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Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House

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Project President is a hilarious romp through American electoral history. From short, fat, bald John Adams' wig-throwing tantrums during the 1800 election to Abraham Lincoln's decision to grow a beard in 1860; from John F. Kennedy's choice to forgo the fedora at his inauguration to John Kerry's decision to get Botoxed for the 2004 race; from the Golden Age of Facial Hair Project President is a hilarious romp through American electoral history. From short, fat, bald John Adams' wig-throwing tantrums during the 1800 election to Abraham Lincoln's decision to grow a beard in 1860; from John F. Kennedy's choice to forgo the fedora at his inauguration to John Kerry's decision to get Botoxed for the 2004 race; from the Golden Age of Facial Hair (1860-1912) to the Age of the Banker (1912-1960); from Washington's false teeth to George W. Bush's workout regimen, Project President tells the story of America's love affair with presidential looks and appearance, why that often matters more than a politico's positions on the issues, and what might well be coming next. "I'm constantly citing the power of dress. It's semiology: our clothes send a message about how we want to be perceived, and where is this more powerful and evident than in elected offices. In Project President, Ben Shapiro captures presidential semiotics with a potent narrative and deft analysis.  It's simultaneously fascinating and hilarious!" -Tim Gunn Project Runway, Liz Claiborne, Inc.   "Ben Shapiro takes a romp through American history and shows how personality--and even haircuts--have elected or defeated presidential candidates.  It's a tour through history that fans of both parties will enjoy-and can learn from." -Michael Barone Resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute Senior Writer, U.S. News & World Report Co-author, The Almanac of American Politics   "Presidential politics has always been more superficial than we'd like to admit. With a stylish and likeable touch befitting a strong candidate, Ben Shapiro takes us deep into the shallowness that has shaped American history." -Jonathan Alter Newsweek   "Shapiro deftly explains how height, hair and handsomeness can affect a candidate's campaign as much as issues. A fun, informative read." -Glenn Beck Nationally syndicated talk show host Host of CNN's The Glenn Beck Show "A hilarious and illuminating journey through America's centuries-long fascination with presidential image-making. Whether you're left, right, moderate or apathetic, this lively book will get you ready for the packaging of the '08 races." -Jim Hightower "This is a perceptive, witty-sometimes hilarious-look at the realities behind the faces and the facades, the slogans and the character assassinations, of each presidential campaign from George Washington to today - with much for us to ponder for tomorrow." -Sir Martin Gilbert Official biographer of Winston Churchill  "An entertaining and illuminating romp through the politics of symbolism and personality in our presidential politics. If you're thinking of running for president, read this book before you spend a dime on a political consultant." -Rich Lowry National Review   COLMES: Who do you want [for the Supreme Court]? ANN COULTER: Thank you for asking. I want Ben Shapiro. COLMES: Ben Shapiro. ANN COULTER: Yes. He just finished his first year at Harvard Law, 21 years old. COLMES: You mean for a date or for the court? ANN COULTER: No, for the court. He's my candidate. He's very bright. He's already written one best-selling book. (CROSSTALK) COLMES: You want to put a 21-year-old guy on the court? ANN COULTER: Twenty-one, and he's just finished first year of Harvard Law. COLMES: So you want someone who's going to be on the court for 50, 60 years? Is that - is that the whole idea? ANN COULTER: No, I just happen to like Ben Shapiro. Hannity and Colmes Fox News Channel July 8, 2005


