Jacki: Grover Cleveland

The President is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman who Dared Expose the Truth, by Matthew Algeo

Shaun heard about this on NPR and talked it up so when I got to Grover Cleveland, I was super excited to scoop this one up. I can easily get lost for days in Wikipedia articles about government conspiracy and secrets that are coming out now. Reading stuff like that has kind of left me with the impression that it is a darn good thing that the public doesn’t know every little thing that goes on behind closed doors in our government.

So what went down: Grover Cleveland found a little lump in his mouth, found out that it was fast-growing cancer and needed to get it taken care of asap. Problem: He was the president and if people knew that he was sick, maybe terminally, they’d flip the eff out. So he gathered a secret team, put them on a boat, pretended they were fishing and had this surgery to remove it.

One of the dudes couldn’t keep a secret so it eventually got out. Cleveland and his wife and his medical team adamantly denied it. A newspaperman got a big scoop and tried to totally out him. Grover Cleveland pretty much made it into a “he said/she said” situation and since he was known for being truthful and moral he won.

Not until years and years later did it come out that he was lying. Also, they saved the tumor in a jar and now it is in a museum and you can look at it. The actual, gross tumor. My question: If they were trying to keep this an actual secret, wouldn’t they have pitched that bad boy into the water or something? Yuck.


I liked this. I did. It wasn’t really as good as I wanted it to be, by the last few chapters I was just like “Yeah, I get it.” because it just kept droning on and on and on. I was impressed with what a broad picture it painted- I felt like I really knew a lot about Grover Cleveland’s early life and his family and rise to prominence- Although it had a focus on the surgery and the fallout from that, it was still a full biography. Good stuff.

Jennie: Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore, by Paul Finkelman

I’m not sure how to write this review because I seriously finished with a deep, burning hate of Millard Fillmore. He hated anyone who wasn’t Caucasian, well-known in the proper circles, and within his list of acceptable religions. Dude was racist, discriminatory, and disgusting.

And yet, I still wanted more on his personal life. This book was short, but covered his political life quite well, but left much of his personal life behind the curtains with just a brief mention here and there. I feel like with some of the less popular presidents the biography options are limited to either – more on his personal life – or – focused on his political life – but not much that combines them both.

There was much eye-rolling and desire to set the book on fire (although not at the fault of the author) while reading about this president. I half wish I could’ve just skipped over him. Blech.

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