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All the Presidents' Children: Triumph and Tragedy in the Lives of America's First Families

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From Abigail "Nabby" Adams to Barbara and Jenna Bush, George Washington Adams to John F. Kennedy, Jr., the children of America's presidents have both suffered and triumphed under the watchful eyes of their powerful fathers and the glare of the ever-changing public. Many, like the children of William Henry Harrison and Andrew Johnson, writhed under the pressure and fought b From Abigail "Nabby" Adams to Barbara and Jenna Bush, George Washington Adams to John F. Kennedy, Jr., the children of America's presidents have both suffered and triumphed under the watchful eyes of their powerful fathers and the glare of the ever-changing public. Many, like the children of William Henry Harrison and Andrew Johnson, writhed under the pressure and fought bitter battles with alcoholism and depression only to die young. Others, like Robert Todd Lincoln, Margaret Truman, and Helen Taft Manning, used the privileges granted them to achieve their own success in the worlds of politics, business, and academia. All, however, had to cope with the entirely unique experience of sharing their fathers with the country that called them to leadership and living a life worthy of their place in history. Combining twenty years of study with never-before-published letters and personal accounts from presidential children, Doug Wead has produced a remarkable and authoritative analysis of the extraordinary people born to American presidents throughout history. Stories of outstanding presidential daughters; the eight weddings performed in the White House and what later happened in the marriages; tales of the real and rumored illegitimate children ofthe presidents; a list of presidential children who pursued politics and the five who were almost president themselves; examples of how the pressures of being a celebrity child interrupt the normal desire for intimacy and personal identity; biographies of living presidential children and where they are now -- these are just a few of the historical gems unearthed. Both an entertaining lesson on our nation's history, a study of theproblems and solutions of high-achieving parents, and a fascinating look at the father-son dynamics of the current White House, "All the Presidents' Children" is a must-read for anyone interested in America's most high-profile pedigree.


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From Abigail "Nabby" Adams to Barbara and Jenna Bush, George Washington Adams to John F. Kennedy, Jr., the children of America's presidents have both suffered and triumphed under the watchful eyes of their powerful fathers and the glare of the ever-changing public. Many, like the children of William Henry Harrison and Andrew Johnson, writhed under the pressure and fought b From Abigail "Nabby" Adams to Barbara and Jenna Bush, George Washington Adams to John F. Kennedy, Jr., the children of America's presidents have both suffered and triumphed under the watchful eyes of their powerful fathers and the glare of the ever-changing public. Many, like the children of William Henry Harrison and Andrew Johnson, writhed under the pressure and fought bitter battles with alcoholism and depression only to die young. Others, like Robert Todd Lincoln, Margaret Truman, and Helen Taft Manning, used the privileges granted them to achieve their own success in the worlds of politics, business, and academia. All, however, had to cope with the entirely unique experience of sharing their fathers with the country that called them to leadership and living a life worthy of their place in history. Combining twenty years of study with never-before-published letters and personal accounts from presidential children, Doug Wead has produced a remarkable and authoritative analysis of the extraordinary people born to American presidents throughout history. Stories of outstanding presidential daughters; the eight weddings performed in the White House and what later happened in the marriages; tales of the real and rumored illegitimate children ofthe presidents; a list of presidential children who pursued politics and the five who were almost president themselves; examples of how the pressures of being a celebrity child interrupt the normal desire for intimacy and personal identity; biographies of living presidential children and where they are now -- these are just a few of the historical gems unearthed. Both an entertaining lesson on our nation's history, a study of theproblems and solutions of high-achieving parents, and a fascinating look at the father-son dynamics of the current White House, "All the Presidents' Children" is a must-read for anyone interested in America's most high-profile pedigree.

30 review for All the Presidents' Children: Triumph and Tragedy in the Lives of America's First Families

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book was fairly well written, and I learned a lot about presidential children that I didn't know. Here's why I didn't give it a higher rating: When approaching a book of this type, which is basically just scores of biographies, it can be handled one of two ways: chronologically, or with people grouped in areas of commonality. Doug Wead chose the second option, which made the book more interesting in some ways, but it also caused repetition, which was a little confusing. Also, there was too This book was fairly well written, and I learned a lot about presidential children that I didn't know. Here's why I didn't give it a higher rating: When approaching a book of this type, which is basically just scores of biographies, it can be handled one of two ways: chronologically, or with people grouped in areas of commonality. Doug Wead chose the second option, which made the book more interesting in some ways, but it also caused repetition, which was a little confusing. Also, there was too much time spent on modern presidential children, and not as much space devoted to those of the past. There were several appendices in the back that helped sort out some of the confusion. I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't as easy of a read as I thought it would be.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    Interesting historical accounts of president's sons and some daughters and the pressures of living of up to a legend. Same could probably be said for offspring of all celebrities & high-profile corp execs. Interesting historical accounts of president's sons and some daughters and the pressures of living of up to a legend. Same could probably be said for offspring of all celebrities & high-profile corp execs.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Having just watched the Historical HBO series on John Adams, I think back to when i finished this book last year. The stories of incredible sacrifice and expectations were all more vivid. A great read for anyone who appreciates what it might be like having a US President in your family

