The Unexpected President by Scott Greenberg

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: May be the last time a politician pulled a sincere 180.

Quick synopsis: The life of President Chester A. Arthur.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Arthur had fresh flowers placed at the portrait of his deceased wife every day he was president. He never remarried.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: Arthur was thought to have a part in his predecessor’s assassination. Charles Guiteau, who assassinated James Garfield, shouted something about Arthur being president now. He had nothing to do with it.

My Take: I was shocked at how interesting Chester A. Arthur was over the course of his life. I think most importantly, he is one of the few presidents in history who became a better person when he reached the highest office.

Arthur was a lawyer, devoted husband, and politically the product of one Roscoe Conkling. Conkling isn’t well known unless you are a politics nerd, but he was an extremely powerful senator and kingmaker. Conkling was the ultimate power broker and practiced patronage with absolute impunity. Arthur was part of the machine…until he became president. Arthur effectively turned on Conkling and supported civil service reform. It was an amazing reversal for someone who was seen purely as a lackey.

There are numerous other things about Arthur which are interesting. He has a presidency that looks better and better as time goes by. Go take a look!

Verdict: A good book on a very interesting man who bettered himself. Read it.

If You Liked This Try:

  • Ron Chernow, Washington: A Life
  • Candice Millard, Destiny of the Republic
  • Candice Millard, River of Doubt
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals
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The Unexpected President by Scott Greenberg
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