About the Site


Long Story Short:
In 2013 I started reading a biography of every US president in chronological order, and I created this site to chronicle my irreverent observations, quests for historical truth, and personal insights along the way.

I plod through with a little help from my action figure friends.
(My friends don't always get along.)
These are the books I'm reading on my journey. Please feel free to plod along or contact me on Facebook and Twitter.

Short Story Longer:
Welcome to my About page! This is exactly where you're supposed to be right now, so relax. Take off your shoes. Unbutton that top pants button. Breathe.

Let's get to know each other, shall we? I'll go first. My name is Howard, which just so happens to be the middle name of the president with the biggest middle. (I'm talkin' 'bout Taft.)

What’s your name? Is it Dave? Did you know there haven’t been any presidents named David? Not one. Well, actually, it was Eisenhower's first name until he changed it to his mid-- I said just the top button! What are you doing, Dave!?

Me and my First Lady/Editor-in-Chief, holding up Mount Vernon.
Maybe we should get back to me. Though I plod through the annals of American history by night, by day I plod through a cubicle as a project manager at a digital advertising company. I live in Los Angeles with my extraordinary wife (and self-proclaimed Editor-in-Chief) and our perfectly cheeky 2-year-old daughter, but I was raised amid the cornfields of Minooka, Illinois. 

My young summers were spent swimming in our family pond or trekking through weeds with my trusty mutt, Spirit, and the rest of the year was devoted to watching as much TV as humanly possible. I'm of the generation that still remembers turning separate VHF and UHF knobs to watch reruns of The Benny Hill Show but now finds it hard to poop without an iPhone.

In fact, I probably know more about the history of the Huxtables and classic Doctor Who than I do about actual history. So I decided to change that, starting with American history. 

I chose to read a biography of every president in chronological order because I find it easier to identify with stories of individuals and their journeys, and because I hope it might make me a better leader and father. So far I'm really enjoying the Rashomon I'm getting of major events like the American Revolution, seeing it through the very different perspectives of the first seven presidents.

Ideally I'd like to read the best biography I can find of each president, but that's pretty subjective. How do I determine which books to read? It’s a complex formula in my head that looks something like this:
(Amazon reviews + other bloggers' reviews) / length x availability as an eBook = BESTINESS.
I started this site to chronicle my often irreverent and sometimes personal insights along the way, and I'm excited to share the behind the scenes stories of the chief executives, separating the fact from the fiction and humanizing them in the process.

I was thrilled to have my blog mentioned in The Washington Post, among other folks on a presidential biography journey. Though I'm not the only one on this quest, I may be the slowest - hence the "plodding" through the presidents - and I'm the only one I know of crafting historical and personal essays illustrated by a growing collection of presidential action figures.  

Soon after I got the first figure, a George Washington G.I. Joe, my wife woke up in the middle of the night to find me tucking his stripped down body into a little bed. Inside she might have feared for her future, but her words were inspiring. She said, "Aww...he sleeps in the same position as you." 
And that's really what this site is about - it's about realizing that deep down, George Washington sleeps in the same position as all of us. Even you, Dave. [citation needed]

This site, like its author, is constantly evolving. Feel free to explore and let me know what you think in the comments, or follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter where I post additional content. 

Thank you for plodding!

6 comments:

  1. You are one engaging writer! I think you really do understand the STORY part of history. A lot of very fine (and sometimes readable) historians can make a Sousa band sound like a lullaby!
    Feather Schwartz Foster
    www.featherfoster.wordpress.com

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  2. Thank you so much! That means a great deal coming from you, as I truly admire your blog and the stunning collection of presidential books you've amassed! I especially enjoy your focus on the women beside these men. It's funny how much more endearing John Adams is to me simply because Abigail loved him.

    I'm a big fan of the story part of history. I think humans are hard-wired to respond to stories and relating them is the best way to share knowledge. And Sousa should never sound like a lullaby -- my goal is to make his marches as exciting and wonderfully absurd as Monty Python did when they used his "Liberty March" as their theme song.

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  3. What a fabulous piece of writing. Can't wait to dive into the rest of the blog. I was directed here by way of Steve Floyd's blog and the WaPo article you both appeared in. I'm on the same journey (and was at a good pace until Team of Rivals, now I'm plodding). Glad I've found this gem!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much. I'm a huge fan of Steve Floyd's blog and his biographical recommendations, and it was an honor to be mentioned in the WaPo article with folks like him. Congrats on making it through 16 presidents so far, and thanks for your kind words! Please feel free to share your thoughts on other posts, I welcome the discussion!

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  4. Howard,
    Just got through the posts about Washington, and the one about the Oxford English Dictionary. Immediately googled definition of Wind F**ker. Thanks a lot.

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  5. I always hoped my writing would inspire people to action.

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