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Publisher's Summary

In Dead Presidents, NPR host Brady Carlson takes listeners to presidential gravesites, monuments, and memorials to tell the death stories of our greatest leaders. Mixing biography and travelogue, Carlson explores whether William Henry Harrison really died of a cold, why Zachary Taylor's remains were exhumed 140 years after his death, and how what killed James A. Garfield wasn't an assassin's bullet. He tells the surprising stories of the Washington Monument, Mount Rushmore, and Grant's Tomb. And he explains why "Hooverball" is still played in Iowa, why Millard Fillmore's final resting place is beside that of funk legend Rick James, and why Ohio and Alaska continue to battle over the name of Mt. McKinley.

With an eye for neglected places and offbeat people reminiscent of Tony Horwitz and Sarah Vowell, Carlson shows that the ways we memorialize our presidents reveal as much about us as about the men themselves.

©2016 Brady Carlson. Recorded by arrangement with W. W. Norton & Company. (P)2016 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about Dead Presidents

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Dead ends and in depth history.

Honestly this story was a bit of a disappointment. We follow the narrator along what I guess was a road trip with his family checking out tourists spots where dead presidents have tombs and monuments.
This unfortunately makes for a disjointed confusing history lesson, going back and forth in time. While informative and interesting, I had a hard time following, as we leaped from one president to the next, out of chronological order, with no clear time line. The only interesting stories were those about each president while what we really needed was some way to tie the whole book together.

1 person found this helpful

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Gets five stars from me!

I'm going to start off by saying that although some readers were unhappy with the thematic arrangement, preferring a chronological linear approach instead, it worked very well as far as I'm concerned.


He does begin with George Washington, making that life a successful jumping-off point for the rest of the project, rather than raising a high bar to be met throughout the book. Later, when he gets to others with "bigger" stories, they don't seem to dwarf their less-prominent brethren, but one expects more content from those entries. Lincoln features a discussion of the grave-robbery plot, which inspired a tomb re-design. Jefferson's space featured a discussion of his relationship with Sally Hemmings that I found interesting and objective, rather than a sense of being obliged to tackle that subject. The issue of presidential slaves is brought in with other profiles (Andrew Jackson for one).

He gives decent space to lesser-known names... attending a Hooverball tournament in Iowa, for example. Nixon is treated with some sympathy; I was actually touched by LBJ's daughter on that score (you'll have to read it for yourself).

I found the book an overall success, with solid audio narration (an exception being the mangling of Bowdoin College beyond recognition). Highly recommended!

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Both interesting and entertaining

Any additional comments?

History buffs, in particular, will likely enjoy both the content and the delivery of this audiobook.

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Fun to Listen to

I'd listen to this book twice I've enjoyed it more each time the narration is good and the information is fun to know and understand I recommend this book to anyone looking for a light read

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Things I did not know about Dead Presidents

If you could sum up Dead Presidents in three words, what would they be?

Humans are strange

Who was your favorite character and why?

No characters in this book.

What does Tom Zingarelli bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I can multitask.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No extreme reaction.

Any additional comments?

Overall the story was quite interesting. I enjoyed these bits of information since I enjoy reading about American History.

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Takes a humorous and very factual look

Takes a humorous and very factual look at what one might assume is a morose topic. It is not. Nothing is overly critical nor glossed over. The delivery is "Just the facts, ma'am" but with a wink and a smile. A good choice for the narrator as well.

Very well researched by Brady Carlson and well worth the read.
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    4 out of 5 stars

Novel clustering of dead presidents per chapter

What did you like best about this story?

I liked how Carlson clustered dead presidents by common theme instead of the typical #1 George Washington, #2 John Adams, #3 Thomas Jefferson, etc.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Every which way possible ... a president's handbook for dying AND memorializing

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Fun

Finished this on Presidents' Day. Rather lightweight but enjoyable work on the subject I've held in most esteem since I was a boy.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Meh

Fortunately purchased with an Audible credit, surely would not have paid money for this hodgepodge rambling meander.