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First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama

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Every president has had some experience as a parent. Of the 43 men who have served in the nation's highest office, 38 have fathered biological children and the other five adopted children. Each president's parenting style reveals much about his beliefs as well as his psychological make-up. James Garfield enjoyed jumping on the bed with his kids. FDR's children, on the othe Every president has had some experience as a parent. Of the 43 men who have served in the nation's highest office, 38 have fathered biological children and the other five adopted children. Each president's parenting style reveals much about his beliefs as well as his psychological make-up. James Garfield enjoyed jumping on the bed with his kids. FDR's children, on the other hand, had to make appointments to talk to him. In a lively narrative, based on research in archives around the country, Kendall shows presidential character in action. Readers will learn which type of parent might be best suited to leading the American people and, finally, how the fathering experiences of our presidents have forever changed the course of American history.


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Every president has had some experience as a parent. Of the 43 men who have served in the nation's highest office, 38 have fathered biological children and the other five adopted children. Each president's parenting style reveals much about his beliefs as well as his psychological make-up. James Garfield enjoyed jumping on the bed with his kids. FDR's children, on the othe Every president has had some experience as a parent. Of the 43 men who have served in the nation's highest office, 38 have fathered biological children and the other five adopted children. Each president's parenting style reveals much about his beliefs as well as his psychological make-up. James Garfield enjoyed jumping on the bed with his kids. FDR's children, on the other hand, had to make appointments to talk to him. In a lively narrative, based on research in archives around the country, Kendall shows presidential character in action. Readers will learn which type of parent might be best suited to leading the American people and, finally, how the fathering experiences of our presidents have forever changed the course of American history.

30 review for First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

    Wavering back-and-forth between two and three stars. Lots of snarky comments about some of these presidents. I may also be a little emotional and sensitive to those directed at President Obama, considering these are his last days in office. And, for the next four years we won't actually have a president, but a spoiled child who fights with people on Twitter. Fantastic. Full review to come ++++++++++++ Check out my review on my blog http://allthebookblognamesaretaken.bl... or www.facebook.com/AllThe Wavering back-and-forth between two and three stars. Lots of snarky comments about some of these presidents. I may also be a little emotional and sensitive to those directed at President Obama, considering these are his last days in office. And, for the next four years we won't actually have a president, but a spoiled child who fights with people on Twitter. Fantastic. Full review to come ++++++++++++ Check out my review on my blog http://allthebookblognamesaretaken.bl... or www.facebook.com/AllTheBookBlogNamesA...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Candy

    The large cast of characters gets confusing, but I found the idea of comparing parenting with governing styles interesting.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Deacon Tom F

    Great insights in the personal and often embarrassing live of our presidents. I really enjoyed

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Craig

    It felt gossipy and it was all over the place. It was also had to keep track of the hundreds of people mentioned - I found myself getting bored and just not caring.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Josephalewis

