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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review: Don't Know Much About the American Presidents by Kenneth C. Davis

dont know much about am pres

Don’t Know Much About The American Presidents by Kenneth C. Davis
Unabridged, 23 hr. 52 min.
Random House Audio
Arthur Morey, Kirby Heyborne, and Mark Bramhall (Narrators)
September 18, 2012

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Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Purchased audiobook through Audible

"Which president broke the law to prevent enslaved people from being freed? Who said, "When the president does it,that means it's not illegal"? Why does America have a president? From the heated debates among the framers of the Constitution in 1787 over an "elected king," to the creation of the presidency, and on through rich profiles of each man who has held the office, New York Times bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis takes readers on a guided tour of American history. Examining each chief executive, from the low lights to the bright lights, the memorable to the forgettable and the forgotten, Davis tells all the stories, offering rich anecdotes about real people. He also charts the history of the presidency itself, debunking myths and grading the presidents from A+ to F. For history buffs and history-phobes alike, this entertaining book may change your understanding of the highest office in the land throughout more than two hundred years of history."

After having enjoyed the initial installment of the Don’t Know Much About… series I was excited to read Kenneth C. Davis’ take on the American Presidents. Davis breaks his narrative down into three major sections: The Making of the President; Presidential Profiles; and What Should We Do With the President?. The first section focuses on what the Constitutional framers intended the role of the President to be (or not be). The second, and admittedly where the bulk of the book takes place, is a look at each individual President and a grading/ranking of their place in American history. The final section is a wrap up that looks at where the role of the President goes from here. A complete, well-rounded view of the presidency.

The first and final sections were utterly forgettable – honestly, I didn’t pay any attention to these sections. The main action transpires in the individual biographies of the Presidents, from George Washington up through the first term of Barack Obama. If you have read widely within the Presidential biography realm, there wasn’t much new material presented here; a general scope of their presidencies. What was interesting for me was to read about some history that I have actually lived through with regard to the late 1980’s through the present. There were some great appendices presented at the back of the book as well. Short on time? Check out the Milestones in each President’s life at the beginning of each chapter or the Milestones in the Presidency of each Presidents as the chapter wrap up.

Davis presents his content in his traditional, easy to digest, question and answer format. Ultimately if you are in the market to learn a little something about each of the Presidents, this could be the book for you.



The three narrators were presented in the same manner as his prior book. There is one narrator for the questions, one for the answers, and a third who reads the other material. This worked well for the style of the material being presented and the change of narration kept it from being monotonous.

Author Kenneth C. Davis also has written the following for adults: Don’t Know Much About the Bible, Don’t Know Much About the Civil War, Don’t Know Much About Geography, Don’t Know Much About Mythology, and Don’t Know Much About History. He also has a series of books for kids focused on specific topics such as the Pilgrims or Space. You can view the whole children’s list here. You can visit the author’s website for additional information about the book. Check out this audio excerpt.

My reviews of other books by this author:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

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