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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Great US Presidential Trivia From Sweden

Theodore Roosevelt, Badlands hunter and later president of the USA. Note the Tiffany bowie knife. Photo: George Grantham Baine

By coincidence (or not) I can today blog about a new and partly Swedish book in English about US presidents. It really brings home a lot of both funny, inspiring and important facts about past presidents.

99 Peculiarities of American Presidents
by Dr Fergal Donnelly and Professor Wilhelm Engström (from Uppsala, Sweden) actually is a kind of entertaining mini-history of the United States, including some military history. Among the peculiarities let me mention that one president had actually been a hangman and another one was involved in as many as 100 duels - most of which were fought to defend the honour of his wife.

Of most interest to me were the pages about Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt (the Roosevelt who was president 1901-1909). It is a truly amazing story how Roosevelt finally got his Medal of Honor only in 2001, from President Bill Clinton just before he left office. It was for actions against Spanish forces in 1898! I had believed the medal was just a PR stunt by Clinton. Now I understand why it took so long. BTW, Roosevelt's first book was The Naval War of 1812, which had a great impact on the formation of the modern US Navy. I must confess that before I picked up 99 peculiarities of American presidents I was also ignorant of the fact that President Roosevelt´s eldest son, Theodore Roosevelt Jr, was the only general on D-Day to land in Normandy by sea. Some weeks later he died of a heart attack. He was 57 and had kept his heart trouble secret. Like his father would be in 2001, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor (on 28 September 1944) for his actions on D-Day.

Incidentally, I have previously blogged about the mysterious division in honour of Theodore Roosevelt that was set up by a Swedish volunteer, Ivor Thord-Gray.

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