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Warren G. Harding (The American Presidents #29)

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  299 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
President Nixon's former counsel illuminates another presidency marked by scandal

Warren G. Harding may be best known as America's worst president. Scandals plagued him: the Teapot Dome affair, corruption in the Veterans Bureau and the Justice Department, and the posthumous revelation of an extramarital affair.

Raised in Marion, Ohio, Harding took hold of the small town's ne
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Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 7th 2004 by Times Books (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Joe
Jul 27, 2015 Joe rated it liked it
Book Forty-One of my Presidential Challenge.

I waffled back and forth on what to rate this one. Clearly, John Dean was on a mission here to clear Harding's name. This is an understandable impulse. Harding is regularly trashed in history as one of the worst (if not the worst) President of all time. The way Dean sees it, Harding is a victim of scandals from his administration and his personal documents being unavailable for many years following his death. Dean makes a case that Harding was much bel
...more
David Nichols
Sep 21, 2014 David Nichols rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, biography
A revisionist biography of a much-maligned president, written by a White House insider from another failed presidency. Dean is what one might call a Harding buff; he grew up in Harding's hometown of Marion and owns a number of biographies and dissertations on Warren G., which he uses to dispel several durable myths about the 29th president. Among them: Harding was a drunk (stomach troubles limited him to one drink a day); Harding fathered an illegitimate child with Nan Britton while he was presi ...more
James
Nov 04, 2011 James rated it liked it
Shelves: history-project
For my next assignment I decided to read consecutively the Times series biographies of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, treating them as one continuous Republican administration.

Up first is Warren Harding, longtime favorite of my father, who is a fan presidential history, because of all of the juicy tales of corruption and intrigue around his death. That is until he read this book.

Many of the authors in this series are fans or apologists for their subjects, as is the case with John Dean. And I smi
...more
Mark
Jun 20, 2015 Mark rated it it was ok
Shelves: croah
In this book John Dean has come not to bury Warren G. Harding but to praise him as an underrated president unfairly judged by posterity. To that end, he marshals the available evidence to depict Harding as a canny businessman and conscientious president who does not deserve to be judged by the criminality of his subordinates. Dean makes some good points, but his argument is weaker for his unwillingness to treat the corruption that plagued Harding's administration as reflective of failings on Har ...more
Christopher Litsinger
This was an "I'd like to set the record straight" biography, and mostly annoyingly so. Only at the conclusion, as Dean is explaining why history's view of Harding has been so bad (members of his cabinet uncovered for corruption after his death, and a belief that all his papers had been destroyed, leaving people free to write speculative and false accounts of his life and presidency), and why this book differed (because his papers had not actually been destroyed, and the society holding them fina ...more
Jennifer Nelson
It’s been a couple of weeks since I finished this book and can’t really say that I remember anything notable about it. It read smoothly enough and it wasn’t terribly dull, but seemed to be just another ho-hum presidential book. Warren Harding is not an impressive character and his presidency was even less so. The author tries to make an argument for his presidency being more amazing than Harding is normally given credit for, but I wasn’t terribly convinced. I guess there were a lot of lies sprea ...more
Shawn Thrasher
May 22, 2012 Shawn Thrasher rated it liked it
Time does heal everything. Take heart past and future presidents - if Warren Harding can be rehabilitated, then so can you! John Dean does a pretty good job of making Mr. Harding seem more upstanding and less of a louse. His scandalous term in office were mostly tempests in a teapot (dome) that weren't his fault. He's been given a bum rap on most fronts. Dean's Harding really reads like the first truly modern Republican president- anti-spending, low tax, fiscally conservative businessman. He spo ...more
Scott Cox
Jan 18, 2016 Scott Cox rated it really liked it
“Warren G. Harding” by John Dean ????
Biographer John Dean (Richard Nixon’s former counsel) notes, "Harding's history was mostly written sans historians." Dean comes from the same Ohio town as Harding, and had grown up hearing many of the stories and myths surrounding what some consider to be “America’s worst president.” Known for the infamous Teapot Dome scandal (superseded only by Watergate), many only know the darker side to Harding’s career. Dean attempts to “rehabilitate” Harding’s image by
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Mark
Jun 20, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it
When I saw that John Dean had been tapped for Warren Harding's chapter of the American Presidents Series, I was certain that it was because his association with the Watergate scandal would give him insight into the scandal-plagued Harding administration. It turns out that John Dean grew up in Harding's home town of Marion, Ohio and as a consequence has had a lifelong interest in the subject.

