Star Spangled Men: America's Ten Worst Presidents

Nathan Miller, Author
Nathan Miller, Author Scribner Book Company $23 (272p) ISBN 978-0-684-83610-2
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Combining brief biographical profiles with scathing critiques, this one-man's rogues' gallery offers up Miller's (The Roosevelt Chronicles) opinions on who he considers to be the least successful American presidents. The trenchant though often superficial nature of this account is first revealed in the table of contents, where Miller lambastes William Howard Taft for being so fat he got stuck in a White House bathtub and characterizes Benjamin Harrison as looking like a ""medieval gnome"" with a handshake like a ""wilted petunia,"" as if these qualities affected leadership. In an epilogue, he deflates two more presidents as the ""most overrated""--John F. Kennedy, whom he calls a ""confirmed cold warrior"" (wasn't virtually everyone in those days?), and Thomas Jefferson, whom he accuses of wrecking the nation's economy and leading the country to war with Britain through the Embargo Act of 1807. Miller writes with passion in this irreverent broadside, where opinion tends to overstep analysis. (Feb.)
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