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Smithsonian Books releases a book that explores the men who are a 'Heartbeat away from the Presidency'
The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power by Jules Witcover. Photo: Smithsonian Books.


WASHINGTON, DC.- The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power, coming from Smithsonian Books Oct. 7, is an all-inclusive examination of the vice presidency throughout the course of American history. Political journalist and author Jules Witcover chronicles each of the 47 vice presidents, including their personal biographies and their achievements—or lack thereof—during their vice presidential tenures. He explores how their roles and responsibilities were first subject to the whims of the presidents under whom they served, but in time came to be expanded by enlightened chief executives and the initiatives of the vice presidents themselves.

Constitutionally assigned only to preside over the Senate as they stand by to fill a presidential vacancy, early vice presidents were left to languish in irrelevance or to engage in political maneuvering and manipulation to gain influence. Only recently have vice presidents received—or taken—more power. As the office was transformed from mere consolation prize to de facto assistant presidency, subsequent vice presidents fought to win and wield the increasingly important role. Walter Mondale, Al Gore, Dick Cheney and Joe Biden are all particularly well known for taking on greater and more significant responsibilities. The American Vice Presidency is a revealing look at this oft-dismissed office.

Title: The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power
Author: Jules Witcover
On-Sale Date: 10/7/2014
Price: $34.95 / Pages: 592
ISBN: 978-1-58834-471-7
Smithsonian Books

Witcover is a syndicated political columnist who has worked for the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, now-defunct Washington Star and Los Angeles Times. He is the author of 14 books on American politics and history and co-author of five others. They include biographies of vice presidents Spiro Agnew and Joe Biden, a history of the Democratic Party and accounts of five presidential campaigns.

"As a top-notch political reporter, Jules Witcover has covered more Vice Presidents than almost anybody. He brings a reporter's touch to his portraits of every Vice President from Adams to Biden, telling us not only about the men and how they approached the job, but also the drama that led to each vice president's selection. It is, in other words, the ultimate veepstakes book: Witcover shows that behind every Vice President there is a fascinating political story --including those who got there through cold political calculation to accidental Vice Presidents like George Dallas, who was chosen as James Polk's running mate only after seven other men turned Polk down. Witcover writes with clarity and vibrancy, presenting a history of the United States through the eyes of our Vice Presidents." - Jonathan Karl, Chief White House Correspondent, ABC News






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September 29, 2014

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