Enjoyable, short and to the point biograph of LBJ. This book was just the right amount of depth for me.
Born in was born in 1908 in Texas. Not a good student. Mother was dominant force in his life. Went to a small teachers college in Texas. During college, worked as a teacher in a very poor town. Worked very hard, helped the students. Organized many activities for them such as sports leagues etc.
Was the editor of the school newspaper. Participated in debate club.
Got a job with a Texas Congressman, Richard Kleberg, a liberal. Used this first major connection to forward career. Became Congressman, served in military while in Congress, then Senator from Texas. Lost first run due to election fraud. Committed his own fraud to win the second time.
Extremely successful Senator. Very good at using rules to his advantage, building coalitions, and when that didn’t work, twisting arms. Very persuasive.
JFK made his his VP, mostly to help win the south. Bob Kennedy hated him. John was ok with him.
Worked hard to forward JFK’s agenda. Extraordinarily successful on the domestic side. Struggled with Vietnam.
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Fun little book about Harry and Bess’ drive from from Independence, Missouri to D.C. after his presidency was over. Back in the day a president didn’t get a pension, secret service, or anything. Truman was basically just another guy, albeit another guy that was a president. He wanted to take a cross-country trip as just another guy, but of course it didn’t workout quite that way. Author made the story interesting, weaving a bit of history, Truman’s backstory, his own story, and geography into the narrative.
Autobiograph of Steve Forbert, on of my favorite lesser-known singer songwriters. Steve Forbert fans should read this book. Lots of great background information on his recordings.
He give the best definition of folk music I’ve heard. If at least 20% of a song is similar to what Woody Guthrie did, then it’s folk music.
Enjoyed hearing his thoughts on fathering twin boys.
Short stories by an American-Iranian writer. Very dark, very quirky. I particularly like the very first story, Bettering Myself. Need to read that one again.
Sometimes her stories seem just weird, but not weird in a good way. Just kind of too far out there.
Born and raised in Vermont. Father held many positions, including farmer, storekeeper, state senator.
Attended Amherst. Struggled early, found his way late as a member of debate team. Excelled, won awards.
Read law. Moved to Massachusetts. Married in 1905. Elected to state House of Representatives. Elected governor in 1915.
Vice President to Harding. Becomes President when Harding died of heart attack.
Biggest achievements centered around fiscal matters. He shrank the size of the federal government. Significantly reduced the national debt. He also was an early supply side amateur economist. He cut taxes which according to the author reduced the deficit (I am deeply sckepital.)
He refused to run for a second terms even though he was very likely to win.
Was known as “Silent Cal.”
Died of a heart attack at 60.
Inspiring story of Emma Gatewood, the first woman to to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. She did it for the first time at age 67. She did it two more times (one of these was in sections). She also hiked the Oregon Trail, and did many others. When asked why she did it, she said “Because I wanted to.”. Love that.
Fairly short history of Germany. Complicated story.
Yes, that John Dean, of Watergate fame.
Dean grew up in the same Ohio small town as Harding.
Harding was a very good student, could do well without a lot of effort. Roommate in college said he would read his textbook through while facing the wall and when finished, would throw it against the wall and say “God darn, I got you!” Then ace the test.
Her father was a very successful businessman in town. He was very active in his daughter’s life, but very controlling. He forced her out of the house after she became pregnant. She moved in with a friend’s family and taught piano lessons to survive.
He also did not like Harding. Tried to drive him away. Spread rumors that he was part black.
After college, Harding got a job with a newspaper, and eventually became the owner/editor of the hometown paper. He eventually became a state senator, then a federal senator. Republican.
Very much a “people person”. Very well-liked in the Senate.
Elected president in 1920. His wife was first first-lady to vote for husband. Won in landslide over Cox.
Had, at best, a mediocre administration. It seems most historians rate him very low, although Dean makes the case that he did reasonably well. Dean says he had nothing to do with the scandals (Teapot Dome), nor did he father an illegitimate child as was alleged, or commit adultery while he was married.
Among his achievements:
- Some excellent cabinet appointees – Hughes at State and Hoover at Commerce (and some really bad ones –> teapot dome)
- Vocal supporter of civil rights for blacks
- Led successful conference to reduce arms race
- Increased tariffs
- Created the General Accounting office (GAO)
- Supported various pro-business acts that arguable helped pull the economy out of crisis
A series of scandals that erupted after his death in office (heart attack) stained his administration. Teapot Dome was the biggest. He also backed immigration laws that discriminated against those that would likely vote for democrats. Reduced taxes, but mostly on the wealthy.
A more negative take: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/08/warren-harding-child-sex-sandal-121404
Pretty interesting. Original idea to break the philosopher’s work down into maxims on how to live a life. I felt it got bogged down a lot towards the end, then picked up again at the very end.
The 28th president of the United States. Born in Staunton, Virginia, but grow up mostly in Georgia and South Carolina. Father was a Presbyterian preacher. Ancestors were Scottish.
Biography of John Fremont, intrepid explorer of the Western territories. Led several expeditions, discovered and documented the features of many new areas. Over 200 places are named after him. Senator (very briefly), military commander, territorial governor, anti-slavery advocate, author, presidential candidate. Habitually broke, poor businessman, wildly impetuous, cavalier sense of ethics.
The title says it all really. Basic argument is that perseverance (i.e. “grit”) is the most important factor in “success”. I would debate that her measurement of success is too conventional. Based on my personal experience and child-raising experience, I think her idea is valid.
Duckworth is a social scientist. Her thoughts are backed-up to a degree by science.
William Taft was born in Cincinnati, to a upper-middle class family (his father was Attorney General under Ulysses Grant), attended Yale(finishing second in his class), then the Cincinnati Law School.
He was appointed to the Superior Court of Cincinnati, and subsequently was reelected five times to that position. Later appointed the US Solicitor General. Next became a federal judge.
He became the governor of the Philippines, then Secretary of War under Roosevelt. In 1908 he was elected President, benefiting greatly from the endorsement of Roosevelt, whose progressive policies were popular with the public.
Taft’s presidency was a mixed-bag. On the one hand, he was a man a great integrity. He tried to do what was he believed was right, often in disregard of the political consequences. To a large degree, that was also his downfall.
Taft had some successes, among them the revision of tariffs, shoring up the legal status of Roosevelt’s conservation initiatives, new railroad regulations, postal banks, parcel posts, two new states, two new amendments, establishment of the Department of Labor, and six new Supreme Court justices who served well.
On the other hand, Taft was not politically adroit. He managed to antagonize both the progressives and the conservatives at various times, and ended up losing the 1912 election by a very large margin.
Roosevelt also played a large role in his problems. First, Roosevelt helped him get elected by vigorously claiming that he would champion Roosevelt’s progressive policies. However, deep-down Taft was a conservative. He simply did not always agree with Roosevelt, and as a man of integrity instead of expediency, he often took actions that infuriated the progressives. Roosevelt ended-up running against Taft in 1912 for the Republican nomination, and although he lost, he managed to make the general election for Taft nigh-on impossible.
Taft was appointed to the Supreme Court later in life, the job he always wanted.
I’m not a big fan of this book. It’s part of the Presidential Series, but unlike most of the others, is not written for a reader looking for just a quick summary. This book goes into much greater detail than I was looking for and contains little biographical information.
Fun facts… The cherry trees on the Mall were planted during Taft’s time. Taft loved to play golf. Didn’t read. Liked to dance. Was very fat. Got stuck in the White House bathtub.
Same basic story, perhaps a bit more readable than the others.
While Dale Carnegie’s most famous and enduring book is How to Win Friends and Influence People ( check out this excellent summary) this somewhat overlooked gem is one of his most important works.
Life inevitably brings with it problems and stress. When this book was written,Carnegie’s generation had been through the Great Depression, World War II, and the post-war boom. Nowadays in these advanced times people still go through, much like before, times of business setbacks, illness, family troubles, and many other hardships.
This book’s ultimate message is that the worry and anxiety created by all of life’s challenges can be controlled. Not only that, worry is optional. If we wish to live with happiness, and peace of mind, we must first deal with worry before we tackle our problems.
Biography of John Burroughs. Few have heard of him now, but Burroughs was once very well-known. “For several decades he may have been the most popular writer of any kind in the country — when he and President Theodore Roosevelt traveled across the U.S. by train in 1903, observers said the writer often drew more admirers at their whistle stops than the politician, soon to be returned to the White House.” His fame was deserved; his work is worth checking out.
Basically the same stories as the other book. I would say this book was a bit more eloquent. A bit longer.
A short biography of John James Audubon by John Burroughs. Written in 1902. I didn’t know anything about Audubon. He was a naturalist. After spending many years in various businesses, mostly failing, decided to follow his talent for drawing animals. Worked out well.
The book is divided into two parts. In the first part Burroughs defends Leaves of Grass against academic, conventional-minded critics that objected to Whitman’s very unconventional style and often highly sensual themes. He also commends Whitman as a true lover and interpreter of nature, Burroughs favorite theme. The second, more interesting to the average reader section is a short biography of Whitman. It describes his early childhood life, his time working in D.C., (including his getting fired from the Treasury Department for the crime of being the author of Leaves of Grass), and his experience volunteering as a nurse during the Civil War, including several remarkable letters written by Whitman about his experiences. Whitman himself lended a hand in the books writing.