The American Presidents: Biographies of Our Chief Executives

by Braden

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My Thoughts

Key insights:

  1. The POTUS role was the weakest branch of government to begin with, has often been at odds with Congress, and increasingly accumulating power.
  2. Most POTUS’s don’t make big changes to our society, those who do move things towards “liberal” values that support individuals over businesses, combat corruption, and create a more equality and inclusiveness.
  3. A surprising number of people who become POTUS grew up poor.

This is a great read in order to understand how the role of POTUS has evolved, what each person has contributed, and their personal journey to the office. Each POTUS is a short chapter of ~10 pages covering their background story, election, time in the role, and post-POTUS life. You begin to see a pattern emerge of POTUS’s rise to the role to fight problems in the governing system to make people’s lives closer to “life liberty, and pursuit of happiness” while others are more a creature of the system often preserving business and political interests at the expense of the general public. Strangely the biggest accumulations of power are by those fighting for the people (e.g. FDR). It’s also interesting to learn quirks of our history. For example, Chester A. Arthur (21st POTUS) was never elected, Virginia and Ohio produced the most POTUS’s, and more than 10% of POTUS’s died in office. Reading this book will help you better understand the role, our history, and become a better informed voting citizen.

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