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Project President is a hilarious romp through American electoral history. From short, fat, bald John Adams' wig-throwing tantrums during the 1800 election to Abraham Lincoln's decision to grow a beard in 1860; from John F. Kennedy's choice to forgo the fedora at his inauguration to John Kerry's decision to get Botoxed for the 2004 race; from the Golden Age of Facial Hair Project President is a hilarious romp through American electoral history. From short, fat, bald John Adams' wig-throwing tantrums during the 1800 election to Abraham Lincoln's decision to grow a beard in 1860; from John F. Kennedy's choice to forgo the fedora at his inauguration to John Kerry's decision to get Botoxed for the 2004 race; from the Golden Age of Facial Hair (1860-1912) to the Age of the Banker (1912-1960); from Washington's false teeth to George W. Bush's workout regimen, Project President tells the story of America's love affair with presidential looks and appearance, why that often matters more than a politico's positions on the issues, and what might well be coming next. "I'm constantly citing the power of dress. It's semiology: our clothes send a message about how we want to be perceived, and where is this more powerful and evident than in elected offices. In Project President, Ben Shapiro captures presidential semiotics with a potent narrative and deft analysis.  It's simultaneously fascinating and hilarious!" -Tim Gunn Project Runway, Liz Claiborne, Inc.   "Ben Shapiro takes a romp through American history and shows how personality--and even haircuts--have elected or defeated presidential candidates.  It's a tour through history that fans of both parties will enjoy-and can learn from." -Michael Barone Resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute Senior Writer, U.S. News & World Report Co-author, The Almanac of American Politics   "Presidential politics has always been more superficial than we'd like to admit. With a stylish and likeable touch befitting a strong candidate, Ben Shapiro takes us deep into the shallowness that has shaped American history." -Jonathan Alter Newsweek   "Shapiro deftly explains how height, hair and handsomeness can affect a candidate's campaign as much as issues. A fun, informative read." -Glenn Beck Nationally syndicated talk show host Host of CNN's The Glenn Beck Show "A hilarious and illuminating journey through America's centuries-long fascination with presidential image-making. Whether you're left, right, moderate or apathetic, this lively book will get you ready for the packaging of the '08 races." -Jim Hightower "This is a perceptive, witty-sometimes hilarious-look at the realities behind the faces and the facades, the slogans and the character assassinations, of each presidential campaign from George Washington to today - with much for us to ponder for tomorrow." -Sir Martin Gilbert Official biographer of Winston Churchill  "An entertaining and illuminating romp through the politics of symbolism and personality in our presidential politics. If you're thinking of running for president, read this book before you spend a dime on a political consultant." -Rich Lowry National Review   COLMES: Who do you want [for the Supreme Court]? ANN COULTER: Thank you for asking. I want Ben Shapiro. COLMES: Ben Shapiro. ANN COULTER: Yes. He just finished his first year at Harvard Law, 21 years old. COLMES: You mean for a date or for the court? ANN COULTER: No, for the court. He's my candidate. He's very bright. He's already written one best-selling book. (CROSSTALK) COLMES: You want to put a 21-year-old guy on the court? ANN COULTER: Twenty-one, and he's just finished first year of Harvard Law. COLMES: So you want someone who's going to be on the court for 50, 60 years? Is that - is that the whole idea? ANN COULTER: No, I just happen to like Ben Shapiro. Hannity and Colmes Fox News Channel July 8, 2005

30 review for Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House

  1. 4 out of 5

    Beverly Hollandbeck

    Read the whole title. It's supposed to be humorous and clever. It was neither, just a comparison of campaign styles. But early on, when the author identified Jimmy Carter as the former governor of Alabama, I realized that mistake changed the way I was reading. Now, instead of reading for content, I was looking for errors. No way to read a book unlesss you're a copyeditor/fact checker, which apparently this book didn't have.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    If further editions are released, Shapiro might want to tone down the sexism and homophobia.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    A few amusing stories but really nothing new. I was also disappointed with some of the errors in the book. There are better books on the subject.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chrystal

    2.5 stars. Not Shapiro's best book, but has interesting and funny anecdotes about some presidential candidates (perhaps a bit more variety would have helped - he seems to have focused on a handful of candidates alone). Unfortunately a lot of repetition. Skimmed the last two chapters which were superfluous and repetitive. I enjoyed it overall but got a bit bored at times.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carol Tensen

