Monday, February 19, 2024

Executive Reading Decisions

Today is Presidents’ Day here in the United States, honoring the birthdays of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln (although neither of them was actually born on February 19). An alternative interpretation is that this third Monday of February holiday celebrates all 45 men who have served as the nation’s chief executive, though some of those individuals are far better respected than others.

A just-released poll of historians names Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson as the best U.S. presidents. Joe Biden, who’s accomplished so much as the latest commander-in-chief, occupies the 14th spot in that survey (right before Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and Ulysses S. Grant), while his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, comes in 7th place. Donald Trump—who lost the presidency in 2020 after a single disastrous term (which among other things, left 400,000 Americans dead from COVID-19), and has since endorsed authoritarian policies that run counter to the country’s democratic values—ranks dead last on this list, placing him even below “the mid-19th-century failures who blundered the country into a civil war or botched its aftermath like James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce and Andrew Johnson,” as Peter Baker wrote yesterday in The New York Times.

But let us set aside politics just now, and concentrate instead on reading. To commemorate this holiday, Mystery Fanfare’s Janet Rudolph has updated her substantial catalogue of presidential crime fiction. Included among its titles are works by Richard Condon, David Baldacci, Jane Langton, Bill Clinton and James Patterson, Anne Holt, Fletcher Knebel, Charles McCarry, Julie Hyzy, Allen Drury, and, well, too many others to name here. Go to Rudolph’s list for ideas on what you might start reading in association with this Presidents’ Day. If you are interested in learning more about several of the books mentioned, refer to this piece I wrote several years ago for CrimeReads.

And did you remember to hang your flag out today?

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

It is too bad that I have come to associate hanging a flag outside with fealty to MAGA and its values.