POTUS is in the house! Almost 40 houses to be exact. A combination travel guide/behind-Oz's-curtain look at America's Presidential libraries.
- Contemporary, Ebooks, Entertainment, History, Nonfiction, Politics, Travel
- Page Length:
- 250 - 500 Pages
- Book Status:
- Working Draft
A perk of being a former POTUS is getting your very own Presidential library. It's all you, all the time and for the most part, you get to decide what goes into it. (Notable exception: The Watergate display in the Richard Nixon Library). Presidential libraries have been around in an "oafishul" capacity since 1939, thanks to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Apparently he was worried about his papers getting moldy, lost, or mislaid; justifiably so since most administrations generate enough documents to populate a small forest. Presidents also receive some great swag - gifts with precious jewels, gold, silver and more -- from visiting dignitaries and celebrities. It would not speak well for these items to end up on "Pawn Stars." But Presidential monuments, homes and birthplaces have existed practically since this country's founding, with Thomas Jefferson's Monticello being an outstanding example. CLOSE ENOUGH FOR GOVERNMENT WORK looks at libraries both sanctioned and organized by US/state/local governments as well as ancillary ones, such as the Dan Quayle Museum and the Gallery of Also-Rans. It aims to satisfy all constituents by pairing a thorough history with a travel guide. Along with little-known information and a detailed description of the overall setup and exhibits, each chapter will discuss the library's inception as well as any controversy surrounding its establishment. Readers will also get a sense of the library's "flava" and vibe; its staff, sights, sounds and even (occasionally musty) smells. Restaurants, gift shops and other less-trod aspects will also be included.Read More
Interview with Sandra GurvisRead Interview
Who are you?
Existentially, I have no idea but personally and professionally, I am the author of 16 commercially published books, mother of two grown children, grandmother of the most adorable little girl that ever walked the Earth (yes, I am *that* grandmother) and servant, er "pet parent" of two aging cats. I grew up during the Kennedy Administration idolizing JFK and have always wanted to be a writer. And while it's hard to believe that so much time has passed, here's a photo of a newspaper article about me from the mid-1960s as an eighth grader who raised a whopping $4 to help build the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. (The other, far more recent photos are of me attending a conference at same and also visiting the Richard M. Nixon library in Yorba Linda, California.)
That marked the beginning of my love for and obsession with Presidential libraries. It waxed and waned over the years as I struggled to establish my writing career and raise two children. But next to my first novel, THE PIPE DREAMERS which took some 25 years from idea to actual publication, this book has taken the longest to come to fruition. I came up with the idea sometime in the 1980s although back then I was also dealing with shoulder pads, big hair, and interviewing singer David Lee Roth.
What makes you think you can write a book on Presidential libraries?
Short answer: It's what I do.
Longer answer: My most successful and best-selling titles have been offbeat and quirky depictions of unusual and perhaps even occasionally mundane people, places and things. These include AMERICA'S STRANGEST MUSEUMS (2nd edition), DAY TRIPS FROM COLUMBUS (3rd edition), OHIO CURIOSITIES (2nd edition) and, to be released in fall 2014, MYTHS AND MYSTERIES OF OHIO. This dovetails with my fascination with history, particularly the 1960s which resulted in THE PIPE DREAMERS, a novel about the Vietnam protests on a small Ohio campus and WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWER CHILDREN GONE? a nonfiction look at the same era from the point of view of various factions, from conservatives to communes to expatriates and more.
I have also written several magazine articles and book chapters about the various libraries, including Rutherford B. Hayes, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, of course JFK and others. I received a grant from the Lyndon B. Johnson library to do research for WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWER CHILDREN GONE? giving me an up close and personal look at the mind-boggling mountains of data that such places contain. When I wasn't sneezing from all the dust, I found some pretty amazing needles of information in that particular haystack. My travels have taken me to what some might consider extremely loose interpretations of Presidential libraries: The Dan Quayle Center (OK, so he was a vice-president, but still....); the One and Only Presidential Museum (don't ask unless you really want to know) and the National First Ladies Library, which celebrates FLOTUS. And who am I to judge, considering that sometimes presidents are interred at "oafishul" libraries administered by the U. S Office of Presidential Libraries/National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Which is kind of creepy, considering that people also bury their pets in their back yards, not to mention what serial killers can get up to. And if there's ever a zombie apocalypse, well, let's just not go there.
