“Chris Picks” for November: It’s Presidential!

Here are this month’s great recommendations from staff member Christopher Jennings Penders. Click on a title to place a hold. You can find previous Chris Picks through the “What to read” link at the bottom of this page or type “Chris Picks” into the search bar on our homepage.

Write it When I’m Gone
Thomas DeFrank

An excellent read for anyone who grew up during the Watergate era, as this book brings up some humorous memories of President Ford’s time in office, as well as some of the more serious tones of the era. One of my favorite things about reading history that happened when I was growing up is being able to say, “Yeah. I remember that.”

Write It When I’m Gone was just all-out fun because I was able to identify with the period being discussed in the book. It is also a valuable piece of literature for those who didn’t grow up during the time, as they can get a glimpse of what was happening during the Watergate era and beyond.

JFK and the Unspeakable
James W. Douglass

Fred R., one of Scranton Library’s regular members who also belongs to a library book club, recommended JFK and the Unspeakable to me. What a book! One of the reasons I connect with the book is that Thomas Merton, someone with whom I also have a deep connection, parallels the story here.

Another theory as to why JFK was assassinated:
During his short time in office, President Kennedy made a slow but determined shift toward seeking peace. This focus angered the military, his Joint Chiefs, and others in his administration. The anger finally boiled over into the planning and carrying out of JFK’s assassination.

Many facts in the book back up the author’s theory. This book is easy to read and was educational for me. Check it out.

The Last of the President’s Men
Bob Woodward

History is one of my favorite nonfiction genres, especially recent history that happened in my lifetime. One of my favorite eras to read about is President Nixon’s time in office: All the President’s Men. Now we come full circle with Bob Woodward’s (perhaps) final story about that time in the volatile 1970s: The Last of the President’s Men. Alexander Butterfield is the subject of Woodward’s latest book.  What’s fascinating about Butterfield is that he’s the man who installed the secret taping in the Nixon White House, the very system that helped bring down the Nixon Presidency.

Before Butterfield became a Nixon confidant, he was “stuck” in Australia. Wanting back in the game, he gambled on contacting an old friend in Washington, DC who was part of the new Nixon Administration.  Butterfield had known his friend Bob Haldeman for some time, and he contacted Haldeman to inquire about any openings on the Nixon team. Initially, there was nothing available until Haldeman created a position for Butterfield.

That first month in the Nixon White House was anything but smooth for Butterfield, as he came to realize how bizarre President Nixon behaved. But it didn’t take long for the two of them to develop a rapport. If you’re a Watergate aficionado, and you think you’ve seen it and read it all, this book will close the final chapter in that history. Worth the read.

Rawhide Down
Del Quentin Wilber

One of my favorite things about reading recent history books is knowing I lived through the time and can recognize the events. Rawhide Down is a case in point. Del Quentin Wilber does a fantastic job reconstructing the events leading up to and occurring after the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Wilber goes into great detail about John Hinckley’s planned trip to DC. This is one finely written and meticulously researched book for anyone interested in knowing what happened during and immediately following the assassination attempt. 

Share this