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The strength and prestige of the American presidency has waxed and waned since George Washington. Accidental Presidents looks at eight men who came to the office without being elected to it. It demonstrates how the character of the man in that powerful seat affects the nation and world.

Eight men have succeeded to the presidency when the incumbent died in office. In one way or another they vastly changed our history. Only Theodore Roosevelt would have been elected in his own right. Only TR, Truman, Coolidge, and LBJ were re-elected.

John Tyler succeeded William Henry Harrison who died 30 days into his term. He was kicked out of his party and became the first president threatened with impeachment. Millard Fillmore succeeded esteemed General Zachary Taylor. He immediately sacked the entire cabinet and delayed an inevitable Civil War by standing with Henry Clay's compromise of 1850. Andrew Johnson, who succeeded our greatest president, sided with remnants of the Confederacy in Reconstruction. Chester Arthur, the embodiment of the spoils system, was so reviled as James Garfield's successor that he had to defend himself against plotting Garfield's assassination; but he reformed the civil service. Theodore Roosevelt broke up the trusts. Calvin Coolidge silently cooled down the Harding scandals and preserved the White House for the Republican Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression. Truman surprised everybody when he succeeded the great FDR and proved an able and accomplished president. Lyndon B. Johnson was named to deliver Texas electorally. He led the nation forward on Civil Rights but failed on Vietnam.

Accidental Presidents adds immeasurably to our understanding of the power and limits of the American presidency in critical times.

About the Author

Jared Cohen

Jared Cohen (born November 24, 1981 in Weston, Connecticut) is a non-fiction author. In September 2006, he was named as the youngest member to the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff, where he focuses on counter-terrorism, counter-radicalization, and some Middle East/North Africa issues. Prior to his work at the State Department, Cohen received his BA from Stanford University and his M.Phil in International Relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. Cohen is author of several books. His first, One Hundred Days of Silence: American and the Rwanda Genocide, was published in 2006 by Rowman & Littlefield and chronicles U.S. policy toward Rwanda during the 1994 Genocide. His second book, Children of Jihad: A Young American's Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East, was published by Penguin Books (Gotham) in October 2007 and has also been published as an audio book and translated into Dutch. Cohen's work on Children of Jihad has received the endorsements of names like Tom Brokaw, Frank Carlucci, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Lugar, and Chris Matthews. Children of Jihad was starred by Kirkus Review and selected as one of the "Best Books of 2007." Additional publications include The Passive Revolution: Is Political Resistance Dead or Alive in Iran (Hoover Digest, 2005) and Iran's Young Opposition (SAIS Review, 2006) . Jared frequently appears in the media: he has been featured in The New Yorker and appeared on The Colbert Report, CNN, ABC, Headline News, Current TV, NPR, Fox News, MSNBC, BBC, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, and a variety of other TV and radio programs both domestic and international. He is frequently asked to speak at domestic and international conferences hosted by think tanks, the public sector, the military, the private sector, and foundations. In April/May 2007, Cohen was a judge at the Tribeca Film Festival.

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