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What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House
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What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  80 ratings  ·  19 reviews
From Cicero to Snooki, the cultural influences on our American presidents are powerful and plentiful. Thomas Jefferson famously said "I cannot live without books," and his library backed up the claim, later becoming the backbone of the new Library of Congress. Jimmy Carter watched hundreds of movies in his White House, while Ronald Reagan starred in a few in his own time. ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 2nd 2013 by Regnery History (first published January 1st 2013)
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The cover indicated a longitudinal, conversational ramble through the intellectual habits of our presidents, but what it actually delivers is Lite beer trivia. Tevi Troy runs through some passable history concerning the cultural habits of our commanders in chief, and yes, there's quite a bit here I didn't know. For example, I enjoyed his account of Eisenhower's Western-reading habits, and I wish the Lincoln chapter had gone on for twenty more pages, exploring Abe's take on the plays of Shakespea ...more
The Founders viewed reading not merely as entertainment but as a path to wisdom, virtue, and toward a just society.

The English visitor (Frances Trollope, mother of Anthony Trollope) found American displays of patriotism particularly painful, complaining that “when a patriotic fit seized them, and ‘Yankee Doodle’ was called for, every man seemed to think his reputation as a citizen depended on the noise he made.”

His (Theodore Roosevelt) tutor Arthur Hamilton Cutler noted that “[t]he youn
Steve Gross
Amusing but uneven book about culture and the Presidents. I mostly enjoyed learning what the various Presidents read. One jarring note was bad production design - about every other page had a cutout box repeating some of the text on that page. They probably could have reduced the book by a sixth by removing them.
Meh. I did like this book, and I do think it met its stated objectives (what popular culture presidents have enjoyed through the years, how they were affected by those, and how they were depicted by popular culture). I learned some new and interesting facts. There are a lot great quotes about the importance of books and reading here (Lincoln loved Saint Thomas Aquinas's "I fear the man of a single book."). But . . . but . . . while pleasant, this book seemed incomplete somehow, and I'm at a bit ...more
Feb 18, 2014 Anna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Anna by: michael medved, john batchelor
Shelves: nonfiction-other
This is such an informative and fun read!
In addition to the presidential trivia about the books read, plays attended, movies watched, and later, radio then television programs enjoyed, Troy makes the point that popular culture in all its forms has always had a profound influence on the Presidency in particular. I was taught that popular culture greatly started to influence politics and the Presidency in the mid-20th century, especially the Kennedy administration.
Troy argues that the most success
Kevin Sheives
This, in the end, read a little bit like a textbook. The topic was interesting, but the book was far too systematized and chronological for my taste. Even the layout was textbook-like with text boxes. Having said that, the content and research was impressive. I especially loved learning about the reason. Habits of presidents, but I thought the author's treatment of Obama was a little too imbalanced and focused on his own perceptions of Obama's pop culture origins. I was left wanting more on how ...more
This was really interesting, for the most part. I learned things I hadn't known about past presidents (JFK, despite having an intellectual reputation, did not like to read), and was surprised about things about past presidents (Dubya was a big reader).

Also, I was bored to tears by things about past presidents.

Kind of a hit-or-miss book. Some parts are more interesting than others. But enjoyable enough.
“What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 years of Popular Culture in the White House,” is a collision of everything I love: pop culture and presidents. It provides a great understanding of how pop culture can shape the relationship between the people and their presidents. Good or bad some presidents determined their persona (Kennedy and intellectuals) in pop culture while others let pop culture define them (Ford and Chevy Chase). This book is engaging and makes you want to read ...more
JP White
Overall an interesting read but I was definitely able to put it down. Full of interesting anecdotes but was written like a drawn out magazine article. Even the layout of the pages included excerpts from the book itself, almost as if to fill space.
Bradley America
Starts out fairly nonpartisan, paints republicans in a more favorable light halfway through, starts laying into Democrats from Kennedy on. The final chapter is pretty much a list of reasons why Troy thinks Obama is awful, written in the Fox News Echo Chamber.
The subject matter sounded fascinating (more with what the early presidents read than anything else) but the book was quite dull.
Very interesting perspective on how the times effect the presidency. I remember watching The West Wing back when it was on TV and the characters telling President Bartlett that he came off as too smart, too educated for the people to identify with. This book seems to prove what Sorkin asserted in that episode. The Founding Fathers were very well-read. They took pride in being educated and in their knowledge of an array of topics. Now it seems more important to know tv, movie, and pop music refer ...more
Very cool. Very interesting--particularly the discussions on reading.
This book looks at the way popular culture and the American presidency have interacted over the last two centuries. The parts detailing the reading habits of various presidents were especially interesting, as well as the stories from the White House movie theater. The only complaint I have with the book is that the author’s personal political views come out a bit too much in the final chapter on President Obama. Up to that final chapter, this is a very informative read on a particular facet of ...more
An interesting discussion about the reading habits of the presidents and how they understand what happens in American and around the world through their consumption of books and other media.
This is a fun read and very informative for a guy who has spend most of his life ignoring non fiction. Troy's research reveals the effect of pop culture on the presidency. Lots of great quotes and insights that tell you which presidents were avid readers all the way to the present and how the internet and social media have changed the presidency and the electorate.
Wesley Roth
I love presidential history, so this book by Tevi Troy caught my eye. Overall, it was a fun and quick read, but I knew most of the stories and habits of the presidents when it came to books, theatre, TV and now social media. This would be a great book for a high school or college student.
Jim Blessing
I had trouble completing my read of this book, as it was not particularly interesting.
Jack Sussek
Good read, interesting take on Presidents and their cultural tastes. Recommend for history and media buffs.
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