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Two Miserable Presidents: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the Civil War
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Two Miserable Presidents: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the Civil War

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  405 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews


That Congressman, Preston Brooks, was ready to attack Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts over remarks Sumner made slamming senators who supported slavery in Kansas. Brooks lifted his cane to beat Sumner, and here the action in the book stops, so that Steve Shei

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 22nd 2008 by Roaring Brook Press (first published 2008)
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Deborah Markus
Oct 08, 2014 Deborah Markus rated it really liked it
Once upon a time, there was a stupid smart girl. That is, she did really well on all those "How Smart Are You?" tests; but she often had trouble in school, because she couldn't learn anything unless she was genuinely interested in it.

Eventually, she dropped out and wandered around until she signed with a literary agent, because it turns out that learning about stuff you're really interested in can be a paying proposition if you promise to write a book about it afterwards.

But she felt a little d
History was never my strongest curriculum area. It was just list after list of names, places, and dates that tended to jumble together as the lists grew. Nothing was ever "alive" enough for me to gain an actual understanding of the events--what happened, who was involved, and, most importantly, why things happened.

Steve Sheinkin has changed that, first with King George: What Was His Problem? and now with Two Miserable Presidents. Combining historical fact with little-known anecdotes, quotes fro
Margo Tanenbaum
Jul 12, 2010 Margo Tanenbaum rated it it was amazing
"History--with the good bits put back!"

The author's website describes these books as "guaranteed-never-boring history books, packed with all the true stories and real quotes he was never allowed to use during his career as a textbook writer."

Despite the comical look of the series, Sheinkin includes a serious historical overview of the war, which highlights all the key events leading up to the war, from the Fugitive Slave Act to John Brown, the Dred Scott decision, and the Lincoln-Douglas debate
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Dec 27, 2008 Roxanne Hsu Feldman rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this treatment of The American Civil War. Along the way, I couldn't help exclaiming aloud how stupid and how senseless some of the battles were. The book makes all the generals and the two presidents, especially Lincoln, seem completely incompetent. I wonder if there hasn't been quite a bias here: in order to "entertain" the young readers, the book is slanted heavily toward magnifying the aspects that are ludicrous about the War. It might be true that all wars are senseless ...more
Feb 05, 2017 Beth rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
It's really clear here that Sheinkin was a textbook writer - not that this is dry, but that it is written in an almost dispassionate, just-the-facts way. And I'd take issue with the "Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You" subtitle. Nothing here is new to me - but it is presented in a coherent, comprehensive way. It's not especially deep, but it does touch on almost every event. That's what's most impressive.
Mar 24, 2017 Joseph rated it really liked it
It is a good book.
Elyse  Quiroz
Dec 02, 2016 Elyse Quiroz rated it really liked it
This book was absolutely amazing with its fun facts about the Civil War! The genre of this book is historical fiction (obviously). *SPOILER ALERT* The book begins before the Civil War with the Preston Brooks almost beginning to hit Charles Summer. Why? Well Charles Summer was the man who did rip the country apart with the Civil War. The book gives a thirteen step guide to how tear the country apart. Step one: Plant cotton. This step shows how Eli Whitney had his big chance to met Catherine Gree ...more
Jun 23, 2011 Jan rated it it was amazing
The author used to write textbooks, and was frustrated by the dry style of writing that he was required to use. So he saved all the unusual, funny, amazing, and surprising stories and quotes that he couldn't use in textbooks, and wrote his own highly readable book about the Civil War.

The two presidents were Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, who was the president of the Confederate States. But the stories aren't so much about them as they are about the men, boys, and even a few women who fou
Xavier Baez
Dec 01, 2016 Xavier Baez rated it really liked it
I Have start with Two Miserable Presidents and it is very ingesting book It talks about How the country have rip apart and Tell how they have broke apart that is how far I am so far but I want you to check this out in the liberty if you want it talks about how the civil war as start.and Spoiler alert That two Presidents that are Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas are the two Miserable presidents.and I want you to check this book out at the Liberty so you can get to the questions and more and I ...more
Dec 29, 2012 Scott added it
Shelves: skygirl
The doctor checked this out for SkyGirl because she got Battle Cry, a Civil War board game, for Christmas. She, SkyGirl, wanted to know more about the Civil War. I started reading it and it was great. For a quick review of all the important battles and events around the Civil War. And it's humorous, clever and well-written.
Dec 16, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a much easier and fun way to learn about the Civil War than just reading a boring, old, textbook. READ IT!
Jun 01, 2016 Stacey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
This book was fantastic!
Margaret Boling
Jun 27, 2013 Margaret Boling rated it it was amazing
6/27/13: Excellent! Completely changed the way I picture the Civil War. Made the hunger, foul food, and diversity of representation much more real to me.
Lawrence Jia
Two Miserable presidents is definitely one of the most entertaining history books I have ever read. I usually don’t enjoy reading long history books because they often contain pieces of info that are most certainly relevant however are extremely boring and doesn’t make me want to remember it and I usually forget. However this book changed that perspective. There were so many little details such as what a person’s nickname was and the funny backstory behind it or the funny pictures that portrayed ...more
May 29, 2017 Becky rated it really liked it
I am an unabashed Sheinkin fan. His books are just so readable and enjoyable. "Two Miserable Presidents" is a history of the Civil War told in small, interesting, personal vignettes while simultaneously explaining the battles and politics involved as well.

