reading in order?

DiscussãoUS Presidents Challenge (USPC)

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reading in order?

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Mar 11, 2009, 5:20 pm

It looks like most people are reading in order. True?

So far, I've been dabbling. I keep aiming to read sooner, rather than later, about the presidents who are most interesting to me, such as FDR.

However, I feel like I'm missing out on much of the fun by not reading in order. I think I certainly would learn more that way.

Mar 11, 2009, 7:28 pm

I'm reading in order, mainly because I like the overlap in history. It gives me a sense of continuity.

Editado: Mar 11, 2009, 11:01 pm

I've found so far that reading in order has been helpful. It's like a movie, first you have George as the main character and John is in a supporting role and Tom is in a minor role. Then the next movie, John is the main character, George is in a minor role and you have Tom as a supporting character. The history over laps and you have continuity as well as different viewpoints expressed. John sees the events one way and Tom sees them another. Also the issues aren't just popping up you see them developing and how George handles it one time and John does something else another.

I think it makes it easier to understand what happened.

Mar 11, 2009, 11:19 pm

That makes a lot of sense, Cheli. I read that Flexner bio of Washington years ago but I'm thinking I might start His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis and then move on to the John Adams book by McCullough. For those two, this should suffice for me (you never know). For Jefferson, probably more than one book.

Mar 12, 2009, 11:03 pm

I only needed one for George and JA but Tom was such a muddle that I had to do more than 1. So far the same has happened with Madison, I'm on my 3rd book related to Jemmie and still have 1 more after that. I'm certainly hoping that this does not continue. at that rate I'll need Obama to be re-elected.

Mar 13, 2009, 9:52 am

I'm reading in order for much the same reason as drneutrn. I was as much interested in learning the history of the nation as of the lives of the presidents. Plus, like cheli said, the same event will be viewed and handled differently by different people.

I'm allowing myself to move on after only one book, but I have typically read more than one. I think 3 each for Washington and Jefferson, and 2 for Adams. But then I added Inventing a Nation by Gore Vidal, which included "bio's" of all 3 men.

I have to admit, though, to being anxious to read some of the new biographies when they come out, but am forcing myself to wait until I get there, when I think I'll appreciate them more.

Editado: Mar 13, 2009, 1:23 pm

My biggest problem is that I want it all NOW!
I want to be able to read the first 20 right this minute and I can't do it!
I want to find out about those obscure presidents like Tyler ad Fillmore as an example but I also want to know about Jackson and Pierce. I want to do Lincoln NOW!

** she shakes her head and keeps repeating her mantra .... patience is a virtue... patience is a virtue...patience is a virtue.... SIGH **

Mar 13, 2009, 1:33 pm

Cheli, that is the way I feel about every book I see. As much as I love them, going to book stores and libraries are frustrating because I can't read everything, much less right NOW!

Mar 13, 2009, 1:36 pm

Cheli, I am not very patient, either.

I think I will try to read in order, after all. I think that's the optimal way.

However, I'd promised myself to read a book about FDR's first 100 days in office before Obama reached his first 100 days in office so I will still do that.

Also still plan to read the book about presidential travel and also the one about post-presidencies (for the 999 challenge).

Mar 14, 2009, 1:48 pm

I know what you mean about wanting to read it all now. I just started yesterday and reading what I already have in my home library first. So started with Teddy Roosevelt, next will be Lincoln....maybe I should go in order though.

Mar 14, 2009, 3:31 pm

I'm thinking that when I finally get started next year, I'll go in order with the best biographies (by then you all should have them figured out for me), but I will read unofficial "about" books in any order. That way I can have the best of both options.

Editado: Mar 16, 2009, 5:24 pm

And here's the contrarian in the midst! I'm reading these in any order I can find them on the shelves. I'm actually avoiding some of the more prominent men because there is so much available to choose from, and I want some feedback first on content and writer styles. *ala several others above-LOL*

I've read a lot of history in my past, specifically U.S. history, so bouncing around is not as crazy as it may seem--and some of the biographies of the "lesser" presidents have put some events and people back in order for me.

Also, with the exception of George H.W. Bush, I've been avoiding some of the more contemporary (okay presidents of my lifetime) because I have very mixed feelings about several of them, and want to get a better grounding in what situations they came into before I read about them.

I have to admit as well, that this approach is supported by my reading off the 1001 Must Read list, where I found my English Literature background seemed to be woefully lacking with "classics" from long ago. I tried to read those in order, and got totally bogged down. Now, I find if I read some in order, some recent, some older, that I enjoy all of them much more.

Oh well--you know there's one in every bunch!

Mar 16, 2009, 5:32 pm

Prop2gether, I am definitely with you on holding off on the more contemporary presidents.

