Book Review: Andrew Johnson: The Renaissance of an American Politician, by Garry Boulard

POTUS #17 - Lincoln's successor screwed up Reconstruction and was the first president to be impeached.

Andrew Johnson: The Renaissance of an American Politician

iUniverse, 2021, 310 pages

Few presidents have been as eviscerated in history as Andrew Johnson, who suddenly on a rainy morning in April of 1865 became the nation's new chief executive upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. A man who rose from dire poverty through a sheer primal force of will, Johnson was elected to every level of government 'always taking his case to the people' in a remarkable, if often chaotic career that included service as a state legislator, member of Congress, Governor of Tennessee, U.S. Senator, vice-president, and finally the presidency itself. During the Civil War, Johnson bravely stood up to Confederates, his life repeatedly threatened serving at Lincoln's pleasure as the Military Governor of Tennessee and pushing for an end to slavery. Yet he is the same man who, upon succeeding Lincoln, could not see his way clear to securing the full Constitutional rights for ex-slaves. Because of his endless fights and many confrontations, Johnson's presidency has since been roundly condemned as one of the most disastrous in U.S. history. Johnson, notes Page Smith in his seminal People's History series, put on full display "a reckless and demonic spirit that drove him to excess, to violence, harsh words and actions." "He was thrust into a role that required tact, flexibility, and sensitivity to the nuance of public opinion-qualities that Lincoln possessed in abundance, but that Johnson lacked," asserts historian Eric Foner, "He was an angry man," notes David Stewart, a chronicler of Johnson's impeachment trial, "and he was rigid, and these were qualities that served him terribly as president." Yet, for all of the scholarly indictments of the 17th President, indictments supported by a recent Siena College Research Institute historians' survey placing him at the bottom in overall performance, Andrew Johnson challenges us as a singularly American story of triumph, defeat, and renewal, a man who overcame the challenges of poverty, class, and alienation to reach the highest peaks of power in the country. That drive was ironically most tellingly on display after Johnson left the White House, denied even the opportunity of a party nomination for another term in office. From the ashes of that loss, Johnson methodically rose again, winning election to the U.S. Senate and improbably returning to national prominence. Andrew Johnson's renaissance, coming 6 years after an unprecedented effort to impeach and remove him from the presidency, represents one of the greatest comebacks in American political history and serves as a testament to a man who could never be totally defeated.

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Also by Garry Boulard: My review of The Worst President: The Story of James Buchanan.

My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: The Island of Lost Girls, by Alex Marwood

A gritty novel about terrible rich people turning a Mediterranean island into their personal kink dungeon.

The Island of Lost Girls

Sphere, 2022, 400 pages

Sun-drenched glamour and obscene wealth hide the darkest of secrets and lost girls in this ripped-from-the-headlines thriller.


For 12-year-old Mercedes, La Kastellana is the place she calls home. It is an island untouched by the modern world, with deep-rooted traditions—though that is all about to change with the arrival of multimillionaire Matthew Meade and his spoiled young daughter, Tatiana. The Meades bring with them unimaginable wealth, but the price they will all pay is far darker than Mercedes and the islanders could ever have imagined.


Robin is desperately searching for her 17-year-old daughter Gemma, who has been missing for over a year. Finding herself on La Kastellana, the island playground of the international jet set, Robin is out of her depth. Nobody wants to help and Robin fears she is running out of time to find her child.

But someone has been watching, silently waiting for their moment to expose the dark truth and reveal to the world what really happens on the island of lost girls.

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Also by Alex Marwood: My reviews of The Wicked Girls, The Killer Next Door, The Darkest Secret, and The Poison Garden.

My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: Slayers: A Buffyverse Story, by Amber Benson and Christopher Golden

An unofficial eighth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Slayers: A Buffyverse Novel

Audible Originals, 2023

Original cast members from the beloved TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reunite for an all-new adventure about connections that never die—even if you bury them.

A decade has passed since the epic final battle that concluded Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV). The game-changing spell that gave power to all potential Slayers persists. With new Slayers constantly emerging, things are looking grim for the bad guys. Rebellious vampire Spike (James Marsters) is working undercover in Los Angeles with his old pal Clem (James Charles Leary) when he meets feisty, rookie Slayer, Indira (Laya DeLeon Hayes), who wants Spike to be her mentor. Stakes intensify as Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) emerges from an alternate reality where she alone is the Slayer, and Buffy Summers doesn’t exist. Cordelia enlists Spike’s help with a classic big bad terrorizing her world…his ex, Drusilla (Juliet Landau). Giles (Anthony Head), Anya (Emma Caulfield Ford), Jonathan (Danny Strong), and Tara (Amber Benson) also return, but through the years and the vastness of the multiverse, not everyone is who they used to be…

Slayers: A Buffyverse Story is written and directed by Amber Benson and Chris Golden, and co-directed by Kc Wayland.

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My complete list of book reviews.