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Accidental Presidents

Eight Men Who Changed America
Narrated by: Arthur Morey
Length: 16 hrs and 57 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (65 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The strength and prestige of the American presidency has waxed and waned since George Washington. Accidental Presidents looks at eight men who came to the office without being elected to it. It demonstrates how the character of the man in that powerful seat affects the nation and world.

Eight men have succeeded to the presidency when the incumbent died in office. In one way or another, they vastly changed our history. Only Theodore Roosevelt would have been elected in his own right. Only TR, Coolidge, Truman, and LBJ were reelected.

John Tyler succeeded William Henry Harrison, who died 30 days into his term. He was kicked out of his party and became the first president threatened with impeachment. 

Millard Fillmore succeeded esteemed General Zachary Taylor. He immediately sacked the entire cabinet and delayed an inevitable Civil War by standing with Henry Clay’s compromise of 1850. 

Chester Arthur, the embodiment of the spoils system, was so reviled as James Garfield’s successor that he had to defend himself against plotting Garfield’s assassination; but he reformed the civil service. 

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded our greatest president, sided with remnants of the Confederacy in Reconstruction. 

Theodore Roosevelt broke up the trusts. 

Calvin Coolidge silently cooled down the Harding scandals and preserved the White House for the Republican Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression. 

Truman surprised everybody when he succeeded the great FDR and proved an able and accomplished president. 

Lyndon B. Johnson was named to deliver Texas electorally. He led the nation forward on civil rights but failed on Vietnam.

Accidental Presidents adds immeasurably to our understanding of the power and limits of the American presidency in critical times.

©2019 Jared Cohen (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

LOVE LOVE LOVE this book

Not only was the content dynamite-- but the writing is just as great. As a POTUS fanatic (especially of the obscure chiefs like Tyler, Taylor, Johnson, Arthur etc), there isn't much I haven't heard/read about the presidents-- but Jared Cohen certainly mined deep enough to find a few wonderful nuggets of which I was hitherto unaware.

HOWEVER, as a fellow POTUS fanatic, I must point out a few mistakes:

• Regarding Tyler’s second wife, the author writes: “at 24, Julia became the youngest First Lady in American history— a title she will likely retain...” yet that was proven wrong as she ceased to retain said title in 1886 when Frances Folsom Cleveland became the youngest First Lady at 21 yrs old.

• The author mentioned that since Woodrow Wilson’s stroke left him unable to move significant potions on his face, he grew a mustache and beard for the first time in his life. This isn't true. Just search "Woodrow Wilson 1883" and you'll see.

• In the final chapter, the author writes “When I saw Oliver Stone’s 1994 film about the Kennedy assassination…”. But that film came out in 1991.

• Audiobook narrator mistake: Arthur Morey once says “John TAYLOR” instead of “John Tyler”. I rewinded three times to make sure I wasn’t mishearing it.

Also, something that seemed nonsensical:
• I understand utilizing the "Close Calls" chapter to mention near-deaths via illnesses (A.Johnson/ Wilson) or assassination attempts (Jackson/Ford)-- but why wait until this chapter to mention "close calls" regarding Truman by Puerto Rican nationalists or the attempted bombing of president-elect JFK (and hence, its affect on LBJ) instead of during the chapters that initially dealt with these men? The author certainly didn’t save ALL "close calls" for that late chapter. For instance, he mentioned Tyler’s near-death aboard the Princeton and T.R.’s carriage accident in those men's respective chapters. So why not Truman's "close call" in the Truman chapter or JFK's "close call" in LBJ's chapter?

And finally, I've never encountered the word "particularly" more in a book. I noticed it because that is a very hard word to pronounce in voice-over; although Mr. Morey aced it every time.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • TS
  • 05-02-19

Fascinating book!

This was a fascinating book for anyone who wants to learn more about presidential history. I read plenty about presidential history and still learned so much in this book. It’s definitely one to get ASAP. The only thing I’d say is it sometimes strays a tad off message but still focuses on presidential history, decisions, and how small things changed our country forever. Get it today!

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extrordinary research<br />

it seems the author gained access to every personal accounting of public and private moments.

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The detail is amazing

narrator was very good, and the events leading up to and after the deaths of the Presidents engrossing.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful