In recent years, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and countless other politicians have made headlines for their sexual scandals. But such stories are not new. Indeed, there is a long history of misbehavior in politics, including in the nation’s highest office. Bill Clinton, it can safely be said, was not the first president to misbehave, nor was he the worst.
In fact, there is a long history of presidential peccadilloes. Many presidents have been influenced and had their careers affected by the hand of a woman, sometimes that of a wife or mother, but at other times that of a mistress. But these stories are rarely told. Instead, history has tended to glorify our leaders. Such a scrubbed version of the lives of presidents, however, omits their marital woes, love lives, and sexual peccadilloes. As Robert P. Watson reveals, it is precisely these intimate and all-too-human moments that provide some of the most valuable insights into our leaders.
Affairs of State is not just about sex and scandal—the “who did it” of history—although such incidents are described in detail. It is a book about love, marriage, and affairs in the White House, offering an intimate character study of the First Couples who made history.
To see the author discuss his book on Inside South Florida, please click here. To see him discuss the book on C-SPAN, please click here.
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Robert P. Watson is professor and director of American studies at Lynn University. He is the author of numerous books on U.S. history and politics. He was the founding editor of the journal White House Studies and serves on several academic and foundation boards. As a political analyst, he is interviewed regularly by national and international media. For his work as a scholar, lecturer, and community activist, Dr. Watson has received a range of awards, including the International Abraham Lincoln Center Award, the Children's Hero Award, and the League of Women Voters’ Good Government Award. He is also the recipient of several teaching excellence awards, including Outstanding Professor of the Year.Review:
There is a goldmine of information here which is likely new to most readers, with all known details about the many sexual liaisons of the 19th century presidents in detail. . . . Affairs of State is a very fascinating book. (The Sun News Network)
Watson's greatest contribution is a series of brief biographical sketches of presidents and a handful of first ladies. . . .[T]he book is a well-paced . . . [with an] exciting introduction. . . .Watson has put together a book that is interesting to read. (The Historian)
Robert P. Watson’s Affairs of State is a fascinating and well-told examination of the great loves and lesser foibles of America’s presidents. A noted presidential scholar, Watson recounts the personal lives of the occupants of the ‘People’s House,’ exploring the human side of U.S. politics through stories that are at once touching, humorous, and sometimes shocking. The work helps fill a vacuum by allowing the reader to explore patterns of behavior that humanize the nation’s presidents. Watson also challenges the conventional mythology that surrounds many of the chief executives by presenting a clearer and deeper understanding of the nation’s leaders and the events that surrounded their presidencies. (Tom Lansford)
Robert Watson is one of the most thoughtful scholars that American studies and political science have produced. No one is more qualified than he to turn his attention to presidential follies and embarrassments. The result is a rollicking romp through political history that is as informative and insightful as it is entertaining. (Max J. Skidmore, University of Missouri-Kansas City)
Affairs of State is a tour de force from one of the leading presidential scholars of our time. This book provides an eloquent, impeccably researched reminder that presidents—including those on Mount Rushmore—are human beings shaped by their intimate relationships, romantic and familial. For everyone interested in the American presidency, Robert P. Watson has written an accessible, compelling book that sheds light on the inner lives, foibles, and crucial relationships that shaped many of the most important presidents. (Douglas M. Brattebo, Hiram College)
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