4 out of 4 stars
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Our Nation's No.2, the Rising Influence of America's Modern Vice Presidency by Charles Denyer is an in-depth look at the lives and accomplishments of several American vice presidents over the years.
The biographical guide is broken into two main parts. The first part is a general overview with a peek at the early history of the vice presidency. Initially, the duties of vice presidents such as Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Spiro Agnew, and Gerald Ford were rather inconsequential. Often, they were around just for PR purposes. Their living quarters were nowhere near the White House; sometimes, they were as far as in another city.
The second part is a comprehensive biography of many modern vice presidents, which helps us understand how these politicians came to enjoy the power and influence they wield today. It includes personalities like Walter Mondale, George H. W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Al Gore, Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, and Mike Pence. The author shows that American politics came a long way since those early days. After reading the book, if you were to compare side by side old-style vice presidents like Lyndon B. Johnson to modern-day ones like Dick Cheney, you'd be able to see the stark differences and highlight the relevance and significance of the vice presidents in America today.
The author noted that Vice President Walter Mondale was the first to live at the Naval Observatory. I enjoyed the chapter depicting the transformation of the Naval Observatory into the vice president's temporary home. It touches on the way each subsequent family modernized it, upgraded it, and made it into the welcoming abode it is today.
As a European that knows little about past vice presidents, I found it interesting to learn that Mondale was the one to change the vice presidency from the shadow it once was into a glorious, nationally and internationally relevant, and respected office.
There is a lot to learn from the book, and people following American politics will find it extremely useful. I have only become interested in the politics of America since the presidency of Barack Obama. He is a person most of us living in Europe look up to even today. I continued following American politics during the latest presidential elections when the unthinkable happened: Hillary Clinton lost the elections despite having almost 3 million more votes to her name. The phrase that stumped me was Electoral College, a term that doesn’t exist in Europe. Thus, I appreciated Charles Denyer explaining the meaning of the Electoral College, talking about its inception, growth, and even its controversy. This finally put things into perspective as to how someone with more votes could lose the elections.
Charles Denyer included many photos that captured some of the their more memorable moments sitting or standing next to presidents or giving talks around the country. I found that the addition of these photos made the book much more interactive and engaging with the reader.
The biography is written in a clear language that anyone with a good command of English can follow without problems. Despite the topic that some people might find to be dry, the book is not boring at all. It is professionally edited, as I found no major grammatical errors within the pages.
Thus, I give Our Nation's No.2, the Rising Influence of America's Modern Vice Presidency 4 out of 4 stars. It is accurate, comprehensive, and it shows the breadth and depth of the author’s research for this book. I appreciate that he personally interviewed former vice presidents along with people who worked directly with them during their terms. I can easily recommend this book to lovers of American politics and to those who enjoy reading straight, factual biographies of accomplished American personalities of old and new.
Our Nation's No.2, the Rising Influence of America's Modern Vice Presidency
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