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Accidental Presidents

Eight Men Who Changed America
Narrated by: Arthur Morey
Length: 16 hrs and 57 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

The strength and prestige of the American presidency has waxed and waned since George Washington. Accidental Presidents looks at eight men who came to the office without being elected to it. It demonstrates how the character of the man in that powerful seat affects the nation and world.

Eight men have succeeded to the presidency when the incumbent died in office. In one way or another, they vastly changed our history. Only Theodore Roosevelt would have been elected in his own right. Only TR, Coolidge, Truman, and LBJ were reelected.

John Tyler succeeded William Henry Harrison, who died 30 days into his term. He was kicked out of his party and became the first president threatened with impeachment. 

Millard Fillmore succeeded esteemed General Zachary Taylor. He immediately sacked the entire cabinet and delayed an inevitable Civil War by standing with Henry Clay’s compromise of 1850. 

Chester Arthur, the embodiment of the spoils system, was so reviled as James Garfield’s successor that he had to defend himself against plotting Garfield’s assassination; but he reformed the civil service. 

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded our greatest president, sided with remnants of the Confederacy in Reconstruction. 

Theodore Roosevelt broke up the trusts. 

Calvin Coolidge silently cooled down the Harding scandals and preserved the White House for the Republican Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression. 

Truman surprised everybody when he succeeded the great FDR and proved an able and accomplished president. 

Lyndon B. Johnson was named to deliver Texas electorally. He led the nation forward on civil rights but failed on Vietnam.

Accidental Presidents adds immeasurably to our understanding of the power and limits of the American presidency in critical times.

©2019 Jared Cohen (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-05-19

Great story... average engineering on the read

The story is awesome and worth checking out. The reader has a great voice but it is obvious when he is picking up a sentence or has been edited. The engineering could be better.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Samuel Stephen Ross
  • 03-05-19

LOVE LOVE LOVE this book

Not only was the content dynamite-- but the writing is just as great. As a POTUS fanatic (especially of the obscure chiefs like Tyler, Taylor, Johnson, Arthur etc), there isn't much I haven't heard/read about the presidents-- but Jared Cohen certainly mined deep enough to find a few wonderful nuggets of which I was hitherto unaware.

HOWEVER, as a fellow POTUS fanatic, I must point out a few mistakes:

• Regarding Tyler’s second wife, the author writes: “at 24, Julia became the youngest First Lady in American history— a title she will likely retain...” yet that was proven wrong as she ceased to retain said title in 1886 when Frances Folsom Cleveland became the youngest First Lady at 21 yrs old.

• The author mentioned that since Woodrow Wilson’s stroke left him unable to move significant potions on his face, he grew a mustache and beard for the first time in his life. This isn't true. Just search "Woodrow Wilson 1883" and you'll see.

• In the final chapter, the author writes “When I saw Oliver Stone’s 1994 film about the Kennedy assassination…”. But that film came out in 1991.

• Audiobook narrator mistake: Arthur Morey once says “John TAYLOR” instead of “John Tyler”. I rewinded three times to make sure I wasn’t mishearing it.

Also, something that seemed nonsensical:
• I understand utilizing the "Close Calls" chapter to mention near-deaths via illnesses (A.Johnson/ Wilson) or assassination attempts (Jackson/Ford)-- but why wait until this chapter to mention "close calls" regarding Truman by Puerto Rican nationalists or the attempted bombing of president-elect JFK (and hence, its affect on LBJ) instead of during the chapters that initially dealt with these men? The author certainly didn’t save ALL "close calls" for that late chapter. For instance, he mentioned Tyler’s near-death aboard the Princeton and T.R.’s carriage accident in those men's respective chapters. So why not Truman's "close call" in the Truman chapter or JFK's "close call" in LBJ's chapter?

And finally, I've never encountered the word "particularly" more in a book. I noticed it because that is a very hard word to pronounce in voice-over; although Mr. Morey aced it every time.


8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • 11-08-19

Fascinating

This book is a discussion about the eight vice presidents who became president on the death of the president. They are: John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson. Gerald Ford became president after the resignation of Nixon.

The book is well written and researched. This book covers a lot of history and provides a number of good trivia questions. The book is easily readable. Cohen points out that most of the men were unremarkable as president except Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman. I would add to this Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford. Cohen only briefly mentioned Ford in his book as he did not fit his criteria. I thoroughly enjoyed the funny stories Cohn provided. After reading this book I realized how important it is to vote for a competent vice president.

The book is sixteen hours and fifty-seven minutes. Arthur Morey does an excellent job narrating the book. Morey is an actor and audiobook narrator. He has won a number Audiofile Earphone Awards, was twice nominated for an Audie Award and was voted Best Voice in non-fiction and Best Voice in History.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-07-19

Interesting book

It was education al.I learned about the event s that led to them becoming president. I would recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • frenchmen23
  • 13-07-19

Best book about Vice Presidents that I have read.

This book was really insightful and interesting I recommend it to anyone that enjoys presidential history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-07-19

Very Interesting!

For anyone intersted in presidential history, this book is very fascinating, with lots of insights into the personalities and experiences of the men that found themselves so abruptly and unexpectedly catapulted into the presidency. A very interesting book!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • R. Egg
  • 09-07-19

Research

Fascinating book. I don't normally listen to non-fiction. In this case, I'm glad I made an exception.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Gil
  • 30-06-19

Incredible history stories

A focus on 8 Vice Presidents and the stories behind some of America's incredible history on how they stepped into the highest office in the land. Few we're ready but as you listen you'll be taken on a fantastic history lession into the political turmoil that surrounded these Vice Presidents and so much more. Really enjoyed this book, anyone who loves history and politics you will love this as well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Steve C Eigenbrot
  • 29-06-19

Very interesting - solid read

Thoroughly enjoyed - great writing and storytelling. Glad I listened. Can’t imagine a bad thing to say about it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sharon Nathans
  • 26-06-19

Great history lesson

This book gave me renewed faith in the institutions of our democracy. I'm very disillusioned by the current administration. To read about Taft, Grant, Johnson, Nixon was, in a strange way, comforting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful