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Don't Know Much About the American Presidents (Don't Know Much About)

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3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  315 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
Which president broke the law to prevent enslaved people from being freed? Who said, "When the president does it,that means it's not illegal"? Why does America have a president? From the heated debates among the framers of the Constitution in 1787 over an "elected king," to the creation of the presidency, and on through rich profiles of each man who has held the office, Ne ...more
Hardcover, 752 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Hachette Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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(showing 1-30)
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Linda
Aug 24, 2014 Linda rated it did not like it
This book portends to be historical but it is nothing more than
Liberal-biased media. For the reviews of the most recent presidents, the author's analysis is superficial. He has simply taken the spin of the liberal media and regurgitated it as fact. Yuck!
Peter Mcloughlin
Not a bad source for thumbnail portraits of the presidents and the office of the presidency. I do have serious qualms about Davis's ratings. They are safe CNN both sides balanced ratings. I seriously disagree with giving Reagan a high rating and LBJs was a little low. He hits the safe bets well FDR, Lincoln, Washington,TR but I would have liked something a little less vanilla.
Anthony
Aug 24, 2014 Anthony rated it liked it
Good summary of each President. Thought the writer was a bit to bias against some Presidents over others. Was'nt neutral. Knew pretty fast what party he belonged to. I felt the disgust in the way he wrote about certain Presidents. And the pleasure about others!
Shaun Campbell
Dec 28, 2014 Shaun Campbell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of good information for those without knowledge of the history of the presidency.
Cathryn Conroy
Oct 18, 2016 Cathryn Conroy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you think we have never seen a presidential campaign like the one that is now playing out between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, think again. Exhibit A: This is a description of which presidential campaign? "…party divisions that had been growing for a decade burst into acrimonious campaigning, slanderous charges, and backroom dealing." Answer: Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.

What a fun book on the presidents! It is long at more than 750 pages, but worth the time and commitment it takes to
...more
Nell
Aug 24, 2014 Nell rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Reading Rising Tide made me realize how little I knew about the U.S. presidents, so I read a couple of books of capsule biographies. The other is U.S. Presidents for Dummies by Marcus A. Stadelman.

Both have analysis and give a letter grade to each president. I liked this one for its timelines of events, including those not included in the discussion which still give the context of the times. Because Davis's book is longer it can tell more about each president. And it's newer, ending with Obama;
...more
Heather
After having enjoyed the initial installment of the Don’t Know Much About… series I was excited to read Kenneth C. Davis’ take on the American Presidents. Davis breaks his narrative down into three major sections: The Making of the President; Presidential Profiles; and What Should We Do With the President?. The first section focuses on what the Constitutional framers intended the role of the President to be (or not be). The second, and admittedly where the bulk of the book takes place, is a look ...more
Pamela
Aug 27, 2014 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I just received my copy of Don't Know Much About the American Presidents by Kenneth C. Davis along with the audio book. Already we are listening as a family in the van and thoroughly enjoying it! More to come as we progress through the CDs.....WONDERFUL!

(forward to a few months later after delving into the books.....)

This book has been a wonderful resource for the whole family. We have listened to it in the van while on road trips and vacations. Written in a language even 4th graders can underst
...more
Shane Perry
Wow. A lot of Conservatives sure do hate this book. Unfortunately, that's not the reason I picked it up. I've already been interested in American History and Presidential trivia, so a book claiming to know things I didn't was too intriguing to pass up. I think Davis' process works for about 75% of this book. Particularly the presidents you may not remember or know as much about, this book shines with a great breadth of info. I really like the way each chapter is split up, particularly how Davis ...more
Shelli
Feb 18, 2015 Shelli rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Final Judgment: Stars 3 / *U for uncompleted

While filled with interesting well known (and some lesser known) facts about the Executive and Chief, the author inserted too much of his own opinion into the material. Often times trivializing or barely mentioning, key “milestones” in a president’s life to fit his “grade.” Example: A+ four term leader Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not losing any % points due to his wrongful interment of 110,000-120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Don’t get
...more
Danny Marcalo
Mar 09, 2015 Danny Marcalo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This actually works. Each president is only discussed in no more than 8-10 pages. Still, it makes for some interesting reading, as Davis writes in an engaging, not at all historical, as in History as a scholarly subject, style. There are a few dents in his writing as he tends to repeat phrases, sometimes on the same page. Do I agree with his assessments of the Presidents. To be honest, I don't know much, if anything, about most of the commanders-in-chief, especially of the 19th century. Some of ...more
Konrad
A generic but helpful president history book that was useful to give me a quick look at all the presidents before I look at individual biographies. I enjoyed the timelines and question-answer style writing.
Sarah
My first audio book. I have always shied away from listening to a book on tape. Guess I feel as though I am cheating. However, I have been craving learning lately and my reading can't keep up with my desire to gain knowledge. Additionally, this book is rather voluminous so I thought it might be a good one to begin with. I did learn an awful lot although I would have liked to have a paper copy with me as I listened because there were so many things I wanted to remember. Davis gives each president ...more
Dayna Kidle
Jul 03, 2014 Dayna Kidle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received Don't Know Much About the American Presidents through a Goodreads Giveaway!