I, too, have very strong views on the presidents during my adulthood, and some distance from them would likely be best for me.

I am leaning toward doing this "in order" after all but do plan to read a few other presidential-related books, as well, out of order.

Mar 16, 2009, 6:04 pm

#12 I've been waiting for the "contrarian" voice to speak! If I never hear the other side, then I just assume that my opinion is the right one and I never question whether there is another, better, way. I can see that, if you have a good base in American history, that it won't matter so much which order you take them in. I've become pretty familiar with the colonial and revolutionary period, and it doesn't confuse me to read different materials out of "order". But the rest of the period from, say, 1800 until mid-20th C, I am pretty shaky, so I still think taking them in order will serve me best. The more recent presidents will benefit from some distance, so I'll want to do them last, anyways.

Mar 24, 2009, 3:19 pm

FINALLY, I've turned the corner, in terms of interest, in the Joseph Ellis bio of Washington. Now that he's getting into Washington's presidency, there are so many x vs y, national-type issues that I can definitely see the merits of reading in order.

In fact, one upcoming book, I think, needs to be a detailed analysis of the election of 1800. I think there are at least two such books out there, one by Larson, I believe.

I've read quite a bit about the Revolutionary War era but it was definitely a good idea to get a bit of a refresher course as I hadn't read anything on this topic in quite a long time.

Mar 24, 2009, 4:03 pm

#15 You'll get an analysis of that election in both the Adams and Jefferson bio's. And by reading both of those, you'll get both sides of the issues. But, if you find a good stand-alone, be sure to mention it.

I always find it reassuring to get a refresher on something and discover that I really had retained quite a bit - hopefully that was your experience this time. Are you planning on another Washington, or are you getting ready to move on to Adams next? Or maybe someone else instead?

Mar 24, 2009, 4:10 pm

#15 - I had that problem with that bio as well, I almost gave up part way through, but by the end I enjoyed it.

And back on topic, to me, reading in order makes the most sense, because my grasp of US history is pretty shaky.

Editado: Mar 24, 2009, 4:26 pm

sjmccreary, I read the one-volume Flexner bio of Washington years ago so I think this will be it for me on Washington. I am reading the parts about the big issues of that day with an eye towards the future presidents and not just reading for information.

I was thinking, as you mentioned, that reading the McCullough bio of Adams and then a Jefferson bio would balance things out but I am aware of two books on the 1800 election. Both well-regarded, both on LT and on amazon, at least. (Both are on Kindle, too.)

One is: A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign by Edward J. Larson. I think Cheli read this one.

The other is: Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 by John Ferling.

I am leaning towards the Ferling book, possibly.

Mar 24, 2009, 8:40 pm

I did read the book A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign and I'm glad I did. This book gave a very detailed outlook into the politics behind the election. I liked it because it was very neutral as to the outlook politically.

Ago 1, 2009, 7:54 pm

I'm coming to the challenge a bit late, but with enthusiasm, and I definitely expect to do it in chronological order. It's the only way I can think to make sense of it all, and I think I'll get a better review of U.S. history in the process.

Ago 1, 2009, 8:33 pm

Yep, that's what I've found. I'm amazed at how much overlap there is from president to president that way.

Editado: Ago 1, 2009, 11:12 pm

When the Challenge started I happened to be reading a bio of Grover Cleveland. I quickly realized it made much more sense to read the bios in order. However, this does lead to a lot of overlap. Not that there is anything wrong with that. For example, the John Adams book I read gave me a lot of info on Jefferson.

Ago 31, 2009, 11:05 am

I chose to read in order because, as a recent and happy immigrant, I wanted to find a way to work out why USA ticks the way it does - warts and all.
I'm just finishing LBJ now and I'm glad I chose this approach. It has definitely been a good way to meet some of the non- president influential personages like Gouveneur Morris, Fernando Wood, Henry Clay, Thaddeus Stevens and Robert Taft. I can't think of any other way I would have been made aware of their contributions and where those contributions fit into the tapestry.

Ago 31, 2009, 11:22 am

>23 gmillar:

And if you figure out why the USA ticks as it does, you'll let us know, right? :)

Ago 31, 2009, 2:44 pm

Those of us who've libved here all our lives still can't figure some of it out, glad we can try to do it together.

Ago 31, 2009, 6:38 pm

I figure that with the last election we got pretty close to getting it right. Does that help?
All we have to do (can you see my tongue pushing my cheek out) is plug in some Carter tolerance, some Obama intelligence, some JQA sense of right, some Garfield honesty, hold fast to the Monroe doctrine and back off pushing the muzzles of our weapons into the business of the rest of the world and I think we'll be OK.