NONFICTION

Close Calls: How Eleven US Presidents Escaped from the Brink of Death

Bloomsbury. Jan. 2020. 128p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781547600236.
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Gr 5-8–Tales of survival, near-misses, and sheer determination fill the pages of this collection of 11 stories about 11 different U.S. presidents who had close calls with death, either while in office or before they were elected. These short, readable vignettes are organized chronologically. George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and the first Bush all faced some very dangerous moments while serving in the military. Jimmy Carter’s near-death experience was one of his own making: He volunteered to go into a failing nuclear reactor to help fix it since he was one of the few people who had the expertise. Spradlin’s engaging accounts are concise and provide some historical context without overwhelming the narrative.
VERDICT A solid choice for libraries looking to add to their narrative history collections.

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