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Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents

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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  653 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Your high school history teachers never gave you a book like this one! Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents features outrageous and uncensored profiles of the men in the White House - complete with hundreds of little-known, politically incorrect, and downright wacko facts.
Paperback, 280 pages
Published December 1st 2003 by Quirk Books (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,257)
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Kellie
In addition to reading the book about the First Families, I carried this book around with me while we were in Washington. It put me in an American History state of mind. This book has a chapter about each president. The author highlights the accomplishments and failures of each. Then he tells us some interesting, if not humorous, things about them. Like, did you know that President Ford locked himself out of the White House while walking his dog? Or, did you know that LBJ had a buzzer system ins ...more
Jelinas
When I was a kid, I had this great book called Facts and Fun About the Presidents. I loved reading about the weird quirks of our nation's leaders, and it was fun to impress my friends by telling them that James Madison was our shortest president (at 5'4" -- my current height) or that John Quincy Adams enjoyed skinny-dipping in the Potomac River.

Well, Cormac O'Brien's book is like a PG-13 version of the same.

His writing is entertaining, but not nearly as fun as the facts he writes about. Once aga
...more
aud
ok so i reread this recently and i recognize that objectively this book is Not Very Good but when i was like nine and i was going through a presidents phase (i was a weird kid) this was maybe my favorite book. i read it so many times i know so much about the presidents it's the reason i'm doing so well in ap us history thank you cormac o'brien
Brian
What a weak book. Very disappointing - a little research, some writing, there you are. Wikipedia research would do just fine.
Anna B.
I thought that this book was a very interesting ways of learning about the presidents. Not only does it just give you the facts about their presidency, it give you fun facts and gossip about them as well. Each president has their own chapter and the book is long enough that your learn lots about each one. It doesn't seem like too much of a text book either, and even has the author's point of view in it. Every single odd thing that the presidents ever did is revealed in this book. I would recomen ...more
Chris
Oct 17, 2008 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: voters, historians, U.S. Presidents
Shelves: history
As we come up to another Presidential election, we're being asked to make a very important choice. We're electing someone to join a very powerful and elite group of men who have shaped the history of the world in the last 200-odd years. It's an important decision, to be sure, and not one to be taken lightly. Will our next President be a political powerhouse, a man who is able to take the reins of the country and lead it into a better and more just future? Will he be inept or corrupt, allowing hi ...more
Jennifer
This book is actually more deserving of 3 1/2 stars, but alas.

It would be interesting to read an updated version of this book in a few years (it only goes through George W. Bush's first term). Overall, I was left with the impression that it's a miracle that the United States has managed to survive (and be a "super power"!) as long as it has. ;)

But on further reflection, it strikes me that this book would be a good read for everyone, given the political climate these days. None of these men wer
...more
David
Enjoyable book to read. It was simple, informative, and filled with little insights and humor of the past US Presidents.

Here are some things that caught my intrigue:
- FDR had good family; we all know about Teddy Roosevelt, but could also count George Washington, John Adams, Ulysses S. Grant, and Winston Churchill.
- LBJ: Didn't know how much of a** he was.
- John Kennedy: His dad was Ambassador to England during WWII and insisted that England, was going to lose (oops). JFK also wrote book, "Why En
...more
B.C.
I really enjoyed the brief chapters on each Commander-in-Chief. The fun factoids at the beginning of each POTUS was also interesting; like who was tall (or short) and age when elected. I am not a strong member of either party, so I appreciated equal praise and criticism all around.
Jason
My original intention was to treat this book like a daily reader; taking in one Chief Executive each evening for forty-some-odd crazy nights of presidential facts and fun. Additionally, my plan was to make the effort to remember all of the names of the amazing to the mediocre to the downright useless men that have held the office. I fell short of one aspiration and exceeded the other.

Could I tell you all the presidents in order?
Not even close.

Did I read this book one day at a time?
Nope. I actual
...more
Anthony Rabattini
Would you use it for a serious academic paper? No. Is it damned entertaining- hell yes. While it didn't smack of academic rigor (for the better), it was entertaining and gave a different insight to presidents that are often overlooked for better or worse.
Rachel
May 14, 2009 Rachel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: factoid lovers
I'm giving this book four stars only because of the entertainment factor. I am not a presidential factoid whiz, so many of the little stories and facts O'Brien presented were new to me. I was transported back to my high school advanced history class, where my teacher knew the secret to getting her students interested was to entertain, bedazzle, and make us laugh.

The facts are interesting, although not always insightful or "fun". The writing is alright, and O'Brien throws in puns, sexual humor, a
...more
Sarah
Interesting and informative, written in a casual style. I learned a lot and enjoyed reading it. One problem: When the author updated the book to include more recent presidents (up through President Obama's first term), he neglected to update Ronald Regan's section to say that he is now deceased. That's kind of a big omission.
Bérénice
Dec 11, 2008 Bérénice rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who don't believe history can be fun!
This book is an encyclopedia of anedoctes about US presidents. Each president has 5 pages dedicated to himself. It is written in a fun way, you can just pick it up and read some info about the president you like or dislike, or just read it through like a regular novel. This is history the way i like it, it does not only mention the great achievements and failures of each president, it focuses on everyday things that made each of them just like everyone else, yet unique in their own ways. This bo ...more
Mandy Casto
It took me FOREVER to read this book...but I blame that on my crazy-hectic schedule of a life and less on the format of the book. Very informative and really interesting anecdotes - some of which I was made previously aware and some not - that really give a well-rounded picture of the leaders of the free world. I really liked learning about the First Ladies who supported their husbands in their role of Mr. President. The President is not a person leading the nation but usually, in most cases, a ...more
Charles Beattie
It seemed biased. I don't think he researched enough about Coolidge or Hoover. He never mentioned that Hoover raised taxes, signed the Smoot-Hawley Act.