    This book starts from the premise that character, as traditionally defined, both counts and is worth resuscitating as a critical variable in political analysis. In an attempt to bring a fresh perspective to presidential leadership, it focuses on an overlooked window onto character – fathering. P.4 According to child development expert’s, most parents – and presidents are no exception – fall into three broad categories: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. P. 8 On February 5, FDR enjoyed l This book starts from the premise that character, as traditionally defined, both counts and is worth resuscitating as a critical variable in political analysis. In an attempt to bring a fresh perspective to presidential leadership, it focuses on an overlooked window onto character – fathering. P.4 According to child development expert’s, most parents – and presidents are no exception – fall into three broad categories: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. P. 8 On February 5, FDR enjoyed learning from his daughter that his son Franklin Junior then still married to Ethan Dupont was having an affair with Herman‘s daughter, Kathleen. As James later noted in his memoir , FDR himself loved the affection of “admiring and attractive ladies“ and tales of his name sake‘s infidelity, rather than alarming him, but will have given the president a vicarious thrill. As Johnson saw it, fellow politicians went along with you not because they like to you but because they either feared you or wanted something from you. “You, Ralph, are still leading a bachelors life?Don’t you regret it? Now I have four children, three boys and one girl, and who is society I feel more enjoyment then I possibly can with any other company. They are a responsibility giving me much more pleasure than anxiety. It may not be too late for you yet.” US Grant. P80 Just 42 when he replaced the assassinated William McKinley, TR remains the youngest man ever to lead the nation. And no president, before or since, has been surrounded by such a vibrant brewed, who injected so much energy and fun into his daily life. “As Roosevelt often said, he was prouder to be a father of six and the head of a nation of 80 million.… That no matter how things came out the really important thing was the lovely life I have with mother in with your children, and that compared to this home life everything else was a very small important from the standpoint of happiness... TR Intimated that race suicide would occur if the average family have fewer than four children.” Of the five former president who were alive at the start of the Civil War, Tyler alone joined the enemy. P.136 Like many Virginia plantation owners in the first half of the 19th century – with the notable exception of Tyler’s father-in-law – Tyler was constantly cash poor. P. 147 Julia wrote to her mother that “a true reman, the tender has been, the more devoted father never existed,“ stress in that “his character was perfect.“ His wife, as well as the surviving children from each of his marriages, would side with the confederacy – the middle-aged Robert and John Junior both served bureaucrats under President Jefferson Davis, and his two teenage sons from his second marriage David and John, both bought in the confederate army. And all these Tylers would also continue to ideal life has every thought. As his oldest son Robert Taylor, noted the end of the war, “Everything he did or said should be preserved in gold, for a better or Peter or a Wise or a statement has never lived in these times.” P.160 “I believe my children will think I might as well have thought and labored a little, night and day, for their benefit. But I will not bear the reproaches of my children. I will tell them that I studied in labor to procure a free constitutional government for them to solace themselves under, and if they do not prefer this to ample fortune… They are not my children, and I care not what becomes of them... I must study politics and war so that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.“ P.196 John Adams ready Nuh George Washington to his wife Abigail – “happy Washington: happy to be childless. My children give me more pain and all my enemies…” p.204 Capricious- given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior. You [Franklin Pierce] Seem… Chastened her by heaviest afflictions… To find your happiness in doing a service to your country like the childless presidents who have gone before you.” (with the exception of pug, the middle in that category – Washington, Madison, and Jackson - had all been successful two-term president) “ The Kansas Nebraska act dramatically Heightened across the country. Those who opposed slavery felt betrayed by the president. In 1855 Pierce’s home state, New Hampshire, no longer had a Democratic governor or any democratic congressman, and the fierce abolitionist John P held only one of its seats in the U.S. Senate. He held his Bowdoin college classmates personally responsible for the “murders, arsons… And cruel Outrages which have been committed against Kansas.” Such animus against Pierce also gripped the entire nation. In the 1850 for midterm elections, anxious and disgruntled voters punished the Democrats, who lost nearly half of their 157 seats in the House of Representatives. This sudden reversal pave the way for the birth of the republican party which quickly garnered supporters by promising to contain slavery. In Cincinnati that June, Pierce suffered a humiliating defeat when he became the only elected president to seek his parties nomination and then fail to get the nod. p.257 “ The way I transact the cabinet business is to leave to the head of each department the conduct of his own business.… The business of America is business.“ In the spring of 1925 after Congress went on a long recess he stated in a press conference, “I would like it if the country could think as little as possible about the government… So far as I can tell, there won’t be any very large governmental matters projected by the executive.… In a day of yes men, Calvin Coolidge was a great no man.” “ in the fall of 1876, Rutherford transferred to Cornell. Once the youngster settled, his father offered only one piece of advice. “The golden rule,“ he’s wrote on September 27, “is the whole law and the profit on the subject of intercourse with others.“ “ it must be the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.“ To back up his words, which soon became known as the Truman doctrine, the president insisted that Congress approve the spending of $400 million to support the hard-suppressed Greek and Turkish government against a possible Communist insurgency. This generous aid package as most historians now agree, represented the official start of the cold war in 1947.” P.327 “It occurred to me,” the president declared later that year , “the quarter of a million of the flower of our young manhood were worth a couple of Japanese cities, and I still think they are.” With the atomic blast ended up killing over 100,000 Japanese civilians, Truman had felt duty-bound to protect his American boys.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joseph J.

