(The official quiz that you, the reader, should take right now to determine if you need this book)How many vice presidents went on to become president? How many sitting presidents died or were forced from office? How many vice presidents shot men while in office? Who was the better shot? Who was the first vice president to assume power when a president died? Why did he return official letters without reading them? What vice president was almost torn limb form limb in Venezuela? Which former VP was tried for treason for trying to start his own empire in the Southwest? How many vice presidents were assassinated? In the next presidential election, should you worry about the candidates for vice president?
(Bonus challenge: For extra points, name the men that the vice presidents shot!)
See answers below. No cheating!
The vice presidency isn't worth "a bucket of warm spit"
That's the prudish version of what John Nance Garner had to say about the office--several years after serving as VP under FDR. Was he right?
The vice presidency is one of America's most historically complicated, intriguing, and underappreciated public offices. And Jeremy Lott's sweeping, hilarious, and insightful history introduces readers to the unusual and sometimes shadowy cast of characters that have occupied it:Aaron Burr, the only VP tried for treason John Tyler, president without a party Andrew Johnson, defiant drunkard Thomas Marshall, who should have been president Richard Nixon, underdog and daredevil Gerald Ford, icon of the 1970s Al Gore, the most frustrated man in America And, of course, the real Dick Cheney
With crisp prose, Lott focuses on their bitter rivalries and rank ambitions, their glorious victories and tragic setbacks. At the end of hundreds of historical vignettes, interviews, and pilgrimages to obscure places, Lott concludes that the vice presidency is an invaluable political institution that tends to frustrate the ambitions of America's most ambitious politicans--an ungainly launch pad for future political success and a drunk tank for those who would imbibe too deeply of power.
Answers to Quiz!Fourteen of the forty-three presidents were vice president It's happened eight times so far Aaron Burr and Dick Cheney Aaron Burr John Tyler Because he insisted on being called "president," not "vice president" or "acting president" Richard Nixon Aaron Burr (him again!) None, though an assassin was hired to kill Andrew Johnson See answers one and two and then ask yourself, "Does America feel lucky?"
Answers to bonus challenge: Alexander Hamilton and Harry Whittington
0-4 You are a novice who should probably buy this book
5-8 You are a history buff who should love this book
9-12 You are a smart cookie who should appear on Jeopardy--and buy this book for show prep
John Adams famously called the vice presidency, the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived. Harry Truman called it, about as useful as a cow's fifth teat. How things have changed in a world where many consider Vice President Dick Cheney the most powerful figure in the current administration.
Since 1960 the office of the vice presidency of the United States has evolved into a fundamentally different institution than the one the founders envisioned, attracting better-qualified aspirants who may be called upon to perform a variety of important tasks. No longer a ceremonial figurehead or legislative drudge, the vice president today consults closely with the president and plays an important role in executive decisions. Those who are chosen as running mates are examined more thoroughly than ever before, not merely for the boost they might give the presidential candidate in the general election, but also for the kind of president they might be if fate called upon them to serve.
In a book that is as readable as it is fascinating, Baumgartner offers a corrective to the overwhelmingly negative view Americans have had of their vice presidents by demonstrating how the role has changed over time. Setting the stage with a visit to the Constitutional Convention and a brief look at pre-modern vice presidents, he examines the 19 men and one woman who have been vice presidents or candidates for the office since 1960. His insightful book is organized thematically according to the career path of the vice president-from the selection process through the campaign and nomination to election, service in office, and post-White House contributions.
Because most of these vice presidents are virtually forgotten today and yet were very prominent and important figures in their time, I have subtitled the book: “Our Forgotten Leaders.” In each biographical sketch, the reader will learn about the childhood and youth of the subject, his educational background, his marraige and family life, his career before becoming vice president, his vicepresidency and his life after leaving office.
In the 200-plus years of our nation’s history, the presidency has grown and evolved dramatically. With the exception of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson, the nineteenth-century office holders exerted little executive power and mostly deferred to Congress on domestic affairs. Teddy Roosevelt began to change all that, and FDR completed the transformation with his New Deal, laying the foundations for the modern presidency. With the onset of the Cold War, the “imperial” presidency was in full bloom, and after a brief lull, the government’s response to the war on terror has given the office new and unprecedented powers. Undoubtedly now the presidency is not only the most powerful and important job in the United States, but arguably in the world.
Presidents’ Most Wanted™ celebrates the office, the people who inhabited it, and the process of winning it, with thirty-five chapters packed full of all sorts of presidential trivia. It covers everything from elections to first ladies to blunders and triumphs, and gives the reader an in-depth look at the most powerful person in the world.
Thomas's book offers a wealth of advice, quotations, and anecdotes that are pertinent to any up-and-coming young man or woman. Which strategies for advancement are effective and which are doomed to fail? Which personal traits should be emulated and which are detrimental? Presidential candidates have learned the answers the hard way, earning the education of a lifetime in the gritty, cutthroat arena of national politics, a field as competitive as any to be found in corporate America. And now, for the first time, their valuable knowledge will be made available to ambitious executives and eager students across the country. Readers will learn the seven time-tested steps that can transform a would-be chief executive or U.S. President into the real thing: Decide upon your long-term goal. Develop your skills and interests. Polish your image and your people skills. Organize a network of mentors and helpers. Control your inner demons and your opponents. Maneuver to improve your position. Succeed with grace and serenity.
In this book, readers will follow the career paths of famous American politicians. There have been smart presidents and unintelligent ones, honest and dishonest ones, diligent and lazy ones. But all of these master politicians have remarkably different skills and personalities but had one thing in common. They all followed the same seven-step career plan detailed in Advice from the Presidents. And so can any ambitious person in any walk of life.
Kincade's primary focus is on the two vice presidents who ascended to the presidency, Martin Van Buren and George Bush. He explores how these two were able to avoid the dilemma that baffled the others. Was it something in their backgrounds that brought success? Was it serving as vice president under Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan that helped turn the trick? Could their successes be seen as fulfilling an historical cycle that found Van Buren and Bush in the right place at the right time? In the last section of this intriguing study, Kincade uses political science models to explain their victories and offers a guide to future vice presidents who attempt to join the exclusive club of vice presidents to reach the presidency. Scholars, students, and the general public interested in American political history and the presidency will find this study of particular value.
Here, from American Heritage, is the story of our presidents. From George Washington’s reluctant oath-taking through George W. Bush’s leadership challenges after September 11, 2001, we view ambitious and fallible men through the new lens of the twenty-first century. Where did they succeed? Where did they fail? And what do we know now that we could not have known at the time?