Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Juicy bits about...presidents?

I should be reading books for my online book club, but I'm not in possession of either of them. I'm on a wait list for one at the library and the other is being sent from an Amazon vendor. I probably should've purchased them for my Nook, but it's a little late for that route.

So yesterday when E went down for a nap - and I was fighting what I'm guessing was a seasonal allergy headache - I decided to pick up a new book off my bookshelf (yes, I buy books and they sit there). I bought this particular one at a local library sale for about 50 cents. If you have a local sale in your area, I highly recommend you go. Most of the books at our sale were brand new, but the library didn't have room for them. Just go early because that's when the best stuff is available.

Right, so I started reading Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents by Cormac O'Brien. Sounds dry, right? It's actually fascinating. There's a brief overview of each president's contribution to America followed by juicy tidbits that you may not have heard before (unless you're a history buff and then maybe which president farts a lot is common knowledge?).

I haven't finished the book yet, but wanted to share a couple of interesting facts that I've learned so far.

1. George Washington was paid $25,000 a year (roughly $1 million today) and spent a whopping 7 percent on booze. He also had leopard skin robes made for his horses.

2. Thomas Jefferson liked greeting ambassadors in his pajamas (this was not well received...).

3. James Madison was only 5'4" and is the shortest president ever. I would tower over him by a solid 3 1/2 to 4 inches.

4. John Quincy Adams enjoyed skinny dipping in the Potomac. He also had three sons - one committed suicide by jumping off a ship, one died from an illness related to obesity and liquor and one lived to an old age.

5. Andrew Jackson was rumored to have fought in more than 100 duels. He had several bullets lodged in his body, including one close to his heart.

6. John Tyler had 15 children. What the what.

I'm only on president number 10 so I have a ways to go, but this is proving to be an interesting and quick read. The pages are broken down into digestible paragraphs and the graphics are spot-on. If you're looking for a book to read, this is a great one to pick up (I think there may also be a free pdf version online).

Plus, then you can sound super smart when you start dropping presidential knowledge at your next dinner party. And who doesn't want to sound super smart?


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