    What a unique find of a book! Purchased because I surprisingly enjoyed the author's bio of Noah Webster-rich in color of the times-this is another individual take on Presidential history. Divided into chapters by type of dad and not time in history, this book shows that the legacy of a dad in the White House may lead to frustration and tragedy. In the latter category, the story of the sons on John Quincy Adams-himself the son of a hard driving Presidential dad-is a tale of alcoholism and suicide What a unique find of a book! Purchased because I surprisingly enjoyed the author's bio of Noah Webster-rich in color of the times-this is another individual take on Presidential history. Divided into chapters by type of dad and not time in history, this book shows that the legacy of a dad in the White House may lead to frustration and tragedy. In the latter category, the story of the sons on John Quincy Adams-himself the son of a hard driving Presidential dad-is a tale of alcoholism and suicide. John Adams himself also had two sons who fell into alcoholism; John and JQ mirrored one another in scoring one "successful" son each. THE surprise of the book is in double-dealing dads; while Grover Cleveland and Warren G. Harding each sired illegitimate children, the lusty John Tyler may have fathered over fifty. While he had 7 with each of his wives, Tyler is now suspected of fathering numerous slave children, indeed which he sold into slavery. Even his second wife, the Long Island born Julia-younger than his children-fell into the slave mentality on a child has a monetary value. Interestingly, one of Tyler's legitimate grandsons was interviewed for this book. There is much color-Harding's juvenile romanticism stands out-and surprise as in the seemingly all-American Carter family. And there is tragedy with Coolidge and the dark story of Franklin Pierce so graphically told. Again, a unique and rewarding read into Presidential history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    With a nice balance between personal reminiscence and researched fact, this exploration of the parenting styles of the US’s presidents makes for some interesting and often intriguing reading. Of the 43 men who have held this highest office, all of them have had some sort of experience of being a father – either of their own biological children, or from having adopted. How they approached the paternal role demonstrates much about their characters, and, to some extent, how this is reflected in the With a nice balance between personal reminiscence and researched fact, this exploration of the parenting styles of the US’s presidents makes for some interesting and often intriguing reading. Of the 43 men who have held this highest office, all of them have had some sort of experience of being a father – either of their own biological children, or from having adopted. How they approached the paternal role demonstrates much about their characters, and, to some extent, how this is reflected in their roles as presidents. Arranged thematically, and thus jumping around rather a lot chronologically, I sometimes found the book a little jumbled and confusing – personally I would have preferred a straight chronological approach – the book is well-written on the whole and offers some fascinating glimpses into the family dynamic behind the White House doors.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Vince Deuschel

    I was given this as a Fathers' Day gift and put it aside. I could committed the grave error of judging a book by it cover - to sappy I thought. Could not put it down - well worth the effort! Thank you to my lovely family for a greatly gift and a gray lesson. I was given this as a Fathers' Day gift and put it aside. I could committed the grave error of judging a book by it cover - to sappy I thought. Could not put it down - well worth the effort! Thank you to my lovely family for a greatly gift and a gray lesson.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Paul Clarke

