The Handy Presidents Answer Book

2nd ed. 502p. (The Handy Answer Book Series). photos. reprods. index. CIP. Visible Ink. 2011. pap. $21.95. ISBN 978-1-57859-317-0; ebook $18.95. ISBN 978-1-57859-360-6. LC 2011019771.
Gr 7–10—Using the same question-and-answer format found in the 2004 edition, this book's opening three chapters, which provide background about the origins and duties of the American presidency, White House history and the evolution of political parties, and campaigns and elections, are similar to their earlier counterparts. However, the rest of the book has been completely reorganized, offering thematic chapters that trace the evolution of presidential duties and powers and separate chapters about each president. Coverage is to the midpoint of the Obama administration, and questions are arranged so that the three- to five-sentence answers provide roughly chronological information about each president's childhood and family life, education, career and political paths, term(s), and post-presidential life. They also discuss policy positions and initiatives, cabinet and Supreme Court appointments, and successes and failures. Each chapter includes a black-and-white presidential portrait as well as a few dark, minimally captioned illustrations or photographs about text topics. Although the material, which offers some interesting tidbits, will have some appeal to trivia buffs, content is superficial and this edition does not improve upon its predecessor, which included a bibliography and list of additional resources that are missing here. Ann Bausum's more readable and comprehensive Our Country's Presidents (National Geographic, 2009) is a better choice.—Mary Mueller, formerly at Rolla Junior High School, MO

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