To be continued ...

Argh, you just finished part one and now you have to wait a week, a month, an entire season, or even a year before you know what happens and the cliffhanger is solved.

Part one had you on the edge of your seat. But as in Life After Power by Jared Cohen, just wait until you know the next half.

Americans are living longer, which is good news for retirees: It gives them a chance for a second career or a dream job after they’ve officially quit working. It’s an idea that U.S. presidents had, starting centuries ago.

Take, for instance, Thomas Jefferson.

After eight years in office, he graciously stepped away to found a university and to finish other long-dreamed projects. Still, says Cohen, “Jefferson knew that America would have a reckoning over his legacy and over slavery.”

John Adams, son of our second president, appreciatively traveled the world with his father during the elder’s presidency, but Adams’ own term in office was an unhappy one.

Fortunately, after Andrew Jackson took over, Adams’ contemporaries worked to give the former president a seat in Congress and, with no aspirations and no higher office in mind, Adams dared to ignore convention and speak passionately about subjects important to him.

Says Cohen, he “was more decisive than he had been as president.”

Grover Cleveland had a second term four years after he left his first term — and he regretted it.

Just as she always wanted, Nellie Taft landed in the White House, but that wasn’t the dream of her husband, William. What he really wanted was a seat on the Supreme Court, and he was delighted when it was offered.

Herbert Hoover was “a hero” when he entered the office and one of the most reviled men in America when he left it.

Jimmy Carter left office in “humiliation,” but then made the world a better place.

And George W. Bush literally brushed his term in the White House aside.

If the next president to vacate the Oval Office knows what’s inside Life After Power, he’ll have some nice guidance.

And you’ll have an interesting look at a part of the presidents’ lives, in a way that’s often ignored in historical accounts. Author Jared Cohen gives readers a detailed, backstage peek at the months after the election, and it’s not always the smooth ride you might imagine.

The life of a former president, with his pension and security, is not necessarily one of leisure; in fact, Cohen shows how troublesome it can be for someone with unfulfilled vision. Aspiring politicians, please note: You may want to take Cleveland’s advice to young Franklin Roosevelt …

Certainly, Life After Power is for anyone who imagines what next spring will look like for the guy who doesn’t get the votes. And if you love presidential history, you won’t be able to part with it.


The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 14,000 books.

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