    In 'First Dads', Joshua Kendall has come up with a fun perspective through which to view the U.S. Presidents. Kendall creates six categories of fathers and drops each president into one of the following buckets: Preoccupied, Playful Pals, Double Dealing Dads, Tiger Dads, the Grief Stricken and the Nurturers. The last category is the one held in the highest esteem and our outgoing president Barack Obama is identified as one of them, which is consistent with his public image. There are surprises t In 'First Dads', Joshua Kendall has come up with a fun perspective through which to view the U.S. Presidents. Kendall creates six categories of fathers and drops each president into one of the following buckets: Preoccupied, Playful Pals, Double Dealing Dads, Tiger Dads, the Grief Stricken and the Nurturers. The last category is the one held in the highest esteem and our outgoing president Barack Obama is identified as one of them, which is consistent with his public image. There are surprises too. FDR (Preoccupied) is depicted as an inattentive parent who didn't offer much guidance to his children who would go on to have troubled lives despite being someone who used the office to help the less fortunate. Also, Jimmy Carter (Tiger Dad) famous for his humanitarian work was a martinet as a parent, whose children rebelled against their health conscious father by smoking cigarettes and getting high on the roof of the White House. The Grief Stricken provides unique insight into the office holders. Our presidents are often depicted as men of great strength in the face of adversity but not all of them were. Franklin Pierce and Calvin Coolidge, who both lost children while in office, became greatly diminished in their ability to perform their job afterwards, showing that human frailty reaches the most powerful among us. Kendall's book provides an entertaining way to explore two of the great american pastimes: parenting and the presidency.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mike Smith

    Overall, I found this a bit disappointing. Kendall seems to aim at explaining presidential acumen in light of their parenting style, but it seems to place fatherhood in a place of distraction rather than either defining or even supplemental. In the epilogue he references how European citizens tend to allow more of a separation of roles, and perhaps that idea that our American leaders are expected to be all-in regarding their chief professional roles bears more explanation. He contrasts this with Overall, I found this a bit disappointing. Kendall seems to aim at explaining presidential acumen in light of their parenting style, but it seems to place fatherhood in a place of distraction rather than either defining or even supplemental. In the epilogue he references how European citizens tend to allow more of a separation of roles, and perhaps that idea that our American leaders are expected to be all-in regarding their chief professional roles bears more explanation. He contrasts this with corporate leaders, but I instead see a parallel. In any case, the book provides many interesting anecdotes that were new to me. But it seems mostly illustrative of prior conclusions rather than newly insightful. One exception seemed to be the case of Franklin Pierce, but it seems like the actual cause is his grief as a father, not necessarily his parenting style. Nonetheless, I found that section most enlightening. And as a new recreation league parent-coach, I would be curious to hear more about Obama’s basketball coaching experiences.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michell Karnes

    This book takes the premiss that when looking at a president's character a person should look at how he parented his children. All too often the only familial relationship looked at is the marriage relationship. While the title says from George Washington to Obama some presidents are looked at more in-depth and others hardly at all. So while it was a good book and one I would recommend, the title is misleading. The book groups presidents by their parenting style rather than looking at the presid This book takes the premiss that when looking at a president's character a person should look at how he parented his children. All too often the only familial relationship looked at is the marriage relationship. While the title says from George Washington to Obama some presidents are looked at more in-depth and others hardly at all. So while it was a good book and one I would recommend, the title is misleading. The book groups presidents by their parenting style rather than looking at the presidents in chronological order. Also, at times the text was difficult to follow because even within a section on a particular president the author jumped back and forth in time. All in all a good book with a different way of looking at and learning about past presidents.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I actually really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to see how the different parenting styles affected each person's ability to lead the US. Of course, it's not a fool proof analysis but I think it gives a nice insight into how these men balanced family and career. The other presidential books I've read have focused primarily on leadership style, family background, etc but by focusing on a president as a father gives a more personal feel to these men. I will say this book was a bit slow in s I actually really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to see how the different parenting styles affected each person's ability to lead the US. Of course, it's not a fool proof analysis but I think it gives a nice insight into how these men balanced family and career. The other presidential books I've read have focused primarily on leadership style, family background, etc but by focusing on a president as a father gives a more personal feel to these men. I will say this book was a bit slow in some parts, but overall the structure made sense. If you're into biographies and/or US presidential history, it's worth giving this book a perusal.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    The author did not just write about how the relationship some presidential dads had with their kids, but also the effect their personalities had on their presidency. I enjoyed the book, but thought some of the chapters were too long. I think the author could have been more concise in some cases. I also would have enjoyed it more if it had been mostly about modern-day presidents; however, that was not the author's intent. Given that, there are some pretty interesting stories about some of the pre The author did not just write about how the relationship some presidential dads had with their kids, but also the effect their personalities had on their presidency. I enjoyed the book, but thought some of the chapters were too long. I think the author could have been more concise in some cases. I also would have enjoyed it more if it had been mostly about modern-day presidents; however, that was not the author's intent. Given that, there are some pretty interesting stories about some of the presidents. The number of children fathered and the number of children who died was startling to me. Even more interesting was how many of the children of presidents turned out.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lee Adams

