Tonight, I had the really wonderful opportunity to listen to a book discussion about a book called The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity by TIME magazine editors Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.
It was really neat to have two high-profile magazine editors come to McDaniel to give a book talk, but what they talked about was even cooler. (I mean, if you think learning about U.S. presidents is cool, like I do.)
The speakers, particularly Duffy were very knowledgeable about their subject–the relationships between current U.S. presidents and former presidents throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. (The term ‘presidents club’ refers to all of the living former and current presidents at any given time.) Apparently, they are the first two people to take on a project looking at and chronicling these relationships.
I learned a number of things about presidents that I would not have necessarily considered. For example, Gibbs and Duffy claimed that presidents from different parties often have better and stronger relationships with each other than presidents from the same party. While presidents such as Reagan and Nixon (both Republicans) and Clinton and Carter (both Democrats) did not get along, pairings such as Truman and Hoover and Clinton and Bush 41 have gotten along quite well.
I also learned that prior to Truman’s presidency, the concept of a presidents club did not exist. Truman was the first president to reach out to a former president, and he reached out to Hoover, who was the only other living president at the time.
I’m very glad I went to the talk. I love presidential history, so my inner history nerd was very happy. Everyone who attended the lecture received a free authographed copy of the book that the talk was based on, so my inner history nerd will be able to experience 500 pages of happiness over the summer when I have some free time.