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Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House

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entertaining and illuminating--The Washington Post ...lively accounts....This engrossing book [is] Highly recommended for public libraries.--Library Journal for those interested in the former presidents, this popular history will do the trick.-- Publishers Weekly ...revealing in detail and context--Kirkus Reviews   Mark K. Updegroves Second Acts is a smart and provocative look …entertaining and illuminating…--The Washington Post ...lively accounts....This engrossing book [is] Highly recommended for public libraries.--Library Journal …for those interested in the former presidents, this popular history will do the trick.-- Publishers Weekly ...revealing in detail and context--Kirkus Reviews   Mark K. Updegrove’s Second Acts is a smart and provocative look at the most exclusive club in America – ex-presidents. Highly recommended! —Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History and Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Tulane University


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entertaining and illuminating--The Washington Post ...lively accounts....This engrossing book [is] Highly recommended for public libraries.--Library Journal for those interested in the former presidents, this popular history will do the trick.-- Publishers Weekly ...revealing in detail and context--Kirkus Reviews   Mark K. Updegroves Second Acts is a smart and provocative look …entertaining and illuminating…--The Washington Post ...lively accounts....This engrossing book [is] Highly recommended for public libraries.--Library Journal …for those interested in the former presidents, this popular history will do the trick.-- Publishers Weekly ...revealing in detail and context--Kirkus Reviews   Mark K. Updegrove’s Second Acts is a smart and provocative look at the most exclusive club in America – ex-presidents. Highly recommended! —Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History and Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Tulane University

30 review for Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fran Johnson

    This is an awesome book. Beginning with Harry Truman through Bill Clinton, the author writes about the Presidents after they left office. Their accomplishments, how they worked with each other, and their legacies make for interesting and truthfully, inspiring reading. I felt very happy when reading this book and then it dawned on me, Updegrove shows how even former enemies can become friends and partner to do good things. He also shows how men who were at the height of success (as President) can This is an awesome book. Beginning with Harry Truman through Bill Clinton, the author writes about the Presidents after they left office. Their accomplishments, how they worked with each other, and their legacies make for interesting and truthfully, inspiring reading. I felt very happy when reading this book and then it dawned on me, Updegrove shows how even former enemies can become friends and partner to do good things. He also shows how men who were at the height of success (as President) can then retire from the presidency and rise to even greater glory...or find great happiness outside the spotlight of their former job.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    **#62 of 120 books pledged to read during 2017**

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Logan-Reynolds

    3.5 stars! I dont read many political books, yet I could barely put it down. Definitely an engaging book. 3.5 stars! I don’t read many political books, yet I could barely put it down. Definitely an engaging book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Travis McClain