    I had high hopes for this book. I love the concept. The book is a tome of fascinating information but the author's writing and chaotic organization of the material are much to be desired. The book has chronic ADHD mentioning a topic, quickly moving on to the next, then jumping back again to the original 100+ pages later. There is no cohesion. Unfortunate. I had high hopes for this book. I love the concept. The book is a tome of fascinating information but the author's writing and chaotic organization of the material are much to be desired. The book has chronic ADHD mentioning a topic, quickly moving on to the next, then jumping back again to the original 100+ pages later. There is no cohesion. Unfortunate.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    A wonderful read that helps you remember that politicians, especially presidents, are in fact human beings. Some of them are very flawed. All of them are very flawed. But all of them also want what is best for their families. It's a nice reminder in these times. A wonderful read that helps you remember that politicians, especially presidents, are in fact human beings. Some of them are very flawed. All of them are very flawed. But all of them also want what is best for their families. It's a nice reminder in these times.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    I definitely agree with some of the other reviews. While it was interesting to read, the format didn't seem to flow. Some of the First Dads I was surprised at how little they were mentioned, while others got a bit lengthy. I definitely agree with some of the other reviews. While it was interesting to read, the format didn't seem to flow. Some of the First Dads I was surprised at how little they were mentioned, while others got a bit lengthy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    An Engaging and Unique Historical Perspective Well written and detailed, I found it difficult to stop at times. Appreciated that it didn't give a sanitized version of history. An Engaging and Unique Historical Perspective Well written and detailed, I found it difficult to stop at times. Appreciated that it didn't give a sanitized version of history.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carol Blakeman

    Learning about our Presidents has always been fascinating to me, and I loved this take on our nation's leaders. Learning about our Presidents has always been fascinating to me, and I loved this take on our nation's leaders.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    "First Dads" offers a fascinating glimpse at the personal lives, parenting styles, and historical legacies of our nation’s presidents. Written in an accessible, engaging style with good flow and pacing, the text should appeal to anyone with an interest in parenting and appetite for history or celebrity. Kendall doesn’t offer up much by way of parenting advice, aside from confirming the old Goldilocks theory: not too permissive and not too authoritarian, but just right, has proven best for America "First Dads" offers a fascinating glimpse at the personal lives, parenting styles, and historical legacies of our nation’s presidents. Written in an accessible, engaging style with good flow and pacing, the text should appeal to anyone with an interest in parenting and appetite for history or celebrity. Kendall doesn’t offer up much by way of parenting advice, aside from confirming the old Goldilocks theory: not too permissive and not too authoritarian, but just right, has proven best for America’s “first kids” too. A novel conclusion rocked one of my core beliefs though. I’ve always thought everyone should strive to be the best parent they can be, and that those who manage and attend to children well will naturally excel in other areas too. But Kendall says the best dads haven’t made for the most effective presidents. It’s a new lens through which to consider our attempts to “have it all.” In this respect and others, I wonder whether Kendall can possibly offer the right take on the vast number of presidencies and historical events he covers. His presentation of the likelihood of George Washington having an illegitimate son, for example, differs with Thomas Fleming’s extensive research on the subject. (Kendall basically says, “Could have been true,” while Fleming writes in "The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers" that it almost certainly didn’t happen.) Generalizations about the effectiveness of the Obama administration also may be premature. That said, "First Dads" is well worth reading, even if just for interesting factoids like the following: "As Grant’s volunteer aide-de-camp, Fred would live and eat in his father’s tent for most of the war. On many a night, father and son would sleep side by side." "Decades later, the White House staff was still telling stories about how 'there was never a morning in the year that the whole five did not go and pile in to the bed with President and Mrs. [Teddy] Roosevelt.'" "Play was as essential to the President as to his offspring. That Christmas, between lunch and dinner, Roosevelt squeezed in several hours of single stick—a form of fencing—with two friends from his Rough Rider days . . . whom he dubbed his 'playmates.'" "Like TR, [Hayes, a] Republican, who easily identified with the concerns of children, would also insist that it was the President’s duty to help protect America’s little guys from its big guys."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenni V.