    Ben Shapiro’s Project Presidents provides an entertaining overview of optics in presidential races. Given his editor-at-large post at Breitbart, I was expecting more digs at the Democratic party (and by that I mean, post the WWI Democratic party). When he was discussing Adlai Stevenson’s disasterous two runs he missed an opportunity to bring up the “hole in his shoe” campaign gimmick designed to bring old Adlai down to earth. In a couple of notable cases, Shapiro did let a couple of Republicans Ben Shapiro’s Project Presidents provides an entertaining overview of optics in presidential races. Given his editor-at-large post at Breitbart, I was expecting more digs at the Democratic party (and by that I mean, post the WWI Democratic party). When he was discussing Adlai Stevenson’s disasterous two runs he missed an opportunity to bring up the “hole in his shoe” campaign gimmick designed to bring old Adlai down to earth. In a couple of notable cases, Shapiro did let a couple of Republicans off the hook. In the discussion of height, he said that Bush senior didn't resort to meanness toward Dukasis. He didn’t have to - he had Lee Atwater* do all his dirty work. The repeated clips of Dukasis in the tank did the trick. We all know Ronald Reagan was elected in spite of his age, but many think that his vigor and acuteness were exaggerated. Many of us remember how he was unable to answer questions during Iran Contra hearings, claiming not to remember. However, his assessment of Bob Dole was right on the money. On the plus side, this book whetted my appetite to read more about earlier presidential races. Even before TV and the 24-hour news cycle, optics were still a factor. * I recommend watching Boogeyman: “The Lee Atwater Story”.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I liked this one. Kind of took you through the psyche of the American public as far as how we vote, and it is not usually on just issues. I don't know that it is entirely scientifically sound, but I liked it anyway.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joneen

    This was an interesting read. From the subtitle, I expected it to be a bit more humorous, and short. I expected it to deal literally with the ways candidates would manipulate (for better or worse) their physical appearance. In actuality, Ben spends 7 chapters looking at 7 factors affecting campaigns down through the centuries: everyman/elitism, height, military service, age & experience, friendliness/chumminess, hair, and spousal influence. Physical appearance made up only 2 of these This was an interesting read. From the subtitle, I expected it to be a bit more humorous, and short. I expected it to deal literally with the ways candidates would manipulate (for better or worse) their physical appearance. In actuality, Ben spends 7 chapters looking at 7 factors affecting campaigns down through the centuries: everyman/elitism, height, military service, age & experience, friendliness/chumminess, hair, and spousal influence. Physical appearance made up only 2 of these chapters, and even then, it was more about how their appearance as it already was affected their campaigns - none could do anything about their height (though there were a couple funny anecdotes about shorter candidates who tried to), and none significantly changed their hair for their candidacy, save one notable, and endearing example: (view spoiler)[Lincoln grew his beard longer prompted by the request of an eleven-year old girl. (hide spoiler)] And as for botox, it literally garnered a one-time, one-word mention in relation to conjectures about a candidate's wife. Despite it being different than expected, I enjoyed the book. I thought it read a bit too "narrator" in voice - I'm a listener to Ben's podcast, and would've enjoyed it if he imbued it with more of his personality - but it was a pleasant surprise to get a more overall tour through the history of campaigns, rather than just the narrow focus of physical appearance. I also enjoyed some of the chapter titles for each factor: "Suits vs. Boots" for the idea of being an elitist vs. an everyman, "Beer Buddy Syndrome" for friendliness/chumminess. And Ben didn't just leave it at looking at those 7 factors and then go home - an additional chapter ranks the top 10 presidents and the 5 worst candidates according to these 7 factors (with some surprising results), and then he also proceeds to assess potential 2008 candidates according to these 7 factors. He didn't miss the mark too much! But the capstone that really gave some purpose to all this analysis, beyond mere interest, was the final chapter where he asks: does it really matter? Shouldn't we care about policy positions over image and PR in our candidates? And Ben, in succinct and convincing fashion, explains why image matters - and why it should. In a surprising turn, he uses all the forgoing chapters to add weight and drive home his culminating point: to remind us that we are a Republic, and why this means that the character of our representatives matters even more than their policy positions. And this is where I felt Ben's voice come out - the thing that brings me back to his podcast time and again: his advocacy for and championing of a return to character and virtue in our society. And as crazy as it seems, the PR factors we obsess over do add up to a complete picture of a man's nature - one that Americans have done a fairly good job of sussing out down through the centuries, and have only on a few occasions been swayed by an empty good image over ugly substance. That doesn't mean that every President has been perfect, but it does mean that when Americans are choosing which candidate is more trustworthy (or less untrustworthy) than the other - they've rarely gotten it wrong. And image has a lot to do with that - policy positions can come and go, but character is forever.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Astley Siwela

