The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told is the third book in my Greatest Stories series. When I tell the story of how it all began, I usually begin with the pigeon.
On December 16, 1997, said pigeon dropped a bomb load on my shoulder as I walked down east Forty-fifth Street in New York toward the offices of The History Channel.Â Distressed as I was by this unprovoked attack, it turned out to be a good omen.Â The meeting that followed led to my producing the Timelab 2000 series of history minutes, hosted by Sam Waterston.Â (Funny aside:Â After my presentation at The History Channel, network executive Artie Scheff was so stonefaced that I was convinced I had blown it.Â I was in the depths of despair for two days until Artie called and gave us the job.) Â
That meeting changed my life.Â I was an ad agency creative director at the time, reasonably happy, but not feeling like I had really found my place in the world. As a lifelong history enthusiast, I seized this opportunity to produce history content and leave the advertising world behind.Â Timelab 2000 led to other work for The History Channel, including seven hour-long documentaries. It also led to the Greatest Stories books, of which this is the third.Â I am now a full time author and documentary producer, and how cool is that?Â
Each book in the series contains 100 surprising, little known stories from history. A friend of mine calls them "History McNuggets."Â To make the book, each story has to have a great "aha!" Like the fact that George Bush wouldn't be president except for something that happened in 1620.Â Or that John Tyler's life was literally saved by a song. Or that Abraham Lincoln took part in a duel (The saber was his weapon of choice)..Â Then there's Jimmy Carter's UFO sighting, George Washington's whiskey business, Nixon's first burglary (when he was in law school) and John Quincy Adams' skinny dipping in the Potomac.Â Who says history has to be boring!!
Presidents have always fascinated me, and I've been lucky enough to have a few encounters with them myself.Â When I was four years old I saw one of JFK's last campaign speeches.Â In high school I started a lifelong hobby of collecting presidential campaign buttons. As a radio reporter in 1976, I asked President Ford a question at a news conference, and in 1979 I got to meet Jimmy Carter in the White House.Through writing this book I have gotten to know the rest of the presidents too, and believe me, there is plenty about them to astonish, bewilder, and stupefy!Â
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