    I thought this was an unique take on looking at the presidents. Overall, it emphasized how little I actually know about most of the presidents beyond name recognition. While this book was well-researched I also took things with a grain of salt since a lot of history relies on subjective assessment, either by themselves or someone else. Same with the scandals, especially concerning possible illegitimate children; it was probably my favorite section but I know those things are impossible to know f I thought this was an unique take on looking at the presidents. Overall, it emphasized how little I actually know about most of the presidents beyond name recognition. While this book was well-researched I also took things with a grain of salt since a lot of history relies on subjective assessment, either by themselves or someone else. Same with the scandals, especially concerning possible illegitimate children; it was probably my favorite section but I know those things are impossible to know for sure. It was also interesting to compare the public vs. private persona - things that would be strengths as a president can be weaknesses as a parent. For example, Grover Cleveland didn't form close relationships which isn't great as a father but helped keep his administration small (he didn't feel a compulsion to appoint friends or keep people around for loyalty). Or many successful presidents were successful because they were so focused on their career, not leaving as much time for a home life, especially in the early days when travel was difficult. This would've been a good book for my pre-pandemic lifestyle where I spent a lot of time waiting in the van to pick up or drop off kids. Even though I'm not driving anywhere I still read it in that way - short snippets here and there. The book is not set up chronologically but instead grouped the presidents together by their parenting style. This kept it interesting and easy to follow, especially when I could compare the style to the eras, but since I wasn't reading it quickly there were some points where I had to re-read something to orient myself. I chuckled at the sentence, "Until America's entry into the Great War, [Woodrow] Wilson rarely worked long days. He...set the record for presidential golf outings with one thousand." Since this was published in 2016 I'm guessing there might be a new record holder. *eye roll* Fun fact: Franklin Pierce's 7-member cabinet is the only one that stayed together for the full presidential term. Find all my reviews at: https://readingatrandom.blogspot.com

