Every four years, the world watches as the United States passes the title and power of the presidency from one person to another in a peaceful and orderly manner. With a formal ceremony, a large parade, and gala inaugural balls, it's a big, colorful show-one rich with history, tradition, and ritual.
Through a compilation of vignettes, author Jim Bendat chronicles all of Inauguration Day's historic events. Democracy's Big Day tells stories about the outgoing and incoming presidents who did not get along, the chief justices who improperly administered the presidential oath, the vice president who showed up to the ceremony drunk, and the nine occasions in which the United States had an unplanned and unanticipated inauguration-often for a nation in mourning.
Democracy's Big Day presents a comprehensive history of presidential inaugurations-from George Washington through Barack Obama. From the morning White House coffee gathering to the evening's parties, the author provides a captivating look at what is truly democracy's biggest day.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Mr. Bendat has written several editions of this book. This review is of the 2012 edition which has the subtitle, The Inauguration of Our President, 1789-2013. It appears that this is the pattern with his earlier books, that they have been published the year prior to the inauguration. I would have preferred not to have the upcoming inauguration, which has not yet occurred and before the candidates have even been selected, in the subtitle although occasionally Mr. Bendat mentions something about the upcoming event.Mr. Bendat, who is an expert on inauguration history, divides the book by the time of day instead of chronologically. The sections include: The Prelude, The Ceremony, The Inaugural Parade, The Inaugural Ball, and Sudden Death (and Resignation). In each section, Mr. Bendat tells the history of that event with interesting specifics from various inaugurations. Some stories are very familiar to people living during that era such as Robert Frost¿s being unable to read the special poem he had written for Kennedy¿s inauguration in 1961, and reciting another of his poems from memory. In 1977 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were the first President and First Lady to walk the parade route, and the only ones to walk the entire distance although other couples have walked part of the way since then.Although the book is primarily textual, numerous photographs are included. An inauguration chart gives the inauguration number and date, president, party, age, site of inauguration, sworn in by, weather, # of inaug. balls, and notable aspects. Since inaugurations are not held on Sundays, several presidents were sworn in the day before; this information also appears on the chart.