I won a prize pack of the whole collection of these books and was so excited! I love history and couldn't want to dive in. The first book I picked up to read was this one about the American presidents. This is a heavy book and not for the light reader! Although I suggest picking it up and reading a bit every day. I felt like I learned so much about the presidents. There are so many interesting facts and footnot
...more
Kendra
Aug 24, 2014 Kendra rated it really liked it
This is a great book to either read straight through, or to pick up for short periods of reading. The author describes each president in several pages, including facts about his birth, family circumstances, current events, highlights and low points in his presidency, and gives each one a final "grade" as the country's leader. The evaluations seem to be fairly objective, and not terribly biased from any political perspective. This is one that I will keep on my shelves & I'm sure I'll dip back ...more
KJ
Aug 24, 2014 KJ rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I 'read' it via audio book and I'm not sure if it would have been as interesting if I read it the traditional way. It was perfect for an audio book as it was little blurbs about the different presidents, the times they lived in, what occurred during their administration, etc. There were so many little things I didn't know about our presidents. And Teddy Roosevelt talking about the willfully ignorant masses of America was so funny I had to rewind it multiple times and ...more
Terry
It was particularly enjoyable for me to red this book during the presidential election season. Not only is it full of fun and quirky facts about American presidents, it tells of events that happened in United States history that are relevant in today's political climate. Since all the presidents are covered in 5-10 pages, there is not much detail. There is a bibliography included in each biography (including websites) that lead the reader to more information about each president. Fascinating.
Prospero
Aug 24, 2014 Prospero rated it really liked it
Even at 750+ pages, each of the 44 US presidents doesn't get much more than a Wikipedia article's worth of ink...and that's to be expected. This is a mere survey, after all, but one told in the entertaining fashion that Davis honed in earlier titles in his "Don't Know Much" series. I enjoyed it greatly.
Harry Hemstreet
Aug 24, 2014 Harry Hemstreet rated it liked it
A really long book (752 pages) and only worthwhile to a dedicated history buff. At various times I considered giving it up, but overall it kept me interested. Problem is there were very few interesting/ exciting presidents. I have lived through 13 of the 44, so 30% of all presidents to date. Have voted in 10 presidential elections (just under 25%), and remember all but FDR.
Jess
Aug 24, 2014 Jess rated it it was amazing
Shelves: presidents
This is a great book for history buffs, even for those who consider themselves very well educated on presidential knowledge. (Like myself) It follows Davis’ usual question and answer style format if you have read any of his books before. A great look back at the presidential administrations of the past and how they shaped our country’s past and future.
Sam Motes
Dec 23, 2015 Sam Motes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A nice collection of mini biographies that put the session of presidents in context of the times and events against which they served. Definitely not exhaustive on each but certainly enough to whet the appetite for further readings.
Stellaluna
I pretty much read this entire book minus the boring parts which I skimmed through. Turns out pretty much every president has been a jerk somehow in some way (racist/sexist/jingoist) except for maybe Obama ;p
It's surprisingly war-centered.
Lorettab
Feb 23, 2015 Lorettab rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kenneth Davis has once again given us a very enjoyable and educational book.
He inspires his readers to dig deeper into subjects and enjoy learning.
I had the audio book from my local library. The first disc included a pdf file with a lot of additional interesting material.
Beth Olson shultz
Sep 11, 2014 Beth Olson shultz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting book. The don't know much about series is so good and this book is the best yet. I thought I wouldn't be surprised about any of the presidents, but there were some items I did not know about. Good read!
Brinkley
Oct 17, 2015 Brinkley rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I really like the way Davis organizes and presents his work. I have read his other books on U.S. History, the Civil War, world religions, and literature. I would like to see him tackle world history, specifically World War One and Two.
Melissa
I bought this for my son (10) to learn about the Presidents for his academic games at school. This book is an incredible source of unbiased information regarding each President, his history as well as the timeline of events that occurred while each President was in office. A great book.
Chris
Dec 19, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The grades feel arbitrary at times, but there is really not a specific ranking system. I would have liked to see more about why a certain ranking was chosen in each case.

It was a very good review, and especially useful for the more obscure of the bunch.
Jacqueline
A rather boring book with some interesting facts thrown in for flavor. I listened to this on audio book and it really suffered from the too many narrators syndrome. Half the time I wasn't sure who was talking when and the different voices would jolt me out of my enjoyment of the book.
Tracey Axnick
Apr 09, 2015 Tracey Axnick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this. Didn't agree with many of the "ratings" but of course that is subjective.
Found out a lot of interesting trivia, and the Presidents "came alive" as individuals throughout the book.
Stefan
Aug 24, 2014 Stefan rated it really liked it
Pretty good, out of 750 pages, only a couple of mistakes here and there, but overall this book is informative for anyone who wants to know about the Presidents, and the issues of the day they faced.
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Kenneth C. Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of the Don't Know Much About series of books and audios for adults and children. The first title in the series, Don't Know Much About History became a New York Times bestseller in 1991 and remained on the paperback list for 35 consecutive weeks. It has since been revised several times and now has more than 1.6 million copies in print.

He is
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