Friday, February 17, 2012

William Howard Taft, Now and Then

I don't work on Presidents Day, so that also means no blog post on Presidents Day. However, this being the weekend of all things presidential, here's an update on Paul and my project to read a biography on each commander-in-chief.

At the end of January I finished a biography on William Howard Taft, who was unsuccessfully running for a second term in office100 years ago. Taft gets the short shrift, I think. Nothing very exciting happened during his term, and any officeholder must seem like a letdown after Teddy Roosevelt. Who can compete with him? On the other hand, nearly everyone can compete with Taft. The entire Brooklyn Public Library system only seemed to have one biography on him that wasn't written for children. It was published in 1930, the year he died.

But maybe Taft will finally get the recognition he deserves. While Paul catches up, I read "Taft 2012," a recently published book brought to us by the same people who came out with "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters."

"Taft 2012" begins with Taft awaking after a long hibernation, having gone missing on Woodrow Wilson's inauguration day in 1913. Hijinks (and plenty of fat jokes) commence as we learn how Taft copes in a world of Twinkies, improved race relations and video-game golf. Of course, politics doesn't stay out of the mix for the newly revived Taft and his great-granddaughter, a congresswoman from Ohio.

As an Ohio native myself, I particularly enjoyed the references and scenes in Cincinnati, however unbelievable some parts were. Does anyone abbreviate Cincinnati as Cinci? And they really rented out Great American Ball Park during a June weekend, right in the middle of baseball season? But if a book revolves around a hibernating former president, I guess everything is fair game.

I suspect I'm one of the few readers of the book who first plowed through an actual Taft biography. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. But I do recommend "Taft 2012." Happy Presidents Day, and don't forget to catch up on Paul's blog!

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