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Although beautifully written and much of the arguments therein clear, the structuring of the book makes it difficult to follow. Ben Shapiro jumps from one presidential race to the next. He speaks of the Eisenhower-Stevenson election in one instance and then transitions to writing about the Reagan-Bush election in another and then an 1800's election in the next. This jumping across different election cycles makes the book exhausting to read as it lacks sequencing. Also, the overemphasis on Although beautifully written and much of the arguments therein clear, the structuring of the book makes it difficult to follow. Ben Shapiro jumps from one presidential race to the next. He speaks of the Eisenhower-Stevenson election in one instance and then transitions to writing about the Reagan-Bush election in another and then an 1800's election in the next. This jumping across different election cycles makes the book exhausting to read as it lacks sequencing. Also, the overemphasis on certain arguments when the point has already been put across feeds into the book being an average read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    JR Snow

    Just Okay. Some minor factual errors, stilted writing style, an repetition make this a mildly interesting but interestingly mild polititcal book for me. The parts about John Kerry's image issues (the 1,000 dollar haircut) and the Suits vs Boots paradigm were the most interesting. Shapiro is still growing as a writer; these early books (this one published 2007) seem half-baked. His later stuff is probably better, as the man is clearly a seminal thinker and analyst.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anne Meester

    3.5 Stars -This was funny and informative, but dated itself with the analysis of the 2008 presidential hopefuls.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    This was quite amusing to read in an election year. Voters have been rather shallow all through history. A few choice quotes: "[William Henry] Harrison had been chosen because he had no political convictions whatsoever..." Advice given to the party was, "Let him say not one single word about his principles or his creed -- let him say nothing - promise nothing. Let no committee, no convention -- no town meeting ever extract from him a single word about what he thinks now, or what he will do This was quite amusing to read in an election year. Voters have been rather shallow all through history. A few choice quotes: "[William Henry] Harrison had been chosen because he had no political convictions whatsoever..." Advice given to the party was, "Let him say not one single word about his principles or his creed -- let him say nothing - promise nothing. Let no committee, no convention -- no town meeting ever extract from him a single word about what he thinks now, or what he will do hereafter." And of course, he was elected. Re Zachary Taylor: "Taylor was also a political nonentity, an empty uniform. He had been a registered voter for forty years, but he had never voted. Taylor could not spell, 'stuttered and squinted, lacked formal education, and was incapable of delivering a passable political speech.'" And of course, he was elected. Thomas Jefferson paid a scurrilous journalist to spread libel about his opponent. Adams hated Alexander Hamilton, whom he labeled "the bastard brat of a Scots peddler" and said Hamilton's legendary ambition came from "a superabundance of secretions which he could not find enough whores to draw off." (And we think Trump is bad!). During Eisenhower's campaigns, "FBI agents were planted in major hotels and told to loudly discuss [Adlai] Stevenson's alleged homosexuality. Stevenson, they said, had been arrested in New York and Illinois for lewd acts; he frequented gay bars under the name 'Adelaide;' he had an affair with the president of Bradley University." Re LBJ: "Before male and female aides, the president stalked about naked, burped, broke wind, urinated and defecated -- all while talking politics. When one of his friends visited the White House from Texas, LBJ promptly unzipped his pants, whipped out his genitals, and asked 'Have you ever seen anything as big as this?' Johnson was promiscuous...he engaged in sex in the Oval Office with at least 6 different women." The book is pretty darn educational.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Unfortunately, I don't get around to reading much non-fiction these days. Fortunately, however, I found a book that reads as quick as fiction, doesn't require too much thinking, and is funny and interesting to boot! (I hate that that saying by the way...."to boot"...to boot what?) Anyhow, this book talked about how people throughout history have been impacted by a presidential candidate's looks and mannerisms. From Abe Lincoln's beard and top hat to John Kerry's $1000 haircut, this book covers Unfortunately, I don't get around to reading much non-fiction these days. Fortunately, however, I found a book that reads as quick as fiction, doesn't require too much thinking, and is funny and interesting to boot! (I hate that that saying by the way...."to boot"...to boot what?) Anyhow, this book talked about how people throughout history have been impacted by a presidential candidate's looks and mannerisms. From Abe Lincoln's beard and top hat to John Kerry's $1000 haircut, this book covers it all. What I found really interesting was how beards became popular after Lincoln and 3 or 4 (can't remember) Union Generals became president (with beards) after Lincoln. Anyhow, it's worth a look! :) Funny too! :)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jenifer