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Rick

    I could have done without the homage to the Bush "dynasty," but overall I enjoyed this book. There were so many fascinating stories of the first families and the struggles they faced. A recommended read for any history buff. I could have done without the homage to the Bush "dynasty," but overall I enjoyed this book. There were so many fascinating stories of the first families and the struggles they faced. A recommended read for any history buff.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Debra Rubin

    The facts in this book are fascinating. I enjoyed the book, although I will probably not retain much of what I read. For people that love history, this book will appeal to them.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Great book for learning more about presidents and their families.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marmie

    This book is one of the most revealing of Presidential families. It puts flesh, blood, and emotions to those we have longed to know. Outstanding Book!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    This book is a fascinating look into the lives of the offspring of US Presidents. What surprised me most was that a vast majority of Presidential children suffered in different ways for having been under the big glass dome that is the White House. A few children, of course, prospered and went on to lead amazing and full lives. Some used their notariety to further causes they believed in. Many, however, never found their own identity outside of the "offspring" of their fathers, and some turned to a This book is a fascinating look into the lives of the offspring of US Presidents. What surprised me most was that a vast majority of Presidential children suffered in different ways for having been under the big glass dome that is the White House. A few children, of course, prospered and went on to lead amazing and full lives. Some used their notariety to further causes they believed in. Many, however, never found their own identity outside of the "offspring" of their fathers, and some turned to alcohol, drugs, and various other forms of self destruction. The book includes quite a number of photographs (which I especially enjoyed) and stories on each of the children. It was an interesting and eye-opening read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Very interesting read as it delves into the family life of Presidents. The author definitely has a theory that the majority of these children are cursed to end up trying to out achieve or out-run (in alcoholism, etc.) their father's legacy. I skipped some of this discussion for the actual life descriptions and also disliked how short other children's paragraphs were (usually the more modern or normal lives) as if this was unremarkable or we were supposed to know about them so he skipped the assu Very interesting read as it delves into the family life of Presidents. The author definitely has a theory that the majority of these children are cursed to end up trying to out achieve or out-run (in alcoholism, etc.) their father's legacy. I skipped some of this discussion for the actual life descriptions and also disliked how short other children's paragraphs were (usually the more modern or normal lives) as if this was unremarkable or we were supposed to know about them so he skipped the assumptions of the historical reasoning used for other children. But all together an interesting read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I really enjoyed learning about American history through the perspective of the presidential children. The format was much more interesting than your typical chronological order. The author is affilated with Ron Paul and is a member of the Constitutional party, so he is pretty well grounded in his views. A very interesitng, informative book - a warning, some parts can be a bit dry... : )

  11. 4 out of 5

    Doreen

    An interesting read about the presidents and their families. So many stories that I had never heard before, from the tragedies of Franklin Pierce and Calvin Coolidge, to the antics of the Theodore Roosevelt family. Each chapter was a new story. An easy read for those interested in American history.

  12. 4 out of 5

    jane

    Interesting biographies of presidential children. Relentlessly positive writing about those still alive. More objective writing about those no longer with us. Some interesting insights about family relationships.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    A good reminder that our politicians are just people with lives that mirror the rest of us. They seem bigger than life but suffer all the pains the rest of us do. Maybe more so.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    It was interesting to read about the families of our presidents: lots of triumphs and lots of tragedies.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sara Shefchik

