Citizen-in-Chief: The Second Lives of the American Presidents

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9780061244964: Citizen-in-Chief: The Second Lives of the American Presidents

“[A] remarkably revealing history....This well-researched, opinionated account does a fine job of filling a surprisingly empty historical niche.”
Publishers Weekly

 

Citizen-in-Chief, The Second Lives of the American Presidents, is a smartly researched, surprising, often witty, and always revealing look at former presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush. Authors Leonard Benardo and Jennifer Weiss offer readers entertaining true stories of the radical turns, provocative rehabilitations, and tragic trajectories of presidential lives after the White House. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen calls Citizen-in-Chief, “an engrossing book, Benardo and Weiss tell a fascinating tale,” and he properly states that where our nation’s leaders went after leading is often “more interesting than the presidency itself.”

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From the Back Cover:

"The American presidency . . . is merely a way station en route to the blessed condition of being an ex-president."
—John Updike

The presidency is a captivating concept in the hearts and minds of the American people. Part commander-in-chief, part national symbol, the role of president of the United States of America has been studied and commemorated by a rich trove of literature—in fiction and nonfiction, in serious political analysis and lighthearted satire. Yet despite the vast scholarship available, the lives of our presidents after leaving office remain remarkably unprobed. In Citizen-in-Chief, Leonard Benardo and Jennifer Weiss reveal that the true stories of these great leaders, whose quest for power brought them to the country’s highest office, are rarely complete once they leave the White House.

Now, as another president strides uncertainly toward the sunset, Citizen-in-Chief examines the dramatic, little-known, and often heart-rending postpresidential lives of former Oval Office occupants. It offers the most in-depth look to date at the diverse and broad-ranging paths these famous—sometimes notorious—men have taken:

  • Destitute at his death, fifth president James Monroe was buried in New York, too poor to be transported to his native Virginia.
  • After ending Reconstruction and removing Union troops from the South during his single-term presidency, Rutherford B. Hayes went on to crusade for universal education on behalf of African Americans.
  • Known for "Hoovervilles" and not heroics during the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover spent his postpresidential years orchestrating overseas relief work.
  • After a middling presidency, John Quincy Adams reinvented himself as a progressive member of Congress, spending seventeen years as a significant antislavery advocate.
  • After his lone term in office, William Howard Taft went on to advocate peace-building efforts through international arbitration during World War I and later ascended to the position of chief justice of the Supreme Court.
  • Following a centrist presidency and a farewell address decrying the military-industrial complex, Dwight Eisenhower covertly counseled and prodded Lyndon B. Johnson to bring troops into North Vietnam.

From the high-profile humanitarianism of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton to the quiet achievements of Rutherford B. Hayes and Herbert Hoover, Citizen-in-Chief is a surprising and thoughtful must-read for political junkies and history buffs alike.

About the Author:

Leonard Benardo and Jennifer Weiss are husband and wife and the coauthors of Brooklyn by Name. Their writing has been published in The New York Review of Books, New York Times, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, and elsewhere. They live in Brooklyn, New York, with their son and daughter.



Leonard Benardo and Jennifer Weiss are husband and wife and the coauthors of Brooklyn by Name. Their writing has been published in The New York Review of Books, New York Times, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, and elsewhere. They live in Brooklyn, New York, with their son and daughter.

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