Item description for The Warm Bucket Brigade: The Story of the American Vice Presidency by Jeremy Lott...
Overview Collects anecdotes about notable American vice-presidents, including Aaron Burr, Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Dick Cheney.
What Do You Know about America's Vice Presidents?
(The official quiz that you, the reader, should take right now to determine if you need this book)
How many vice presidents went on to become president?
How many sitting presidents died or were forced from office?
How many vice presidents shot men while in office?
Who was the better shot?
Who was the first vice president to assume power when a president died?
Why did he return official letters without reading them?
What vice president was almost torn limb form limb in Venezuela?
Which former VP was tried for treason for trying to start his own empire in the Southwest?
How many vice presidents were assassinated?
In the next presidential election, should you worry about the candidates for vice president?
(Bonus challenge: For extra points, name the men that the vice presidents shot )
See answers below. No cheating
The vice presidency isn't worth "a bucket of warm spit"
That's the prudish version of what John Nance Garner had to say about the office--several years after serving as VP under FDR. Was he right?
The vice presidency is one of America's most historically complicated, intriguing, and underappreciated public offices. And Jeremy Lott's sweeping, hilarious, and insightful history introduces readers to the unusual and sometimes shadowy cast of characters that have occupied it:
Aaron Burr, the only VP tried for treason
John Tyler, president without a party
Andrew Johnson, defiant drunkard
Thomas Marshall, who should have been president
Richard Nixon, underdog and daredevil
Gerald Ford, icon of the 1970s
Al Gore, the most frustrated man in America
And, of course, the real Dick Cheney
With crisp prose, Lott focuses on their bitter rivalries and rank ambitions, their glorious victories and tragic setbacks. At the end of hundreds of historical vignettes, interviews, and pilgrimages to obscure places, Lott concludes that the vice presidency is an invaluable political institution that tends to frustrate the ambitions of America's most ambitious politicans--an ungainly launch pad for future political success and a drunk tank for those who would imbibe too deeply of power.
Answers to Quiz
Fourteen of the forty-three presidents were vice president
It's happened eight times so far
Aaron Burr and Dick Cheney
Because he insisted on being called "president," not "vice president" or "acting president"
Aaron Burr (him again )
None, though an assassin was hired to kill Andrew Johnson
See answers one and two and then ask yourself, "Does America feel lucky?"
Answers to bonus challenge: Alexander Hamilton and Harry Whittington
0-4 You are a novice who should probably buy this book
5-8 You are a history buff who should love this book
9-12 You are a smart cookie who should appear on Jeopardy--and buy this book for show prep
From Publishers Weekly The vice presidency of the United States may be an awkward, ill-defined creation, but it has now inspired the book it probably deserves, a chatty, discursive chronicle that wobbles uncertainly between Veep 101, comic fable and perceptive political commentary. Despite his lighthearted style, it's clear that Lott, an accomplished writer and widely published columnist, has not only researched his topic carefully, but is also, as his discussions of vice presidents Nixon and Tyler reveal, prepared to come to his own, occasionally unconventional, conclusions. That said, he throws in so many jokes (some good, some startlingly bad), breezy asides and anecdotes (including the revelation that the bucket filled with a warm liquid to which FDR's John Nance Garner famously compared the vice presidency allegedly contained something less appealing than spit) that they drown out the overall story. This confusion is compounded by the way Lott's narrative is disproportionately focused on those vice presidents who made it to the White House. The vice presidency's current significance is another matter. It has, as Lott notes, become a real source of power in its own right. However, those looking for a serious understanding of the vice presidency are best advised to look elsewhere. (Mar. 11) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Warm Bucket Brigade: The Story of the American Vice Presidency by Jeremy Lott has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Publishers Weekly - 12/24/2007 page 36
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Studio: Thomas Nelson
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.56" Width: 5.94" Height: 1.12" Weight: 0.98 lbs.
Release Date Mar 11, 2008
Publisher Thomas Nelson
ISBN 1595550828 ISBN13 9781595550828 UPC 020049140673
Availability 0 units.
More About Jeremy Lott
Jeremy Lott has been published in nearly 100 magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, the New York Post, and National Review. Stateside, his work has appeared in outlets from Christianity Today to Seattle's alternative weekly the Stranger. Internationally, the Lott byline has appeared in publications in Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands. A contributing editor to Books & Culture, Lott's work has sparked debate from commentators of every stripe. Conservative Charles Colson has featured his articles in his BreakPoint radio commentaries and bestselling liberal author Chris Mooney called his piece on book burning and free speech the "best counter-intuitive argument ever." Lott is the author of the equally counter-intuitive book, In Defense of Hypocrisy: Picking Sides in the War on Virtue.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Warm Bucket Brigade: The Story of the American Vice Presidency?