    4/5: This book was educational and interesting. Wead elected to group commonalities together by chapter rather than chronological so sometimes I got confused. However, I really enjoyed the common threads: children that suffered, children that persevered and found their own success, children that followed in their own presidential fathers’ political footsteps. I learned that presidential son Robert Taft is one of the top 5 senators in the history of this country. I was endeared by the words of on 4/5: This book was educational and interesting. Wead elected to group commonalities together by chapter rather than chronological so sometimes I got confused. However, I really enjoyed the common threads: children that suffered, children that persevered and found their own success, children that followed in their own presidential fathers’ political footsteps. I learned that presidential son Robert Taft is one of the top 5 senators in the history of this country. I was endeared by the words of one of our modern presidents: “win or lose, older or younger, we have our family. I’ll be surrounded by love so what else counts?” These president’s children and grandchildren would go on to be some of the most successful (and least messed up!) of all.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    Chock full of lots of great information. I really found so much of it interesting. However, the author had a very strong bias and it shone through quite clearly throughout the book. It got rather tiresome after a while. For example, when he suggested that a certain presidential daughter lied about being abused by her mother, his only evidence being that the accused reacted to the allegation with so much public decorum, I could not have rolled my eyes any harder. Also, the book isn't structured we Chock full of lots of great information. I really found so much of it interesting. However, the author had a very strong bias and it shone through quite clearly throughout the book. It got rather tiresome after a while. For example, when he suggested that a certain presidential daughter lied about being abused by her mother, his only evidence being that the accused reacted to the allegation with so much public decorum, I could not have rolled my eyes any harder. Also, the book isn't structured well.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    A little too much analysis of statistics and speculation of personalities and family dynamics. Also, a few historical errors (describes a president's son who went to England to negotiate with the "king" during the Civil War - he actually negotiated with PRINCE Albert). Written during GW Bush's first term, there's a lot of comparison of the father and son presidents. However, a lot of good research and organization utilized. A little too much analysis of statistics and speculation of personalities and family dynamics. Also, a few historical errors (describes a president's son who went to England to negotiate with the "king" during the Civil War - he actually negotiated with PRINCE Albert). Written during GW Bush's first term, there's a lot of comparison of the father and son presidents. However, a lot of good research and organization utilized.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Linda Wallace

    Lots of interesting information and fascinating facts. Two things I found problematic- the way the book was set up and the homage to the Bush dynasty at the end. The chapters were set up in such a way that some of the sons and daughters were highlighted in more than one and it was a it confusing.

  19. 4 out of 5

    David Pierce

    I enjoy reading Presidential history. I cannot imagine the undertaking this was for Wead. Let me say, thank you. This is masterfully done. It is not disjointed but masterfully woven together. It was enjoyment on every page. I learned things I did not know. I highly recommend.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Andersen

    A really insightful glimpse into the lives of presidential children.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rick Vickers

    Great book many interesting facts

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Kloda

    I found "All the Presidents' Children", by Doug Wead to be an interesting and informative book. The author covers both past and present Presidential Families. Both Democrat and Republican Presidents were represented. Doug Wead shows that there are both advantages and disadvantages to being a President's offspring. Some of these children became alcoholics as adults. Others were emotionally stronger and achieved greatness on their own. I personally felt The White House was not the best place to r I found "All the Presidents' Children", by Doug Wead to be an interesting and informative book. The author covers both past and present Presidential Families. Both Democrat and Republican Presidents were represented. Doug Wead shows that there are both advantages and disadvantages to being a President's offspring. Some of these children became alcoholics as adults. Others were emotionally stronger and achieved greatness on their own. I personally felt The White House was not the best place to raise a young child. It is like living in a Goldfish Bowl. In addition, being a President requires a lot of time away from the family. Having a nurturing mother and other relatives can be very important. Different Parenting styles were also shown throughout this book. All in all, I felt I had a better understand of what it means to be a President's child.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Candys

    I found it amazing the similarity of difficulties presidential families go through. The children of these men seem to crumble under the pressure to live up to their father. Sons seem to turn to alcohol in staggering numbers and daughters seem to run to the arms of the wrong kind of men, and stack on the failed marriages. It is also sad to see that it seems imposible for these predidential fathers to have strong loving relationships with their children.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    In his first book, he shows the presidents of the US mostly had terrible, abusive childhoods. Yet, in this book he shows they didn't do much better with their own children. I liked this one better than The Raising of a President, it was much better written. It'll be interesting to see if his predictions about Chelsea Clinton outshining her parents come true. In his first book, he shows the presidents of the US mostly had terrible, abusive childhoods. Yet, in this book he shows they didn't do much better with their own children. I liked this one better than The Raising of a President, it was much better written. It'll be interesting to see if his predictions about Chelsea Clinton outshining her parents come true.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pmarlin

    I really disliked the organization of the book. I found it confusing, and all of the stories about the presidential children ran together. I would have much preferred the book to have been written in chronological order.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Rather disheartening account of the various progeny; most of them were unable to live up to fathers' expectations, many died young, some committed suicide... Rather disheartening account of the various progeny; most of them were unable to live up to fathers' expectations, many died young, some committed suicide...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael Wilson

    Interesting but nothing new. The man loves GW Bush. Needed better editing

  28. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne Crawford

    Wonderful book and touching book

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Too dry and a bit to one-sided for my taste.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    An interesting look at the lives of the children of the American presidents.

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