Dean presents a very strong case that President Harding was not among the most incompetent Presidents; how
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Steve
Sep 28, 2015 Steve rated it liked it
http://bestpresidentialbios.com/2015/...

“Warren G. Harding” by John W. Dean was published in 2004 and is a member of The American Presidents series. Dean is an author, columnist and political commentator. Among his nearly dozen books are “Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush” and “The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It.”

Dean served as White House Counsel for Richard Nixon between July 1970 and April 1973. In connection with his role in the Watergate scandal,
...more
The other John
May 30, 2015 The other John rated it liked it
I don't have much to say about this biography, one of The American Presidents series. Harding has long been a contender for the title of Worst American President. The Teapot Dome scandal which surfaced after his death, the suppression of his personal papers, as well as a tell-all book accusing him of fathering a child with a mistress contributed to an image of Harding as a charismatic puppet, controlled by political cronies. Mr. Dean, after actually studying Harding's writings and career, begs t ...more
M.T. Bass
Jul 19, 2014 M.T. Bass rated it liked it
I knew practically nothing about Warren G. Harding and this book filled that gap, providing what seems to be a fair representation of the man and his Presidency, especially in light of his poor reputation.

In undertaking a reassessment and rehabilitation of Harding's image, Dean also gave me pause to remember Napoleon's & Churchill's admonitions about who writes "history" and to always take what I think I know from what I had been taught in school with a grain of salt.

I like the American Pres
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Jose
Apr 14, 2016 Jose rated it liked it
Along with the Abraham Lincoln book, I liked this one a lot better than some of the other books I have read in the series. . Most biographies I have read about the American presidents fail to provide details on their personal lives, this was not one of those books. It provided plenty of details of his relationship with his wife Florence, although I wish it would have further looked into some of his extramarital affairs. It provided a good look into his rise through the ranks and his struggle to ...more
Candi Berry
Feb 08, 2016 Candi Berry rated it really liked it
It has been an interesting journey reading about each president so far, I'm over halfway through my goal. I'm learning of the human side of men who did what they considered their best to serve our country. The below poem was read at Warren Harding's memorial by his Secretary of State, Chris Evans Hughes. I thought it was beautiful and fitting for this often forgotten president.