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I've been on a bit of a "presidential" angle in my reading lately and found this premise intriguing: analyzing presidential parenting styles in relation to their administrations. I found most of this text quite enjoyable in its look at various presidential child/parent relationships. Chapters on Grant's and Teddy Roosevelt's "no holds barred" broods, the grief stricken administrations of McKinley, Pierce and Coolidge, and the workaholic demands/isolation of FDR, LBJ and Carter (now that last one I've been on a bit of a "presidential" angle in my reading lately and found this premise intriguing: analyzing presidential parenting styles in relation to their administrations. I found most of this text quite enjoyable in its look at various presidential child/parent relationships. Chapters on Grant's and Teddy Roosevelt's "no holds barred" broods, the grief stricken administrations of McKinley, Pierce and Coolidge, and the workaholic demands/isolation of FDR, LBJ and Carter (now that last one was REALLY surprising) were especially good reading. However, there are sections that drag, and for me, they diminished my overall enjoyment and rating. There is a very long discussion of John Tyler and yes, learning how reprehensible he apparently was--was eye opening--it went on too long. The same happens with the John/John Quincy Adams chapter; Rutherford B Hayes comes across as a delightful man, parent, and undervalued president, but that discussion needed to end earlier as well. Further complicating matters is the generational use of repetitive names, which becomes quite hard to keep clear--especially in the Adams and Tyler chapters. Events and people are also not always discussed in consistent chronological order; they are often discussed in a "back and forth" manner that sometimes created confusion, repetition, and the sense of "bogging down." Yet, despite those moments, I still recommend the book to anyone who is a presidential history enthusiast. Having recently lost my dad, a lot of this made me further appreciate and remember his loving and admirable qualities. For those interested in a bit of a "trilogy" I would put this with Karen Brower's fascinating "First Women" and Brady Carlson's engaging and humorous "Dead Presidents" for some fun historical reading.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I loved this book, I have been interested in learning more about the Presidents as of late. I thought this book was very informative and I learned things that I didn't know otherwise. This book was only six chapters long, but each chapter was very lengthy. Joshua Kendell didn't use all the Presidents in this book but he does talk about a fair amount of them. Each chapter is divided into the Presidents parenting styles might fall under and certain presidents might fall into more then one category I loved this book, I have been interested in learning more about the Presidents as of late. I thought this book was very informative and I learned things that I didn't know otherwise. This book was only six chapters long, but each chapter was very lengthy. Joshua Kendell didn't use all the Presidents in this book but he does talk about a fair amount of them. Each chapter is divided into the Presidents parenting styles might fall under and certain presidents might fall into more then one category. The categories are like, Nurturers, playful pals, tiger dads, and the list goes on. An example of this was that Ulysses S. Grant falls under the playful pal, many people would be shocked by this because he had a reputation when it comes to his drinking, but the Kendall hinted that he only drank when he was away from his family, and the reason he drank was because he missed them so bad. He missed them to the point that he that he retired early from the army to be with them. Grant very much a hands on dad, he would play with them and he would take them every where he went. And when he was away from them he would write his wife Julia about them. One thing I did like about this book is that Kendall focused on Presidents that are not often heard about. He wrote extensively on Tyler Pierce and Ruthford B Hays. He also talked about Calvin Coolidge. Over all I thought this book was very good and if your interested in the Presidents this is a good place to start. I learned things that I didn't know before, like Barack Obama gave his daughters alarm clocks at the age of 4 and they were expected to wake themselves and get ready. I also learned that Harry Truman daughter- Margaret is not only a famous author but she also was singer as well.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

    This is a Goodreads win review. This is a very wonderful book about the relationship between the Presidents of the US and their children and the parenting styles they had. It is very hard to be a great father when you are President because of the demands on their time. Some of the Presidents really enjoyed their children, and FDR.s children had to make an appointment to see him. This book is rich with experience and history at the same time. The fathers are listed in categories: The Preoccupied, This is a Goodreads win review. This is a very wonderful book about the relationship between the Presidents of the US and their children and the parenting styles they had. It is very hard to be a great father when you are President because of the demands on their time. Some of the Presidents really enjoyed their children, and FDR.s children had to make an appointment to see him. This book is rich with experience and history at the same time. The fathers are listed in categories: The Preoccupied, (FDR, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan). The next one is Playful Pals: (James Buchanan, Chester Arthur, and George W. Bush). This book has way too much to talk about everything. One thing I learned is that some of the children of the Presidents have not fared well in life. These children have suffered early deaths, had psychiatric problems, depression, substance abuse, and a high divorce rate. Some feel they can never live up to their fathers level. The book has great photos and an index at the end if you want to know something in particular.

  24. 5 out of 5

    E

    Hard to rate. Could easily have given it 2 stars. The history itself is high-quality. This is not a "pop-history" book. He dives into the archives to provide full pictures, especially of some lesser-studied presidents (Hayes, Pierce, Tyler). I especially liked his looks at McKinley and Cleveland, some of my favorites. What I hated, though, were his judgments of some of these presidents' fathering skills. He skewers Adams, Quincy Adams, Ike, Coolidge, and others because they did not parent (or gri Hard to rate. Could easily have given it 2 stars. The history itself is high-quality. This is not a "pop-history" book. He dives into the archives to provide full pictures, especially of some lesser-studied presidents (Hayes, Pierce, Tyler). I especially liked his looks at McKinley and Cleveland, some of my favorites. What I hated, though, were his judgments of some of these presidents' fathering skills. He skewers Adams, Quincy Adams, Ike, Coolidge, and others because they did not parent (or grieve) like Kendall thinks they should. He applies modern standards of sissy-parenting to the previous centuries, which is a dire mistake (both in historiography and in fatherhood!). Basically, the more feminine as a father you were, the better a parent you were, according to Kendall. He does not want fathers to be fathers; he just wants them to be "nice." And don't get me started on the Obama section. Good grief. However, the straight history in this book was great, so somehow it merits 3 stars.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Linsy

