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First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama

First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama

by Joshua Kendall


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Every president has had some experience as a parent. Of the 43 men who have served in the nation's highest office, 38 have fathered biological children and the other five adopted children. Each president's parenting style reveals much about his beliefs as well as his psychological make-up. James Garfield enjoyed jumping on the bed with his kids. FDR's children, on the other hand, had to make appointments to talk to him.

In a lively narrative, based on research in archives around the country, Kendall shows presidential character in action. Readers will learn which type of parent might be best suited to leading the American people and, finally, how the fathering experiences of our presidents have forever changed the course of American history.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455551958
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 05/10/2016
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Joshua C. Kendall is the author of The Man Who Made Lists, about the creation of Roget's Thesaurus, and The Forgotten Founding Father, a biography of Noah Webster, the lexicographer responsible for Webster's Dictionary. He is also an award-winning journalist, with work in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Psychology Today, and BusinessWeek, among other publications. He is an Associate Fellow of Yale's Trumbull College.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Sense and Sensibility of James Garfield 1

"It Is a Most Innocent and Intense Passion"

1 The Preoccupied 11

"I Should Like to Have Your Opinion on It"

2 Playful Pals 71

"My Father Likes Snakes"

3 Double-Dealing Dads 130

"You Know Such Things Happen on Plantations"

4 Tiger Dads 185

"I Could Feel Nothing but Sorrow and Shame in Your Presence"

5 The Grief-Stricken 240

"I Always See My Boy Playing Tennis on the Court Out There"

6 The Nurturers 294

"When Is My Daddy Coming?"

Epilogue: Presidential Choices 347

"I Knew I Had to Share My Daddy"

Acknowledgments 353

Sources and Notes 357

Photo Credits 375

Index 379

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