Is the American Presidents Series a good way to study?

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TaBellaria
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Is the American Presidents Series a good way to study?

Post by TaBellaria » Sun May 20, 2018 9:41 am

I was looking at sources for studying presidents and I found a series which I think will help. The reason I am asking is that the books seem to be much shorter than other biographies, numbering at around 200 pages each. I am looking for a way to at least power the questions consistently while reading books about the topic instead of other methods like reading packets and creating flashcards as I do not like to use those methods.

http://americanpresidentsseries.com/index.htm
Leo Chang
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Skepticism and Animal Feed
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Re: Is the American Presidents Series a good way to study?

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon May 21, 2018 9:52 am

I have never read any of those books. I suspect that, given their length and their target audience, they will not have the level of detail to give you information that will consistently come up in the first lines of tossups about US Presidents. That does not mean they're not worth your time.

I suspect that what they'll be good for is flagging stuff for future study and learning. Any biography, even a 200 page bio, will need to give you some background on the era that the person lived in. When reading that summary of the President's era, look for tidbits that seem important or interesting and do more research on them. This additional research will give you the detail you need to consistently power history tossups.

For example, hopefully the 200 page Andrew Jackson biography will include a cursory overview of the Second Bank of the United States and the "Bank War" that ensued when Jackson refused to re-charter it. It might even mention that Nicholas Biddle was the President of the Second Bank of the United States, or it might not. Ideally, when you read that part, you will be inspired to google "Second Bank of the United States" and learn a lot more about it, and perhaps additional lead-in type facts like that Nicholas Biddle edited the magazine "Port-Folio" or served as the US representative at Napoleon's coronation. Or, when the 200 page Andrew Jackson bio covers the major points of the Nullification Crisis, you might be inspired to google that and end up reading the Webster-Hayne debate or learning about the Force Act and the fact that future US President John Tyler was the only Senator to vote against the Force Act.

Especially if you don't know much about US Presidents going into this exercise, reading high level, cursory stuff can be great for identifying what you want to learn more about. Go into it with curiosity and a burning desire to learn even more, not the sense that at the end you'll be a complete player.
Bruce
Harvard '10 / UChicago '07 / Roycemore School '04
ACF Member emeritus
My guide to using Wikipedia as a question source

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