"Let who has felt compute the strain Of struggle with abuses strong, The doubtful course, the helpless pain Of seeing b
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Raymond
May 13, 2009 Raymond rated it liked it
This is the most recent biography of Warren G. Harding (2004). Much was made of the fact that John Dean, "President Nixon's former counsel, illuminates another presidency marred by scandal." Additionally, John Dean grew up in Warren Harding's home town, Marion, Ohio. "Early morning after early morning I used to bicycle down Marion's tree-lined Mount Vernon Avenue on my paper route, past the home of the former president…"
Dean's effort is one in a series - The American President Series - of whi
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Steven Peterson
Aug 08, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it
Interesting factors. John Dean (of Watergate note) authors this biography of Warren G. Harding in The American Presidents series. And he grew up in Marion, Ohio, where Harding lived for many years. And, against all odds, Dean makes Harding seem much less the failure that he has been branded over time. Does the author succeed fully? Each reader will have to judge for himself or herself, but I did come away from this book with a different impression of Harding than the one I brought with me as I s ...more
Andy Miller
Mar 27, 2012 Andy Miller rated it really liked it
This biography by John Dean argues that Warren Harding was a much better President than his historical reputation. It begins with his largely successful argument that Harding was not simply an accidental President chosen by party bosses as a compromise candidate during the 1920 Republican convention. Dean shows that Harding was a popular well liked Senator who refrained from negative attacks on any of the Republican candidates knowing that while he had to show strength to be in contention and to ...more
Kevin Kizer
Harding normally is disregarded by many presidential historians, if not vilified for the Teapot Dome scandal (which came to light after his death and he played no part in). In actuality, he was an intelligent, thoughtful leader who faced many tough challenges after Wilson and WWI. Sort of reminiscent of our current president -- he faced massive unemployment, an economy in ruins and a harshly divided country. He started turning things around, showing a level hand when dealing with businesses and ...more
Stewart
Jun 15, 2010 Stewart rated it really liked it
John Dean of Watergate fame was interviewed on C-SPAN2 for three hours a few weeks ago, and I watched every minute because Dean's comments were so interesting. During the program, Dean mentioned that he grew up in Marion, Ohio, where Warren G. Harding also grew up, and he had written a short biography of that president in 2004. I found the book in the main Oakland public library.
Dean makes a persuasive case that Harding was a much better president than popular sentiment has made him. There has
...more
Lee
Interesting that this book on Warren Harding who had one of the most scandal ridden Presidencies was writing by John Dean of the Nixon Administration. A good overview of Harding’s life which sets to bed many of the myths of his administration. I did not know until reading this that the Teapot Dome scandal did not erupt until after Harding’s death. It also shows that much of the corruption while it may have had to do with Harding’s lax oversight or in the case of the Teapot Dome appointing a croo ...more
Jerry-Book
Dean, who survived Nixon's scandalous presidency, attempts to rehab another President who was afflicted by scandal. Harding and Buchanan usually are considered are worse two presidents. Dean does not uncover anything new about Harding. He does note Harding attempted to reverse Wilson's bad record on Black federal appointments. He exaggerates in claiming Harding appointed history's best cabinet. Perhaps, because Harding's complete papers have not been released, Dean has to rely upon secondary sou ...more
Randy Elster
Jul 17, 2016 Randy Elster rated it really liked it
Surprising bio of a low-ranked former president. Nixon White House counsel John Dean sets the record straight on Harding, who you might best know from learning about the Teapot Dome scandal in your high school history class. Dean uses Harding's personal papers, thought destroyed by his wife, to show that Harding was a man who deserved a better legacy.
Tom
May 27, 2015 Tom rated it really liked it
Did not know a thing about Harding before reading this. He gets a bum rap. Sure he had some flaws like poor choice(s) for cabinet member and listening to advice from the wrong people but his heart was in the right place and he diligently tried to do the right thing. Bit of trivia . . . he was the first President to set foot on Alaskan soil! Deserves much more credit than he gets.
Kevin Moore
Jun 12, 2016 Kevin Moore rated it really liked it
I got to enjoy a visit to President Harding's home today. Between the museum and this book, I learned a great deal about a largely overlooked president who is more interesting than I had previously thought.
David
Oct 16, 2007 David rated it liked it
Dean makes a reasonable case that Harding's presidency was an effective one, overshadowed by the felonious doings of his appointees Albert Fall and Harry Daugherty. Harding's papers languished in storage for decades, and thus historians have underrated Harding's accomplishments, among them a groundbreaking disarmament conference, the establishment of the Bureau of the Budget, and the pardoning of Eugene V. Debs. Readers looking for a history of the corruption in Harding's cabinet will be disappo ...more
Petero
Jun 08, 2012 Petero rated it it was amazing
Shelves: presidents
Well written. (Naturally, it has its merit of being written by one of the key players in the Watergate scandal.)
Having just read a biography of Woodrow Wilson, I find it interesting the difference in general perception.
Wilson is seen as a hero or at least a visionary by many and Harding is seen as one of the worst presidents.
I can only give Wilson credit for the League of Nations; everything else he did was a disappointment.
Harding, on the other hand, at least tried. He had good intentions in te
...more
Fred Kohn
I wish this book had been longer! I didn't know much about this much maligned president before reading this book, and now I want to know more. Maybe he really isn't as bad as history remembers him.
Chris Queen
Sep 17, 2016 Chris Queen rated it it was amazing
This book does a wonderful job of setting the record straight about one of our most misunderstood presidents...and succinctly!
Alicia Joy
Oct 25, 2014 Alicia Joy rated it it was amazing
I think this was an excellently written book that addresses a serious problem about Harding's supposed history...a problem that I think will repeat itself until we can re-harness the media.
Joe Chapman
Feb 18, 2015 Joe Chapman rated it really liked it
Shelves: presidents
This was the perfect book for me to learn a little bit about President Harding. I would have preferred more detail about the "Teapot Dome" scandal but otherwise it was an interesting read.
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John W. Dean served as White House Counsel for United States President Richard Nixon from July 1970 until April 1973. In this position, he became deeply involved in events leading up to the Watergate burglaries and the subsequent Watergate scandal cover-up. He was referred to as the "master manipulator of the cover-up" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He pleaded guilty to a single fel ...more
More about John W. Dean...

Other Books in the Series

The American Presidents (1 - 10 of 41 books)
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  • John Adams (The American Presidents, #2)
  • Thomas Jefferson (The American Presidents, #3)
  • James Madison (American Presidents, #4)
  • James Monroe (The American Presidents, #5)
  • John Quincy Adams (The American Presidents, #6)
  • Andrew Jackson (The American Presidents, #7)
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  • William Henry Harrison (The American Presidents, #9)
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