Why should I/we give you money for this?
Because you will be getting a complete, unbiased -- in the sense that all sites are fair game -- and in-depth look at these uniquely American institutions, even with the minimum donation.
I have a contract with an established "indie" publisher, Loconeal (http://loconeal.com). (For those unfamiliar with the writing biz, "indie" loosely translates as "little to no advance"). The book is due to be published in 2016, just in time for the next Presidential election and will include the latest information on the battle between Chicago and Hawaii over the Barack Obama Library. (Although some would say it should be located in the Middle East.)
Along with the previously discussed detailed description and visitor information, CLOSE ENOUGH FOR GOVERNMENT WORK will contain photographs and will be organized geographically so if you visit, say, Texas you'll know where to go. Which is pretty easy considering that two out of three libraries there begin with a "B" end with an "H" and contain the words "G" and "H.W." Ohio, however, is a different story -- it boasts a veritable cornucopia of such places, including the Hayes, Garfield, and McKinley centers as well as the Harding and Taft sites. And that's in addition to the previously mentioned First Ladies Library and the One and Only Presidential Museum.
While other books have been written about Presidential Libraries and related sites, they are more encyclopedic, referential and overly polite.
For years people have expressed enthusiasm over this project. And not just friends and colleagues: I have come close several times to getting a contract from different publishers. So if you really want to see a book like this, here's your chance!
What political affiliation are you? Red, blue, tea or green?
Actually that has nothing to do with this book. Although it may sound contradictory, my politics and political views are irrelevant. I do have my opinions but as a writer have learned to keep them in the same place as my unmentionables, out of sight and in a drawer. Unless of course they are dirty and then they go in the laundry basket. However, if you have issues with sarcasm or irreverence, this is probably not the book for you.
Where can I get more information?
CNN did a segment on Presidential libraries in April 2013:
The National Archives also offers a comprehensive Web page:
And here's the home page of the Office of Presidential Libraries:
And some more information:
Or you could try calling/emailing them or the libraries, which, speaking from personal experience, can be a time-consuming, hit-or-miss proposition. Which is why there is such an astounding need for this book!
OK, I'm in. But you forgot the most important question of all. What will the funds be used for?
Well, the cats need to eat. Once that is taken care of, everything else is Friskies Party Mix. Seriously, the funds will be used for travel and writing, in that order. Considering the actual time investment involved in writing something well, $5000 is really not that much. And that's not even considering the amount of money that will go towards traveling to the museums, which is what the initial funds will be used for. (I will be posting an update about my travel schedule and writing plan later on in the campaign .) Frankly, I will probably be working on this book on weekends and evenings, while earning a living freelancing full time. It won't be easy, but it should be fun!
You promised us an update on your travel and writing plans. Show us the goods!
First of all I'd like to thank all the folks who have already provided support...You have my undying gratitude and appreciation!
Here is the tentative travel schedule, keeping in mind that what does not do one in can make them stronger.....
13 NARA Libraries (in caps) need to be covered. These trips include several of the smaller, ancillary libraries when feasible:
*Midwest (car):Indianapolis/Harrison Museum; WEST BRANCH, IA, HOOVER MUSEUM; Kansas - ABILENE, EISENHOWER MUSEUM; Atchison, World's Smallest; Norton, Gallery of Also-Rans; INDEPENDENCE, MO: HARRY S TRUMAN
*New York (fly) FDR PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM, HYDE PARK
*South (fly, then rent car): LITTLE ROCK,AK, CLINTON LIBRARY; ATLANTA, GA, JIMMY CARTER LIBRARY
*Texas: (fly, then rent car) COLLEGE STATION, GH BUSH LIBRARY; DALLAS GW BUSH LIBRARY
*Virginia (car): CHARLOTTESVILLE, MONTICELLO (Jefferson), not a NARA library but equally important; Fredericksburge, James Monroe; Mt Vernon, National Library for study of George Washington; Orange, James Madison Museum; Staunton, Woodrow Wilson Library
*California (fly): SIMI VALLEY, REAGAN MUSEUM; YORBA LINDA, NIXON MUSEUM
Butt in chair. Meet deadline. Try not to freak out.
Sorry to disappoint anyone who expects writing to flow brilliantly from one's mind, but it just doesn't work that way. At least not for me.
So, please continue to spread the word and offer your support...Thanks!