- Close Calls: How Eleven US Presidents Escaped from the Brink of Death by Michael P. Spradlin
Spradlin, Michael P. Close Calls: How Eleven US Presidents Escaped from the Brink of Death. Bloomsbury, 2020 [128p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-5476-0023-6 $18.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-5476-0139-4 $13.29 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 4-6
The tragic fates of the four assassinated presidents are the stuff of history textbooks—but the near-fatalities that could have changed that history are worth consideration as well. How about George Washington's narrow escape from poisoning by peas? Or Andrew Jackson's lucky save from two pistol misfires? John F. Kennedy's survival story from the World War II sinking of his PT boat? Jimmy Carter's close encounter with a broken nuclear reactor? Spradlin sometimes stretches for drama, though, chronicling Dwight Eisenhower's escape from a Nazi assassination attempt that he admits might never have happened, and the narration of the episodes is often chronologically disjointed, or it introduces critical inset material after it would have been useful. Still, the quick chapters, snarky humor, and thrilling topic should be catnip for biography fans and a stranger-than-fiction boon to readers facing an information book report. Quote citations, additional sources for each chapter, and an index are included. Sadly, there are no pictures.