March 19, 2010

President James Buchanan's Memoirs

The Political Bookworm blog recently asked a number of past and present politicos to offer up their opinion of the least accurate political memoir ever written. While contemporary works get their fair share of raspberries, one Civil War-era memoir is suggested for the prize.

That book would be Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion, the presidential memoirs of James Buchanan, which was published in the U.S. by Appleton & Company in 1866. The true first edition however, appears to be the British edition, simply titled The Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion which was published in London by Sampson Low, Son, and Marston in 1865. The book was chosen by Douglas Brinkley, author and professor of history at Rice University. Brinkley writes that, "Buchanan had the gall to shirk all responsibility for the Civil War. He blamed everybody but himself for the dissolution of the Union. A pathetic memoir aimed at trying to exonerate himself from serial wrongheadedness and flatfooted policy initiatives. What Buchanan wrote was revisionist blather."

I admit to not being all that familiar with this book. From a book collector's perspective, American first editions do not seem to be all that common, yet on the other hand, not all that pricey either, despite being the first-ever published presidential memoir.

No comments: