Presidential Retreats, written by Peter Hannaford, is an entertaining and easy read which highlights the life and achievements of each U.S. president, how and why he chose to retreat from Washington, where he went and what the reader would see on a visit.
During the nation's first century presidents retreated to their homes. Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Grove was the first presidential residence designed explicitly to be a retreat. Jefferson used it for the rest of his life to get away from the crowds visiting Monticello.
This pattern was changed by Lincoln, whose mobility was restricted by the Civil War. Since then every president has chosen a retreat in addition to his home. Hoover was the first to have a retreat built at taxpayers' expense -- a policy reversed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who sold it and settled into what was originally a boy's camp, now known as Camp David.
From Washington's Mount Vernon to today's Camp David, each chapter is self-contained, detailing each president's choice of retreat and how he used it. Readers can easily skip around to whatever interests them most.
Beginning with Mount Vernon, Hannaford leads the reader on a tour of John Adams' Peacefield in Massachusetts; Jefferson's Poplar Forest plantation; Andrew Jackson's Rip Raps; Abe Lincoln's Soldiers' Home; Grant's rented house in Long Branch, New Jersey, and subsequent presidents who retreated to Long Branch; Teddy Roosevelt's Sagamore Hill; Hoover's Camp Rapidan; FDR's family estates; JFK's Hyannis Port compound; LBJ's Texas ranch; Nixon's retreats in Key Biscayne and San Clemente; Reagan's Rancho del Cielo; the senior Bush compound near Kennebunkport and the junior Bush ranch in Crawford.
While the public is more aware of Mount Vernon and the 13 official presidential libraries, which attract 5 million visitors a year, this book may attract more visitors to the retreats which are open to the public.
The book is perfect for presidential history buffs and can easily be used as a travel reference. It includes contact information, current tour schedules, and website addresses for each site open to the public, and a map identifying the location of each retreat. (Only three retreats are in California and none are open to the public.)
Hannaford, a Eureka resident, is president of Hannaford Enterprises, a public relations consulting firm he created in 1998. He was co-director of issues and research for Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign in 1976, and senior communications advisor for Reagan's 1980 campaign. He has written 11 books, six of them on Reagan.
Hannaford will be joining other local authors at a book signing at Eureka Books during Arts Alive on Saturday night, and he'll lecture at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2, at Old Town Coffee and Chocolates in Eureka.