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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Game Changer

Until now, books about American history have not been a significant piece of my reading diet. "Mr. President: George Washington And The Making Of The Nation's Highest Office" (2013) is a game changer. Immediately after finishing it, I added several books by author Harlow Giles Unger to my queue. I'm so pumped to read more of this historian's work. End-to-end, the last book of history I was this excited about was "Founding Brothers" by Joseph Ellis.    

"Mr. President" and "Founding Brothers" share some salient features:

* At under three hundred pages, neither is as intimidating as many history books.

* Both make the familiar history breathe, courtesy of the narrative gifts of the respective authors.

* The use of spaced repetition in both books increases the chance attentive readers might retain some of the information. For example, in "Mr. President", each time Unger introduces what he terms a new "pillar of presidential power", he re-states all the earlier pillars, using slightly different phraseology, but always reiterating the pillars in the same order. Then his appendix lists all seven pillars, the dates George Washington first erected them, and the way each pillar expanded the role of the nation's chief executive.

I can't recommend this book enough. If you've read it, please share your thoughts. If you get to it in the future, remember to refer back to this post and tell me what you think.


  1. Another Unger you might check out is Irwin Unger who is a friend and neighbor. He has written many books on American history one of which won a Pulitzer. I haven't read it - I think it is the one about the Greenback era. David has and liked it. Along with his wife Debi they wrote a book on LBJ. He is now 90 almost 91 and up until recently was still writing!

  2. I recently completed the reading of “Mr. President” by H.G.Unger.