Charming, illuminating history of a little understood office Apr 13, 2008
Jeremy Lott has done a bit of the wondrous here. He has taken the history of a little understood or, or for that matter, little noticed political office and made it into an understandable, interesting and often humorous history. Academics and their supporters will probably not like "The Warm Bucket Brigade" for all the reasons just stated: this is an understandable, interesting and frequently funny book that illuminates a barely understood elective office and the more often than not forgotten souls who occupied it. (Can you identify President Polk's Vice President? No Googling allowed!)
The title derives from the famous characterization of the office by John Nance Gardner, one of Franklin Roosevelt's Vice Presidents, who had left a powerful position in the House of Representatives. Consulted by Lyndon Baines Johnson about the wisdom of taking the VP nomination offered by John F. Kennedy, Garner advised the then powerful Senator Johnson that the post wasn't worth a bucket of warm (bodily liquid excretion that is most certainly not spit).
Lott enlivens what would otherwise be a deadly dull excursion into the expired lives of some very dead and largely forgotten men (all VPs have been men to date) by bringing what can be described as a snarky sense of humor to the job. It is, frankly, a welcome attribute and enlivens the book although sometimes Lott does stretch things.
Lott moves straight into the enigma of the Constitutionally created elective office of Vice President of the United States. It is the only elective office that renders its occupant a member of the executive and legislative branches. However, the Constitution fails to enumerate much in the way of power or responsibility to the VP. The VP is, of course, on heartbeat away from the Presidency and can cast a deciding vote when the Senate is tied. But beyond that, the office doesn't really come with much in the way of poltical power or patronage.
By and large, Vice Presidential power and responsibilities have ebbed and flowed, depending both on the incumbent President and the nature of the Vice Presidency. During the current Bush administration, Vice President Cheney has labored hard in behalf of the belief that the Constitution favors a strong executive branch. On the other hand, there is substantial belief that President Clinton was not impeached solely because it would have resulted in a President Gore, who had shown his nature as Vice President. Lott details as well the growth of the modern Vice Presidency through the example of Richard Nixon who became a very effective super ambassador for then President Eisenhower. He then describes how some highly regarded potential presidential aspirants had their hopes destroyed because they occupied the Vice Presidential chair at the wrong time or with the wrong President. Hubert Humphrey was one such casualty.
It must be remembered that all the men who became Vice President were at one time notable and reasonably well known in their time. Some of them, such as Lyndon Johnson and John Nance Gardner, were also remarkably politically powerful before they became VP. Fourteen VPs went on to become Vice President. The rest, by and large, faded into obscurity after their term(s) as Vice President, like, for example, Dan Quayle and Woodrow Wilson's VP, whose name I have forgotten. (Just kidding in an attempt to make the point.)
Lott does these men, the office of the Vice President, history and the nation a favor by recounting in summary detail their histories. At first, I thought Lott's approach was too light-hearted, almost flippant. As I got into the book, I realized that Lott's approach was really on the mark and very much appropriate: a different approach, more serious and academic would probably leave these lives unexplored in a stack of unopened books, gathering dust in a dark corner. Lott has done right by his subjects and his readers with his approach.
For younger readers (anyone under 50 - about half or so of the population), Lott's elucidation of how Vice Presidential candidates were chosen prior to the 1972 campaign will be an education in what American politics used to be.
Lott opens his journey with a visit to the United States Vice Presidential Museum, a former Christian Science Church in Dan Quayle's birthplace, Huntington, Indiana. Uh huh - I never heard of the museum or the town either. He then moves into a history of the office and the men who occupied it.
Not unwisely, Lott spends less time on the less visible vice presidents and more on those who made more of the office or moved into the Presidency, one way or another.
Overall, "The Warm Bucket Brigade" is a fascinating little book (260 pages plus an appendix, notes and index). It casts light on a surprisingly obscure, if potentially powerful, elective office and its largely forgotten occupants. For the student of American history, it is frankly a must-read: there are lots of facts here that I haven't stumbled across in my fifty years of reading - or facts that I have forgotten. As noted, Lott's often humorous approach makes the subject much more accessible than it otherwise would have been.
A delightful read, especially with summer coming up. Whether it's on the beach or waiting for your oft-delayed flight to finally take off, this is a book that anyone with an interest in American history will enjoy.