As I indicated yesterday, I’m a little bored with politics lately. I thought I’d share a couple of books I’m reading.
One is an excellent book I heard about from Doug McIntyre of KABC. It’s titled The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity.
The thesis of the book is that ex-presidents often come together and put politics aside after they leave office, because they recognize the enormous responsibilities and pressures of the job. But the book is perhaps more interesting because it is an account of presidential politics since Truman, with a focus on the personalities involved. You get to learn about Hoover’s and Eisenhower’s relationship with Truman. There are accounts of the battles and friendships among Reagan, Ford, and Nixon. I’ve learned a lot about 20th century presidential politics that I didn’t know. For example, since I was a kid during Watergate, I admit I didn’t realize precisely how Ford became President. I knew he was Nixon’s vice president and took over after Nixon’s resignation, of course — but I didn’t realize that he was appointed by Nixon after Spiro Agnew resigned under the threat of prosecution for taking bribes as a governor . . . or that Ford was not Nixon’s first choice, but was chosen by Nixon because John Connally would not be approved by Democrats in Congress. It’s a well done and captivating book and I highly recommend it.
I have also started Mark Twain’s travel book The Innocents Abroad. It’s 99 cents on your Kindle [UPDATE: or, as Smock Puppet points out, free here if you can figure out how to download it and get it on your device]. Twain’s style is hilarious. For example, here he is on the wonderful sense of satisfaction we all feel when other people are seasick and we are not:
I knew what was the matter with them. They were seasick. And I was glad of it. We all like to see people seasick when we are not, ourselves.
Finally, I am looking forward to reading the latest Bernie Rhoderbarr book from Lawrence Block, The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons (Bernie Rhodenbarr). In my opinion, Block is the only mystery writer on par with Michael Connelly. It’s Block, so it has to be good.
P.S. After reading some of The Presidents Club, I went looking for YouTube clips of Nixon tapes. I found this amusing bit where Nixon, Haldeman, and others are discussing Archie Bunker and homosexuality, from May 13, 1971. Takeaway lines from Nixon: “Sure, Aristotle was a homo, we all know that. So was Socrates. . . . Do you know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags. The last six.”
Ah, Oval Office banter. And he knew he was taping himself. What a maroon.