One of my favorite touches is the final section, 'Whatever happened to?'
Drew Martin
Aug 28, 2016 Drew Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The two presidents are Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee. Robert Lee seemed liked kind of a nice man, who was very serious and didn't want his soldiers messing around. He was very devoted to the South. Some Generals were fighting to keep slavery, and some generals were fighting to leave the united states. I think Lee was more interested in leaving the United States than he was in keeping slavery. Lee like to be directly involved and in charge. Lincoln was kind of both anti-slavery and also tryin ...more
Jan 19, 2017 Josie rated it liked it
"Two Miserable Presidents" is a very interesting take on a history book. As the title states, it strives to provide "everything your schoolbooks didn't tell you about the Civil War," and I believe it did accomplish that.

Let's get into the book.

I'm not one who loves to read textbooks, hence why the idea of this book interested me. I wouldn't say that I loved this book, but I certainly believed it was much better than having to read the average textbook. What textbooks fail to do (in my personal
Nov 15, 2016 Preston rated it really liked it
There are many good books available which give an overall view of the Civil War. This book takes a different approach by showing us the war through the lives of individual people.

Many of the events were new to me, such as the women's revolts in Atlanta and Richmond. Food was extremely scarce. Merchants demanded exorbitant prices and families were starving. Southern women with knives and axes marched through the streets demanding fair prices from the merchants. If they felt the prices were unfai
Feb 06, 2009 Smaileh rated it really liked it
In a forward to this book, the author explains that he once wrote textbooks and he knows why they are so boring--they leave all the good stuff out! As far as quotes go, they avoid any "that are at all funny, amazing, surprising, disgusting, confusing, stupid, mean, or anything else interesting." So in this book, he puts in all the stuff that textbooks leave out.

The two miserable presidents of the title are, of course, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, but the book includes many more people th
Jul 13, 2008 Princess rated it it was amazing
I liked the first book, about the Revolutionary War, better than this one but I think it's because the Civil War is just that much more complex. I love all the quotes and how he organized his source materials so that the audience this book is intended for (juvenile readers) can understand how much research is involved and can find additional materials if they are interested.
I did learn quite a bit from this book. I have vague memories of studying the Civil War and more recent ones of the romant
Cedrik Vb
Dec 09, 2015 Cedrik Vb rated it it was amazing
Two miserable presidents

The book Two miserable presidents tells the “unknown” part of the civil war unknown being the part that isn't known by many american kids
because the textbooks don't tell those things. This book has a lot of information from 1848 to 1865 for example,South Carolina's Senator Preston Brooks beat Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the senate with a cane in 1856 because of Sumner's speech about slavery and how a bunch of shoes led to a famous battle in Pen
Aug 22, 2012 Bonnie rated it really liked it
I'm ashamed to say this but before I read this book I couldn't even tell you what year the Civil War happened. I don't know if it's because it's been since high school since I even thought about it or if it just went in one ear and out the other. I don't know what made me pick up this book in the children's section of the library but I'm glad I did. I read the intro and the guy just made it sound so interesting. And it was. I knew throughout the book I should be cheering for the Union but he doe ...more
Julie Jesernik
Dec 16, 2016 Julie Jesernik rated it it was amazing
“War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.” – William T. Sherman
Apr 24, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it
This was a fun overview of the Civil War written for kids --- I'd say middle school age. It includes quotations and crazy stories you probably didn't learn about in school. One of my favorites is about a Union general who went up in a hot-air balloon to spy on the Confederate camp, but the tether broke and he didn't know how to control the balloon. So there he was, floating back and forth over the two camps, too high for the Confederate guns to reach him and with no way of getting down! He decid ...more
Jun 28, 2013 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Benedict Arnold was checked out, so I got this instead. This is a GREAT little YA explanation of the Civil War. Many adults would understand the causes and motivations of the Civil War in a nutshell by reading this great book. I am really digging this author.

Loved it. I would love for tons of my students to read this. Our library must order this if they don't have it. I am going to have to become a Sheinkin fanboy I think.

Random fun fact: Jefferson Davis' widow and Ulysses Grant's widow both en
Marco Magardichian
Dec 13, 2012 Marco Magardichian rated it really liked it
I chose to read this book because I already read a book by this author and I enjoyed. The plot of this story is how the civil war started by an invention called the cotton gin. My favorite quote "When the white man governs himself, that is self-government:but when he governs himself, and also governs another man, that is more than self-government- that is despotism." This quotes tells me how much he cared for people by saying this quote. The way Steve Sheinkin writes makes me more like i'm in th ...more
Sep 15, 2012 Adele rated it it was amazing

After reading this brief history of the Civil War, I am just about convinced that the only president ever to be reviled, hated, and treated with as much disdain as our current president was Abraham Lincoln. He was a president in impossible circumstances, trying to unite a people divided by slavery, distrust for a strong federal government, impatience for success, and unexpected downturns in their economic well-being. Things were hard for President Lincoln, but his stirring oratorical skills were
Jul 28, 2011 Kelli rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, civil-war
I loved this book. I wish history books were this interesting when I was in school. t includes many personal anecdotes about both famous people and ordinary soldiers and people living through those difficult times. This book made me want to become a Civil War buff. Its 246 pages and the Lexile reading level is only 920. You can get your kids to read this with you while they are still young enough to have a natural interest in history. This means before the boring textbooks make them believe they ...more
Dec 14, 2016 Jordan rated it really liked it
Great educational book that makes American history more vivid and meaningful. Funny, grabbing, and educational without even realizing it. Sheinkin, my maaan
A relatively quick overview of the Civil War. The biggest strength: meshing all the basic battle and political information with interesting tidbits on ordinary folks and lesser-known stories. The biggest weakness: the cartoony illustrations were cool, but didn't always distinguish the people they were supposed to depict.

Anything that makes history fun is a win in my book, and this certainly does that. Would recommend for anyone interested in history, the Civil War, battles and adventure, or pol
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