Wisdom from the Oval Office

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9781933909493: Wisdom from the Oval Office

This is the first comprehensive book that reveals how America's presidents weighed in on major issues, such as honesty, love, commitment, evil, tyranny, freedom, etc. Speakers, writers, and students of all ages will find this a must-have addition to their libraries. The quotes are offered in multiple locations, so that readers can use them for a variety of references. Such cross-referencing gives the reader ease and flexibility in locating and using these fascinating insights into America's past and present heads of state. The author has revealed the broad sweep of life that engaged our country's leaders and reflects how their quotations are as relevant today as they were when originally given.

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About the Author:

Pierce Word was born in Chicago and completed his BA in Middle Eastern Studies at the American University in Cairo. Upon returning to the States, he pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago, as well as Boston University. Over a 3 year period, he researched and cross-referenced speeches, letters and diaries of the American presidents, and compiled a collection of presidential quotations, the largest published collection to date. He currently lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Review:

This evidence that there is indeed nothing new under the political sun is but one of many pleasurable and informative revelations that will reward readers of Pierce Word s masterful compendium of U.S. presidential utterances from George Washington to Barack Obama. Because the author s own voice is heard only in a slightly mushy introduction and acknowledgment section at the end, this book must be evaluated in terms of his editorial and organizational choices, and so judged, the book is a superb accomplishment. The quotations are arranged according to 40 themes, presented alphabetically, and within each thematic category, they are presented chronologically. The latter arrangement is particularly valuable as it enables the reader to appreciate how presidential perspective on a particular subject has evolved over the years. Perhaps the greatest compliment one can pay to this book is that it demonstrates that U.S. presidents are, despite their exalted office, human beings, and as such are capable of uttering statements that are both trite and profound, poetic and pedantic, conventional and iconoclastic, pompous and self-deprecating, and inspirationally comedic and yawn producing. Examples would be inadvisable because they would make this review much too long, and more unfortunately, would detract from the pleasure that readers will surely find in discovering these contrasting characteristics for themselves. Occasionally, one president s quotation will cause closer scrutiny of another s. For example, JFK s injunction about what to ask and not to ask of government (which was expressed less succinctly by Warren Harding in both 1916 and 1921) is almost universally revered; however, when viewed in the light of other presidential statements about the citizen-state relationship, it sounds almost totalitarian. Author Word is extremely even handed in dealing with the great and lesser presidents. I was surprised to learn not only that Chester Arthur had prophetic views on privacy but also that he had once been president of the United States. It s also fascinating to see how some presidents can be not only in conflict with each other (is the Constitution an unshaken rock or marvelously elastic ?) but also self contradictory, often depending on the audiences they re addressing. And thanks to the earthy Lyndon Johnson, even vulgarity is represented. The research involved in producing this book is formidable. The sources range from ceremonial utterances to informal asides that are close to pillow talk. And speaking of pillow talk, the quotations show that politics can indeed produce strange bedfellows with notorious religionists saying things that Madelyn Murray O Hare would be happy to claim and equally prominent collectivists paying inadvertent tribute to the ideas of their intellectual nemesis, Ayn Rand. There are rewards in the book even for the language police. For example, given the contemporary struggle to convince writers that criteria is plural, it is fascinating to see that some of our past world leaders had difficulty with the notion that criterion is singular. Even the great John Adams had a problem with noun/pronoun disagreement and either Thomas Jefferson or this book s editor fell into the its/it s trap. For anyone interested in savoring the full range of presidential statements as a means of acquiring a fuller understanding of this country s past glories and contemporary challenges, this book is surely required reading. --Gordon Osmond, Bookpleasures.com

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