    Living in the era of Jimmy Carter, Global Peacemaker and the Bush/Clinton fundraisers I'd become curious about the lives of presidents out of office. This book was mentioned in one episode of the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast, and shortly thereafter I promptly found a copy at Half Price Books. My three-star rating would suggest that I wasn't wholly satisfied with it and that's true. Much of the material covered by author Updegrove was familiar to me already. Yes, I'm more acutely Living in the era of Jimmy Carter, Global Peacemaker and the Bush/Clinton fundraisers I'd become curious about the lives of presidents out of office. This book was mentioned in one episode of the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast, and shortly thereafter I promptly found a copy at Half Price Books. My three-star rating would suggest that I wasn't wholly satisfied with it and that's true. Much of the material covered by author Updegrove was familiar to me already. Yes, I'm more acutely interested in the subject material than the average person might be but I also suspect that much of the content would be familiar to anyone who's spent time in a doctor's office waiting room, perusing back issues of Newsweek. Second Acts is largely just a synthesis of presidential memoirs and press coverage. I also found Updegrove's chapters largely formulaic. Each begins with that president's final day leaving office, staring into the unknown, followed by a brief survey of his life and time in office. Then follows a similar study of the former first lady, and back to the president for a review of how he eventually settled on a direction for his post-presidential life. Sometimes material is repeated from chapter to chapter, which is understandable given that the careers of these men often brought them together--or into opposition, but it does make subsequent accounts of these incidents rather dry. More egregious is the frequency with which Updegrove's biographies of the first ladies repeats material already covered in the same chapter. Most glaring is his chapter on the Reagans; there is an entire paragraph about Mrs. Reagan that unnecessarily reminds us of their courtship and the sequence of the birth of their children just a few pages after we were already told these things in the bio of President Reagan. Also, I despise end notes. I prefer to be able to see at a glance where information was found, and any expanded remarks the author may have. Fortunately (and perhaps tellingly), there are no such remarks to be found; merely a running list of the sources mined for information. Following the end notes is a bibliography which may be of interest for presidential enthusiasts and scholars, and an index. As for the material itself, I found Updegrove's writing easy to read; even those with only a passing interest in the presidents should find it accessible. Updegrove eschews detail in favor of distillation. I found the chapters on Mr. Reagan and President George H.W. Bush particularly noteworthy. Mr. Reagan's deteriorating health makes for touching reading; those of us who have been fortunate to be spared that experience in our own families know that it can arise without notice. Mr. Bush, on the other hand, is humanized by his ability to walk away entirely from politics and concentrate almost exclusively on himself and his family. Anyone who has ever seen a retiree grateful for the chance to finally begin living for himself after years of sacrifice should be able to connect with our forty first president. Lastly, I would say that anyone who thinks that there is some kind of shared, collective mindset shared by politicians (you know, "they all...") should take the time to sit down with Second Acts. The nine presidents covered here (Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton) each had his own ambitions, motivations and conflicts. They didn't all get along, even out of office. Second Acts may not be the most detailed account of these post-presidencies but it's certainly a solid primer for those who may be curious.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    The book is the only one the I'm aware of to really look at the strange position that former presidents hold. I've long been fascinated by the lives they've led after they left the White House, particularly Nixon (I could read a whole book about his post-presidency) and George H.W. Bush. Unfortunately, the book was good in places, but disappointing in others. The author seems not to be a serious historian and his claim to journalism fame was being the publisher of Newsweek, the LA manager of The book is the only one the I'm aware of to really look at the strange position that former presidents hold. I've long been fascinated by the lives they've led after they left the White House, particularly Nixon (I could read a whole book about his post-presidency) and George H.W. Bush. Unfortunately, the book was good in places, but disappointing in others. The author seems not to be a serious historian and his claim to journalism fame was being the publisher of Newsweek, the LA manager of Time and the president of Time Canada. This lack of journalistic training comes though in his embarrassing fawning over Ronald Reagan especially. It also contains some unnerving typos, like when it says former President Truman heard Kennedy had been killed on Nov. 20, instead of Nov. 22.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Mandell

    Before Truman, presidents received no pension from the government. Now, they get $186,000 a year, plus Secret Service protection, plus office expenses, etc. But that's just base pay for perks from the private sector. Reagan got $2 million for eight days of public appearances in Japan. Clinton made $10 million in 2006 from speeches. This book goes chapter by chapter from Truman to Clinton, and, while a clip-and-paste job and not that terrifically written, there are worthwhile tidbits. Nixon spent Before Truman, presidents received no pension from the government. Now, they get $186,000 a year, plus Secret Service protection, plus office expenses, etc. But that's just base pay for perks from the private sector. Reagan got $2 million for eight days of public appearances in Japan. Clinton made $10 million in 2006 from speeches. This book goes chapter by chapter from Truman to Clinton, and, while a clip-and-paste job and not that terrifically written, there are worthwhile tidbits. Nixon spent 20 years rehabilitating his image after he resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal, and by the time he died, he had succeeded.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Eh. I'm a presidential history dork, and in that regard I really enjoyed reading this book. Wonderful factoids--my two favorites were LBJ's hippie hairstyle post-presidency and Hillary's initial hitting on Bill in the Yale School library--but the writing is so sloppy that it makes this book a lot harder to recommend. The anecdotes from one chapter/presidency bleed into the next. Word choice is sloppy. It's a 4 star for information and 2-star for writing quality.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    This book reinforced what I already thought, that what ex-presidents do after their presidential term matters greatly. The services and agendas they pursue can be of great importance to the world. The author did a great job catching the essence of each presidents "second act" which made me wish (and sad) President Kennedy could have be afforded this as well. Easy read and entertaining.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Very Interesting

  10. 4 out of 5

    Renee Harrison

    Great read. Fascinating about a subject not often explored. Well researched, well written.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Great, quick backgroun on post-presidential careers!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marc

  13. 4 out of 5

    Steven Hartman

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gerhardt Lachnitt

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ariadna

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ed Dorsey

  18. 4 out of 5

    William Downs

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Fair

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kim Isada

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Costigan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

  24. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Eagle

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  27. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

  28. 5 out of 5

    Skip

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elliot Perkins

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ademide

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