Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House

Mark K. Updegrove, Author
Mark K. Updegrove, Author . Lyons $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-59228-942-4
Reviewed on: 06/26/2006
Release date: 00/00/0000
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As life expectancy increases, U.S. presidents are living longer out of office than ever before. But the post–White House lives of the presidents since Truman have been a mixed bag, according to this creative work by Updegrove, former publisher of Newsweek . Updegrove delineates how these men, formerly the world's most powerful, coped with their new status, earned a living and tried to shape their legacies. Lyndon B. Johnson became depressed, and overate and smoked, despite an earlier heart attack. Jimmy Carter found a new purpose in his humanitarian and diplomatic activities. Some of the book's most surprising moments come in the accounts of the immediate post-WWII presidents: Updegrove reminds us that when Truman left office, there was no pension for former presidents. Updegrove also focuses on the relationships among the ex-presidents, noting that many former adversaries made common cause, though Richard Nixon found it more difficult to get along with his successors. Scholars may find little new, as Updegrove mainly relies on presidential memoirs and secondary sources, in addition to personal interviews. But for those interested in the former presidents, this popular history will do the trick. B&w photos. 40,000 first printing; $75,000 ad/promo; first serial to American Heritage. (Oct.)

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