Friday, April 5, 2019

Presidential Reading

And now, for something completely different.

Came across a short section in the book I'm reading, which is made up of short sections, little anecdotes:* Ike Hoover's 42 YEARS IN THE WHITE HOUSE, a behind-the-scenes look at nine presidents by a member of the White House staff.

This particular passage, just two paragraphs long, goes like this:


   Most of the Presidents of my time liked detective stories or at least mystery stories. There were exceptions, of course, like Roosevelt, who with all his reading, and he was perhaps the greatest reader of any President I knew, never read mystery stories. Current literature as published in magazines was his favorite. Wilson read the Christian Science Monitor, which he said was the only paper in America that told the truth. Wilson and Hoover, the former especially, were incessant detective story readers. Coolidge also enjoyed such stories; nevertheless, like Taft, he confined his reading principally to the daily papers. Taft especially seemed to read nothing else and would delve into every page of all the papers he could conveniently get hold of. Harding didn't seem to read much of anything. A game of chance or skill was more to his liking. Men like Harrison, Cleveland, and McKinley varied their reading, not confining themselves, so far as I could notice, to any particular line.

   All read the yellow journal made up in the office of clippings, news items, editorials, and stock market reports. Coolidge and Harding watched these carefully. Wilson, Taft, McKinley, and Roosevelt never seemed to notice them. Hoover seemed to watch them. 

--Ike Hoover, 1934, pages 271-272 

By 'Roosevelt' he means TR, not FDR, the latter having been famous for his love of detective stories -- so much so that he came up with the plot for one that was then written in round-robin style by a collection of well-known mystery writers of the time.  Or so I'm told, never having seen the book in question, THE PRESIDENT'S MYSTERY STORY.

--John R.

*a similar section (SMOKING HABITS, p. 290-291) tells which presidents smoked, and what. And the one First Lady who smoked (never in public)

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