He seems to only support the Keynesian view. He never mentions how FDR's own Treasury Secretary mentions that they tried spending more and it never worked. He also opposed FDR's 100% tax on income over $25,000 (A maximum wage) which today would be $260,000. Kennedy did the opposite of FDR, he cut taxes. Of course FDR wasn't the one who expanded S
...more
Julie
I liked this book, but I don't think it was that well written - it's more snippets and scandals of each president, but it's not a cohesive look at each president. The other thing that is unique about this book is that I think I would prefer to read it as a physical book. There are many references to relationships, descendants, etc among the presidents, and unfortunately it's just more cumbersome to navigate back and forth on the Kindle. Anyhoo - interesting, but I will probably only retain a sma ...more
Wendy
Jul 04, 2014 Wendy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
I love, love trivia. And then there is the subtitle: "What Your Teachers Never Told You About the Men of the White House."
Gary
I read this one before reading "Secret Lives of the First Ladies." Interesting and great bedtime reading.
Shaun Brady
Most U.S. President trivia books fall into the dry, long drawn but really insightful or quick with little new knowledge. This book is both. Really insightful but far from boring.

This is a PG-13 look at our nations leaders. There never was a "good old day" where we lived in peace and harmony and perfect accord, being led by a noble and just man. All of our presidents have flaws and this book points them out. Some of the facts presented here are something I haven't read anywhere else.

The author r
...more
Brenda
My fascination with Alice Roosevelt stems from the rumor that she coined the saying, "If you haven't got anything good to say about someone, sit next to me." That also explains why I enjoyed this book so much...it's a light read and besides the things that are already well known (one of the presidents was so fat he had to have a special tub installed at the White House), there were a lot of things I didn't know. Which President married a girl who had been his ward since the age of 11? You'll hav ...more
MomIsReading
Amazing how many of our Presidents were philanderers.
Lola
Dec 20, 2011 Lola rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of presidental history and people looking for dirt on presidents
Yet another amazing read picked up at Greenfield Village. Seriously, I recommend a visit. This shattered any idealistic ideas I still had about the leaders of our nation. Now I just sit in history and smirk while everyone else believes the crap fed to them. Of course, not to say that our presidents weren't good men cuz most of them were, but they were also human. Well-researched with interesting caricatures, this reveals unique data and little known-facts on some of the greatest men in our coun ...more
Kelsey
Jul 10, 2008 Kelsey rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any history nut
Shelves: favorites
When you're in school, teachers proclaim the US Presidents to be great and brave men. Well, of course they were great and brave men, come on, they took on probably one of the hardest jobs in the world! But we always have to remember, these presidents were normal every-day guys! And this book goes in-depth of these presidents lives. I couldn't believe on how many presidents cheated on their wives!! And we thought Clinton was bad!! This book was amazing, a must read!!
Nikki Golden
This book is an easy-to-read breakdown of all of the presidents, through George Dubya. In addition to a synopsis of the election or major key points of the presidency, there are the little-known tidbits. I didn't realize so many presidents died in office or as paupers in the early days. Or were such womanizers. Or were so ineffectual as presidents. Honestly, after reading this, you wonder how the U.S. has stayed a super power for so long.
Zoe
Fulfills its promise of interesting little factoids about the presidents, mostly non-partisan. Heavily weighted toward recent occupants of the job, while I would have preferred more about those we historically hear less about. One star reduction for basic proof-reading errors and formatting problems on the Kindle Paperwhite. It seems like Amazon is depending on the people buying their books in Kindle format to catch glaringly obvious errors.
Kimberly
An interesting book that gives you a look into the lives of US Presidents. The book is laid out in such a way that you can read it from cover to cover or you can pick which presidents you want to read about and even within a president what tidbits you want to read. A great read for those who have a interest in politics or just want to hear some fun and often unknown interesting tidbits.
Rita
I read this book while also reading the companion book about the first ladies. The author gives the reader some very interesting information and also provides some humor along the way. These books would be useful in a history classroom and could provide some unique info about the presidents and the events of each of their terms that often are not a part of the standard history textbook.
John
I found it to be a very insightful and entertaining look at the lives and personalities of past presidents. The way some of the more recent presidents were portrayed made me suspect the storytelling /embellishing of the ones further in the past.

This isn't going to replace a serious history book but it certainly provides another level of insight and was quite an entertaining read.
Chris Sosa
Plenty of amusing and interesting facts about the Presidents. Unfortunately, O'Brien isn't as skilled of a humorist as he fancies himself. Rather than letting the often side-splitting and bizarre facts speak for themselves, a groan-worthy quip awaits readers around every corner. This is a good book for the research that went into it, but it should've been a far better one.
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