... mostly playful ... Rather than being salacious, Sex With Presidents explores the nearly impossible ideal Americans have for public figures’ sexual behavior ... well researched and aggregated from a long list of sources ... Although humorous at times, the book does not water down some of the real miscreants who lived in the White House: There are several rapists in the bunch, and the sexual double standard is a historical constant ... However, the book deserves a closer critique of several passages. Some of the jokey language does not always land, particularly in the chapter about Bill and Hillary Clinton. Additionally, the chapter about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, the ensalved woman who gave birth to many children by him, could have benefited from more interrogation ... Still, Sex With Presidents will be an entry point for some folks to learn more about history and the social mores of yore. The book is especially useful for illustrating how journalists have increasingly probed—some would say intruded—into politicians’ private lives. Whether our country is the better for it is up for debate.
[Herman] does a remarkable job of psychologically profiling and detailing the many sex scandals that have dogged nearly a dozen men who have held our nation’s highest office, as well as other high-profile politicians ... In this fascinatingly humorous and surprisingly illuminating book, Herman does a terrific job of psychologically profiling and re-examining the sex scandals that shook the White House and the nation. She does a thorough and exceptional job of answering several tantalizingly provocative questions: What is sex like with a president? Does charisma, passion and zest for power make it better than average? Does a strong sex drive has any relevance to political success or failure? And does rampant adultery show a lack of character needed to run the country? ... a delightfully shocking read, and like with her previous books on sex with powerful people, Herman maintains both her sense of humor and commitment to research. With loads of spicy tidbits that include riveting insight into the past, Herman brings sympathy and kindness to those who deserve understanding, explaining that it isn’t easy to stand next to a person in power who displays despicable behavior while keeping your head held high.
To be fair about the current occupant of the Oval Office, none of the Stormy Daniels/Miss America anecdotes in Sex With Presidents date to his presidency, so the title is inaccurate in his case. Same goes for the chapters on Gary Hart and Alexander Hamilton, both of whom had plenty of sex without the benefit of a presidency ... Because Herman’s un-footnoted Sex With Presidents is a work of 'popular nonfiction,' not scholarship, she cuts corners elsewhere, too. Faced with no historical record on what a Hamilton conquest looked like, Herman invents one ... I’m not sure why she declines to call Thomas Jefferson a rapist, since that’s what his treatment of underage, enslaved Sally Hemings amounts to. And Herman seems to confirm 15th president James Buchanan’s long-rumored homosexuality, for instance, but offers no sourcing other than a chapter where she says her stories about presidents have been well-documented elsewhere ... I’m not sure why she declines to call Thomas Jefferson a rapist, since that’s what his treatment of underage, enslaved Sally Hemings amounts to. And Herman seems to confirm 15th president James Buchanan’s long-rumored homosexuality, for instance, but offers no sourcing other than a chapter where she says her stories about presidents have been well-documented elsewhere ... Herman is correct that many readers will have heard these tales, but she tells them with a gimlet eye and a talent for underscoring absurdity. There is value in collecting them the way Herman has, not just for trivia buffs but also for study of the American presidency.
At a moment when presidential sex scandals have few immediate consequences, this book will remind readers of the moral and political complexity of the topic while providing an entertaining introduction.
... a brisk, gossipy history ... Drawing on letters, memoirs, and biographies, Herman considers not just the men, but also their wives’ sometimes puzzling responses, and she offers a quick overview of Europeans’ attitudes to adultery ... A racy, revealing look at illicit sex involving the country’s highest office.
... gossip-fueled ... Packed with colorful character sketches and bawdy puns, Herman’s mélange of facts, rumors, and innuendo is more salacious than scrupulous. Still, this ribald and richly detailed history entertains.