    A fun and entertaining policital book looking at aspects of a President we NOTICE most, but say we don't account for when casting our votes. A historical read glossing over many of our presidential greats, Shapiro sets out to show that we really do vote for the 'tall guy', the 'beer buddy', the 'rancher', the 'war hero', etc. That isn't to say that political views and issues aren't paramount in an election, it is more to say that when presenting political views and issues, canidates and A fun and entertaining policital book looking at aspects of a President we NOTICE most, but say we don't account for when casting our votes. A historical read glossing over many of our presidential greats, Shapiro sets out to show that we really do vote for the 'tall guy', the 'beer buddy', the 'rancher', the 'war hero', etc. That isn't to say that political views and issues aren't paramount in an election, it is more to say that when presenting political views and issues, canidates and presidents go for the 'right look' and the 'right style' to put together (& sell!) the presidential package. Wether you lean left or right you'll enjoy the witty and sometimes down-right perceptive observations made from Washington to Obama.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marley

    I probably shouldn't admit this, but I read this book on the endorsement of the wretched Ann Coulter, and I'm glad I did. Shapiro is definitey a Coultler-type, but there's some great stories about and quotes from former presidents, candiates, and their handlers here that make Donald Trump look downright civil. If you think the current campaign is dirty, then you need to read this book. On the downside it could have used a real editor and less political asides reflecting the author's own I probably shouldn't admit this, but I read this book on the endorsement of the wretched Ann Coulter, and I'm glad I did. Shapiro is definitey a Coultler-type, but there's some great stories about and quotes from former presidents, candiates, and their handlers here that make Donald Trump look downright civil. If you think the current campaign is dirty, then you need to read this book. On the downside it could have used a real editor and less political asides reflecting the author's own politics, but hey.. It's worth it just read about LBJs pechant for showing off his gentleman parts.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Wilson

    Interesting report on presidential characteristics. If I were teaching The Presidency or methods this semester, I might use it and have students develop their own prediction of the winner. It is a bit redundant and cumbersome reading, but the author provides variables that are worth consideration.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Great book-explains the importance of image in a candidacy. Most people make up their mind about the characteristics of another person within 10 seconds of meeting them (or viewing them on television) based on looks alone. This book is not only well written and interesting, but has a sly sense of humor. Fun!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Denise Patrishkoff

    Entertaining look at image and politics It generally kept my attention. The end rankings were interesting. It's not for everyone but I enjoyed it. Would like to read rankings of the current candidates.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Russ

    Entertaining. Perfect read for a 3 hour flight during a presidential election year.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Dixon

    Found some historical mistakes in the writing so I stopped reading

  20. 5 out of 5

    David

    President s Enjoyed this book that discusses what we the voters think about an individual as we consider whether to vote for them!

  21. 5 out of 5

    CSamitier

  22. 4 out of 5

    Courtney McCall

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michele Davis

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  26. 5 out of 5

    simon herbst

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Pannabecker

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  29. 4 out of 5

    Donna

  30. 5 out of 5

    Liam

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