First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama

Joshua Kendall. Grand Central, $27 (448p) ISBN 978-1-455-55195-8
As biographer Kendall (The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture) argues, one can learn a great deal about American presidents by examining their parenting styles. To that end, Kendall highlights three distinct styles identified by child-development experts: authoritarian (Jimmy Carter, who put his family to work first in his peanut farming business and then in his political campaigns), authoritative (Barack Obama, who mandates family dinners five nights a week), and permissive (Ulysses S. Grant, who brought his children to visit him during the Civil War and rarely, if ever, offered a rebuke). Kendall doesn’t categorically endorse or condemn any of these, only noting that pros and cons exist for each. Perhaps most interesting is Kendall’s take on a side issue: How does dedication to parenting affect a political career? Can one have both? The book’s organization leaves something to be desired, interpolating brief histories of presidents and their families into the text seemingly at random, rather than chronologically or by parenting style. Nonetheless, this volume may give readers a better idea of what qualities to look for in their leaders. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2016
Release date: 05/10/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-4555-5196-5
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-4555-5194-1
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