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Affairs of State: The Untold History of Presidential Love, Sex, and Scandal, 1789-1900

Affairs of State: The Untold History of Presidential Love, Sex, and Scandal, 1789-1900


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In recent years, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and countless other politicians have made headlines for their sexual scandals. But such stories are not new. Indeed, there is a long history of misbehavior in politics, including in the nation’s highest office. Bill Clinton, it can safely be said, was not the first president to misbehave, nor was he the worst. In fact, there is a long history of presidential peccadilloes. Many presidents have been influenced and had their careers affected by the hand of a woman, sometimes that of a wife or mother, but at other times that of a mistress. But these stories are rarely told. Instead, history has tended to glorify our leaders. Such a scrubbed version of the lives of presidents, however, omits their marital woes, love lives, and sexual peccadilloes. As Robert P. Watson reveals, it is precisely these intimate and all-too-human moments that provide some of the most valuable insights into our leaders. Affairs of State is not just about sex and scandal—the “who did it” of history—although such incidents are described in detail. It is a book about love, marriage, and affairs in the White House, offering an intimate character study of the First Couples who made history. To see the author discuss his book on Inside South Florida, please click here. To see him discuss the book on C-SPAN, please click here.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442218352
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 11/07/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 500
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Robert P. Watson is professor and director of American studies at Lynn University. He is the author of numerous books on U.S. history and politics. He was the founding editor of the journal White House Studies and serves on several academic and foundation boards. As a political analyst, he is interviewed regularly by national and international media. For his work as a scholar, lecturer, and community activist, Dr. Watson has received a range of awards, including the International Abraham Lincoln Center Award, the Children's Hero Award, and the League of Women Voters’ Good Government Award. He is also the recipient of several teaching excellence awards, including Outstanding Professor of the Year.

Table of Contents

Introduction: They Don’t Teach This Stuff in School Chapter 1. Say It Isn’t So! Chapter 2. Presidential Peccadilloes Ten Stories of Presidential Love, Sex, and Scandal Chapter 3. “I Profess Myself a Votary to Love” Chapter 4. “Domestic Felicity” Chapter 5. Slave Owner and Slave Lover                     Chapter 6. “A Petticoat Affair”           Chapter 7. A Near Miss           Chapter 8. “The Siamese Twins”           Chapter 9. “I Can Never Be Satisfied”           Chapter 10. An Unlikely Union           Chapter 11. Full House           Chapter 12. Beloved Goddaughter           Conclusion: What Happens in the Lincoln Bedroom… Chapter 13. Fatal Attraction           Chapter 14. Making Sense of Presidential Nonsense

What People are Saying About This

Douglas M. Brattebo

Affairs of State is a tour de force from one of the leading presidential scholars of our time. This book provides an eloquent, impeccably researched reminder that presidents—including those on Mount Rushmore—are human beings shaped by their intimate relationships, romantic and familial. For everyone interested in the American presidency, Robert P. Watson has written an accessible, compelling book that sheds light on the inner lives, foibles, and crucial relationships that shaped many of the most important presidents.

Max J. Skidmore

Robert Watson is one of the most thoughtful scholars that American studies and political science have produced. No one is more qualified than he to turn his attention to presidential follies and embarrassments. The result is a rollicking romp through political history that is as informative and insightful as it is entertaining.

Tom Lansford

Robert P. Watson’s Affairs of State is a fascinating and well-told examination of the great loves and lesser foibles of America’s presidents. A noted presidential scholar, Watson recounts the personal lives of the occupants of the ‘People’s House,’ exploring the human side of U.S. politics through stories that are at once touching, humorous, and sometimes shocking. The work helps fill a vacuum by allowing the reader to explore patterns of behavior that humanize the nation’s presidents. Watson also challenges the conventional mythology that surrounds many of the chief executives by presenting a clearer and deeper understanding of the nation’s leaders and the events that surrounded their presidencies.

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