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Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,739 ratings  ·  182 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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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,739 ratings  ·  182 reviews

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Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
What a weak book. Very disappointing - a little research, some writing, there you are. Wikipedia research would do just fine.
Jan 25, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Esther King
Feb 25, 2020 rated it liked it
As a child, I was enormously fond of the Horrible Histories books (well before there was a television show!). I suppose this book reiterates I am still enormously fond of the concept. Although it didn’t have quite enough meat in it for me to give it a higher rating, it was a fun read, and I loved finding out titbits about every president of the US. There’s a lot that had to be left out, which I understand, but at the same time I wish more had been filtered in! Some of them were far more forgetta ...more
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it
At first glance, this seems to be a somewhat crass look at the presidents, one that's content to dig up dirt on all of them and isn't concerned about any actual history. In point of fact, while it's written with a certain amount of irreverence, there are actual bits of history here, and while it's entirely too short to give anymore than a brief overview of each chief executive, it is a nice little primer on the presidents. ...more
Wilde Sky
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book provides some usual facts / anecdotes about US presidents.

I found this book quite interesting and amusing, some of the “facts” presented were pretty bizarre.
Keith Parrish
This is a book of short biographies and factoids about all of the Presidents up until Obama. The bios are competently written with only a few mistakes and a rather homey, knock your neighbor's elbow kind of style. The factoids are actually fairly interesting and (rather rare for me) present some new information I had not known before. For instance, Gerald Ford was apparently extremely gassy and usually blamed which ever Secret Service agent was closest when he cut one loose. I also found it inte ...more
Amy Jones
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love strange facts and trivia, and this book offers me plenty of those. I've read it a couple times and just decided to read it again. ...more
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: u-s-history
Very minimal but interesting. A good supplement to individual biographies.
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To become a U.S. president you need to be natural born Citizen of USA. There are of course many more requirements. "And until recently, having white skin and a penis were pretty important too." This book is fun and informative, even though it takes on playful way to talk about presidents of the USA. Author gives each president few pages and states the facts about their carrier, what they did right and where they felt, but also gives some personal, often fun facts of their lives.
Did you know f.e
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I love books that profile the Presidents and there are many different angles to be explored out there. Here is yet another entry that says it deals with "secret lives." A bit of a teaser that line as one may think we have some very intriguing and unknown tales between the covers. Well kind of, what we get is a synopsis of what their terms produced, mostly common knowledge. But after this, topics are brought up unique to each man (yep still all men) some which has been out there before and some n ...more
Joanna Pellegrino
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Let me preface by saying I am a history teacher, so I obviously have a very clear bias toward reading books like this. I enjoyed this book very much, but I do wish it was longer with more facts. I love Presidential Trivia of any kind, it's something I can throw into my lessons to get kids hooked or more interested in the President. It's not really a book that calls for an extensive review, what you see is what you get. Maybe you want to learn more about Millard Fillmore. If that's the case, this ...more
Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I am a trivia buff so this book is a lot of fun. I am going next for the companion book on the first ladies.

I have always liked history from the "people who lived it" point of view, not the dates and the big numbers or whatever. This book is full of behind-the-scenes information as well as the major circumstances of each president. Also each presidential chapter requires a short amount of time so I can pause and restart easily. It is well-written and seems to be well-researched. I also like the
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apart from the axe that Cormac O'Brien seems to need to grind with Jack Kennedy, I really liked this book. There were a couple of times that I wasn't sure if the facts were actually true (I was under the impression that the Taft-bathtub rumor had been debunked?), but overall I found it very entertaining, and in general O'Brien does a good job of indicating when the items in the book are hard to verify. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to get a little more of the human side of our presi ...more
Maria Kemplin
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This was a selection I read on kindle, typically on my phone while waiting on appointments (and once during an extended stall in construction traffic). The format of the book is ideal for interruptions, comprised of short chapters featuring each U.S. President. The biographical sketches offer only a trivia-style overview of the president, and in my case each offered information which I had not previously been aware.
donna stevenson
May 10, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Chair summation of tru.p

Totally unfair to Trump while bragging up obama.a know fact obama was and is gay and Michelle is a really a man posing as a woman,you need to tell the truth about obama an his"wife"while not a Trump can be had done more for us than obama did in 8 years and has been horribly mistreated as his wife has,to look at her she has more grace in her little finger than Michelle has in her whole giant body
Jen Estevez
A fun and interesting read with short data points on each president, enough to tickle your fancy. I could see this used in maybe middle grade classrooms as a way to briefly teach about American presidents, and then delve in from there.
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and easy to digest overview of each of the US presidents. Helpful when it context of those who don't get much of the limelight. Would recommend coupling with the Washington Post's "Presidential" podcast! ...more
What a wacky bunch. This is a nice choice for people with little patience for meandering presidential biographies--I just want to hear about the time Coolidge owned a monkey or Teddy Roosevelt got shot and gave a speech anyway.
Emily Seier
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book for someone who loves to see how the presidency evolves over time and is interested in little-known facts about the men who have held the highest office in the land. Has a great flow and is a quick and easy read. I had trouble putting it down!
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lightweight, bullet-pointed history about American presidents. Nothing too deep, so go in expecting the highlights plus some humor. For what I wanted, it was a great read all around. Wished I read it in high school.
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I borrowed this book my expectation was I would read bits and pieces but thats not the way it happened. I really enjoyed reading about the presidents. It didn't go into a lot of detail about each one but just tid bits that really explained about them. ...more
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
An easy read, and moderately fun if you like trivia and/or history. It does feel like there’s a gaping hole missing since the edition I read was written during Trump’s presidency, and the last 100 days were so eventful and will be such an important mark on his legacy.
Wendell H Howell
Dishonest Liberal

Opinions on Obama and Trump underpins everything else in the book. Overly simplified in fact and knowledge. Done with this "author".
Nikki C
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a concise peek into every presidential reign. From quirks to quotes, the reader seems to get an unbiased yet snarky windows through which to learn about the presidents.
Russell Howen
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most interesting, containing tidbits in the life of each president, plus additional material
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a bunch of dicks!
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty interesting book about the presidents.
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