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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

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4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  344 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
May 22, 1856: A MEMBER OF CONGRESS FROM SOUTH CAROLINA WALKS INTO THE SENATE CHAMBER, LOOKING FOR TROUBLE.

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 Sheinki
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 22nd 2008 by Roaring Brook Press (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Deborah Markus
May 06, 2015 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
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babyhippoface
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
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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
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Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Dec 29, 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
Cedrik Vb
Jan 01, 2016 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
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Jan
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
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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
Stacey
Jun 01, 2016 Stacey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
This book was fantastic!
Scott
Mar 04, 2013 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.
Margaret
Jul 03, 2013 Margaret 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.
Jessica
Feb 01, 2013 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!
Jonathan
Oct 03, 2015 Jonathan rated it really liked it
I think that every school in the country should just buy Sheinkin's books and use them instead of textbooks. They are so faced paced, informative, interesting and flat out entertaining. Knowing a lot about the Civil War going into this book, I can't think of anything of importance that Sheinkin left out. Put this book in the hands of a 12 year old and they will know all that is needed to understand this event in American history. Again, I will continue to rant and rave about how this man is chan ...more
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
Smaileh
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
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Princess
Sep 12, 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
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Lauran Burnham
Sep 23, 2016 Lauran Burnham rated it it was amazing
This has been one of the best informational books that I have read from a middle school library ever! The author gave a great overview and made it more personable by allowing the reader to see the people who fought the war as well as a few strictly-the-facts statements. What topped it all off, he has also included a great bibliography and suggested reading section at the end if you wish to learn more about some of those individuals in the bloody story of the American Civil War!
Bonnie
Aug 31, 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
Zara
Excellent introduction to the Civil War, covers all the important bits. I found the very narrative style slightly offputting as every time I read the direct speech in records of conversations, I wondered how much they were based on fact. But this might be a bit unfair as it is intended as an introduction for school children.
Jason Massouh
Jan 03, 2016 Jason Massouh rated it liked it
This was a really informative book that I learned a lot from, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked to because I'm not really into Government and Wars. Although it didn't suit my taste, I was taught about different times in the United States where specific people's personalities changed throughout war.
Amy
May 03, 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
Carol
Aug 28, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it
This book does a great job discussing, in a balanced way, the complexities of the war in an age-appropriate manner. It's serious and meaty without being dull and includes really interesting asides and quotes from people, famous and not-so-famous alike.
B
Nov 29, 2015 B rated it really liked it
Shelves: j-nonfiction
Enjoyable and informative nonfiction about the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, and Jefferson Davis. I prefer Steve Sheinkin's newer books because I enjoy the photography better than the cartoon illustrations in this one.
Shaundell
Feb 17, 2015 Shaundell rated it it was amazing
Steve Sheinkin is a fabulous author and is one of my favorites. He has a way of writing that is serious and humorous all combined together. This book tells of little unknown stories about the Civil War.
Abby
May 12, 2016 Abby rated it really liked it
A great source for a middle school classroom that does not want to use a textbook to teach a unit on the Civil War. Great facts here, although the author's bias does shine through at some parts.
Nikki Boisture
Jul 12, 2016 Nikki Boisture rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent history book I read with the kids. Recommend it to any parent with a kid who is interested in history (or has a kid you WANT interested in history).
Amy-Karen
Jun 25, 2015 Amy-Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Tremendously interesting book about the Civil War. I look forward to reading his other books. (Just saw him on a television documentary about the Civil War, as well.)
Brad Feld
Dec 25, 2014 Brad Feld rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I originally saw this at my partner Ryan McIntyre’s house a few months ago when we were over for dinner. I Kindled it and dove it. I loved it – super easy to consume and a very playful way to learn, or relearn, some history. I’m planning at least one serious Lincoln biography in 2015 so this was a good way to get a taste of it.
Naomi Simon
Apr 01, 2014 Naomi Simon rated it it was amazing
I like Steve Sheinkin's books, he makes history fun. I never knew just what the "compromise" was in the Missouri Compromise, but Steve explains things in a way that is interesting and memorable.
Patrick
Jun 29, 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
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Adele
Sep 16, 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
...more
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