    As a self-described Presidential nerd, I was very excited about this book and it did not disappoint! Dividing our Presidents into 6 categories based on parenting style, I learned about how our Presidents dealt (or in some cases didn't) with the responsibilities they had to both their children and the nation. It was quite fascinating. I learned a lot about Presidents I wasn't as familiar with, which I quite enjoyed. It was interesting how the presidents parenting style would often be indicative o As a self-described Presidential nerd, I was very excited about this book and it did not disappoint! Dividing our Presidents into 6 categories based on parenting style, I learned about how our Presidents dealt (or in some cases didn't) with the responsibilities they had to both their children and the nation. It was quite fascinating. I learned a lot about Presidents I wasn't as familiar with, which I quite enjoyed. It was interesting how the presidents parenting style would often be indicative of how they would run the nation. There are of course outliers to this generalization I'm making, but overall, the same traits they'd display in the personal lives would be seen in their governing styles as well. Sadly, one of the things I most took away from this book is that it sucks to be the child of a President. Most Presidential offspring end up leading rough lives.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dan Keefer

    Even for non-history buffs, it is a great read. I was concerned that the author would refrain from talking about the Presidents that were particularly bad parents, but I believe he compelling in his hypothesis that there are four types of fathers. He then went about using examples of each type. This book also serves a sociological purpose in showing how a President's childhood plays out both in how he parents and how he governs. It shows how tragedy in their private lives often affects their gove Even for non-history buffs, it is a great read. I was concerned that the author would refrain from talking about the Presidents that were particularly bad parents, but I believe he compelling in his hypothesis that there are four types of fathers. He then went about using examples of each type. This book also serves a sociological purpose in showing how a President's childhood plays out both in how he parents and how he governs. It shows how tragedy in their private lives often affects their governing lives. The lives of the children of Presidents are also followed in informative ways. I highly recommend this book to not only history buffs but to those interested in parenting. It is well written and hard to put down.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marcia King

    I really wanted to like this book. Have read many books on politics, history and various Presidents and was interested in this authors research and analysis of their roles as fathers. Although there were a few interviews with the children of presidents and some insight based on journals and letters,most of the book was based on the research and books already published. In addition, it is not very well written; categorizing the presidents into "Tiger Dads," "Nurturers," etc made it a bit confusin I really wanted to like this book. Have read many books on politics, history and various Presidents and was interested in this authors research and analysis of their roles as fathers. Although there were a few interviews with the children of presidents and some insight based on journals and letters,most of the book was based on the research and books already published. In addition, it is not very well written; categorizing the presidents into "Tiger Dads," "Nurturers," etc made it a bit confusing. I struggled to finish it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ian yarington

    I honestly thought I wouldn't like this book or that it would take a politically partisan approach but I was pleasantly surprised. It did talk about governance but from a largely non partisan angle and it always related it to the parenting. It's pretty neat to look at these men for the family men they were instead of the important job of POTUS. I honestly thought I wouldn't like this book or that it would take a politically partisan approach but I was pleasantly surprised. It did talk about governance but from a largely non partisan angle and it always related it to the parenting. It's pretty neat to look at these men for the family men they were instead of the important job of POTUS.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary Katherine

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book! it gave me a perspective on the presidents which I never had before. the book was always interesting, sometimes funny, and sometimes heartbreaking. The book is organized thematically (according to parenting styles) and not chronologically. This makes it a little confusing at times, but it is still a wonderful and timely (in an election year) read!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Ferrari

    An interesting take on several of the US Presidents as fathers and how their parenting trends mirrored their governing style. While interesting, I found the book dragged at times. Spoiler alert - there is not necessarily a correlation between an effective father and an effective president.

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