By The Library of Congress
Quirk Books, $40.00, 208 pages

Maybe the camera never lies, but poster artists tend to bend the truth for politicians. Images in this parade of presidential candidates rely more on character representation than facial symmetry. We see how posturing styles and malicious accusations were as prevalent almost two hundred years ago as in more recent times.

Journalist Brooke Gladstone’s preface is a highlight of the saga, a witty introduction to the declarations proclaimed by both successful candidates and wannabes. Facing the posters, biographies and political promises are woven into essays complemented by cartoons of the day. Andrew Jackson leads the procession in 1828, the first of many contenders remembered for witty, earnest, or improbable slogans.

Styles changed in keeping with the times – ‘Well, Dewey or Don’t We?’ may raise a groan today, likewise Gerald Ford portrayed as Fonzie. But the appeal has been always to a contemporary readership and this collection provides a fine perspective on democratic governance.

The book deserves a place in every family, for the children no less than their elders. How better to make history lessons come alive?

Reviewed By Jane Manaster

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