by Paul F. Boller Jr.
Ft. Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 2012. Pp. xiv, 245.
Index. $34.95. ISBN: 0875654436
An informal, but thoughtful, look at the nature of the presidency and the presidents.
In more than two dozen essays, chapters, op-eds, reviews, and similar writings, Presidential historian Prof. Boller (emeritus TCU) examines a broad range of topics related to the office of the chief executive or to individual presidents and their work. The range of subjects is impressive. There’s a discussion of what Boller calls “the first American presidency”, the nature of the office in the early years of the Republic, and another on the relationship of Pennsylvania Avenue and evolution of presidential inaugurations. We get essays on the evolution of campaigning for office, presidents and religion, presidential gaffes, some first ladies, even Shakespeare and the presidency, among others. A number of essays address the military backgrounds of some of the presidents or other military topics such as “Professional Soldiers in the White House” and “No Need to Salute the Troops”, on the trend since Ronald Reagan for the president to return hand salutes, something not previously done. Boller closes the book with a wealth of quotes from presidents and their spouses, some pithy, some funny, and some just dumb. Although some essays are amusing or address perhaps minor matters, most
are thought-provoking inquiries or commentaries on the most important office in the land.
Boller’s Essays on the Presidents will prove a rewarding read for presidential scholars and interested citizens alike.