What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House

Tevi Troy. Regnery, $18.95 trade paper (332p) ISBN 978-1-62157-039-4

In 2010, Obama delivered a joke about Jersey Shore reality star Snooki, but later admitted on The View that he didn’t know who she was; the typically pop culture–literate POTUS’s gaffe belied the White House’s struggle to maintain the dignity of the high office while simultaneously participating with the public in the consumption of culture. Troy (Intellectuals and the American Presidency), a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute think tank, admiringly details the exemplary reading habits of the nation’s early presidents before tracking the slow but steady sidelining of the pastime. Teddy Roosevelt (who once declared, “Reading with me is a disease”) would be “the last reading president,” after which radio, music, film, TV, and the Internet fragmented the media landscape and the attentions of the American public—and the president. Troy’s casual history comes in easily digestible bites, and though his loyalty to former boss George W. Bush (under whom he served as the deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services) clouds his analysis of the current and previous president, this is nevertheless an informative look at how these American leaders embraced and transformed popular culture and the ever-evolving office of the presidency. Agent: Gene Brissie, James Peter Associates. (Sept.)