). This is a compelling, quotable book that is sure to interest readers who like history, danger, or who want to add some presidential anecdotes to their lunch table conversation!
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