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News & Politics
History

Presidents Are People Too!

News & Politics
History
Read more

The Audible Originals series Presidents Are People Too! recasts each of the American Presidents as real-life people, complete with flaws, quirks, triumphs, scandals and bodily ailments. Hosts Elliott Kalan, former Daily Show head writer, and American historian and author Alexis Coe talk to experts, comedians, journalists, actors and re-enactors to better understand the men memorialized on the Washington Mall and those all but forgotten.

Read more

The Audible Originals series Presidents Are People Too! recasts each of the American Presidents as real-life people, complete with flaws, quirks, triumphs, scandals and bodily ailments. Hosts Elliott Kalan, former Daily Show head writer, and American historian and author Alexis Coe talk to experts, comedians, journalists, actors and re-enactors to better understand the men memorialized on the Washington Mall and those all but forgotten.

iTunes Ratings

191 Ratings
Average Ratings
134
19
6
15
17

Very enjoyable and informative

By JustSayN4RF - Dec 07 2018
Read more

Fun to listen to - lots of cool information on the presidents!

Please make more!

By fzouki - Aug 02 2018
Read more

I wish there were more episodes.

iTunes Ratings

191 Ratings
Average Ratings
134
19
6
15
17

Very enjoyable and informative

By JustSayN4RF - Dec 07 2018
Read more

Fun to listen to - lots of cool information on the presidents!

Please make more!

By fzouki - Aug 02 2018
Read more

I wish there were more episodes.

Cover image of Presidents Are People Too!

Presidents Are People Too!

Read more

The Audible Originals series Presidents Are People Too! recasts each of the American Presidents as real-life people, complete with flaws, quirks, triumphs, scandals and bodily ailments. Hosts Elliott Kalan, former Daily Show head writer, and American historian and author Alexis Coe talk to experts, comedians, journalists, actors and re-enactors to better understand the men memorialized on the Washington Mall and those all but forgotten.

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Top Episodes

Most Popular Episodes of Presidents Are People Too!

Rank #1: Franklin Pierce

May 16 2017
Podcast cover
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Alexis and Elliott delve into the life of a handsome yet disappointing president, number 14, Franklin Pierce. They speak to a presidential grief specialist about how Pierce dealt with a tragic death two months before his inauguration, examine how the Kansas-Nebraska Act—an act that was meant to defuse tension over slavery—ended up blowing up the country, and explore Pierce’s lifelong friendship with the acclaimed novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Play Now

Rank #2: Gerald Ford

May 02 2017
Podcast cover
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Alexis and Elliott get to know the all-American football star who stepped into office after Nixon’s resignation and served less than a full term, president #38 Gerald Ford. They examine his childhood, imagine his life as a pro-football player, explore his controversial decision to pardon Nixon a month after he left office in disgrace, and peek inside the East Wing with Betty Ford’s White House press secretary.

Play Now

Rank #3: Chester A. Arthur

Apr 18 2017
Podcast cover
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Alexis and Elliott explore the life of our oft-forgotten 21st president, Chester Alan Arthur. Author Esther Crain explains why Arthur was the quintessential Gilded Age New Yorker, Elliott digs into a complicated relationship with NY senator Roscoe Conkling, and Alexis investigates his involvement in a significant civil rights case. Playwright Sean David DeMers meets our hosts at a Brooklyn cemetery, to discuss Arthur’s mysterious correspondence with a New York woman who encouraged him to rise to the challenges of the presidency.

Play Now

Rank #4: George Washington

Apr 04 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

Alexis and Elliott attempt to get closer to the man behind the marble facade: our first president, George Washington. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph J. Ellis explains what made Washington a myth, even in his own time. Reid Mitenbuler, author of Bourbon Empire, sheds light on Washington’s surprising role as a major American whiskey distiller. Rohulamin Quander reflects on his ancestors enslaved at Mount Vernon, and Alexis and Elliott visit the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to see the site of Benedict Arnold’s infamous betrayal.

Play Now

Rank #5: William Howard Taft

Mar 21 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

This week, Alexis and Elliott get to know the sensitive soul behind our portly 27th president, William Howard Taft. They talk to historian H.W. Brands about Taft’s public break from his mentor, Theodore Roosevelt, and journalist Alexandra Robbins takes us back to Taft’s days as a member of Skull and Bones, Yale’s oldest secret society. Elsewhere, Alexis clears up some misinformation, and drops a bombshell on Chicago second grader Isaac Margolis.

Play Now

Rank #6: Rutherford B. Hayes

Mar 07 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

Alexis and Elliott explore the life of president number 19, Rutherford B. Hayes, and investigate how a seemingly decent man turned into possibly the worst president ever. Alexis and Elliott speak to author and historian Roy Morris Jr. about the stolen election of 1876, and to David O. Stowell about Hayes’ involvement in the Great Railway Strike of 1877. They also enlist the help of comedian Kristen Schaal, in an attempt to find an entertaining way to talk about the silver coinage debate.

Play Now

Rank #7: George H.W. Bush

Feb 21 2017
Podcast cover
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Alexis and Elliott reexamine the life and presidency of the first President Bush, number 41, George Herbert Walker Bush, current most senior member of the Bush political dynasty and prolific thank-you note writer. Alexis speaks to journalist and unauthorized Bush biographer Kitty Kelley about Bush's surprising association with Planned Parenthood, while biographer Jon Meacham recounts his WWII experience and unrelenting drive to succeed. Bush Sr. impressionist Eric Harthen gives voice to personal letters, and imagines an alternate history in which his political rise went differently.

Play Now

Rank #8: Benjamin Harrison

Feb 07 2017
Podcast cover
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This episode takes a look at president number 23, Benjamin Harrison, grandson of President William Henry Harrison, and the meat in the Grover Cleveland sandwich. Elliott chats with Harrison biographer Charles Calhoun about Harrison’s impressive legislative advancements, and his role as the missing link between early American politics and the modern presidency. Alexis and Elliott speak with Harrison re-enactor Charles Braun, and reveal two remarkable examples of Harrison’s bravery under fire. Comedian Wyatt Cenac and others reimagine the Harrison White House years as a 1980s TV sitcom.

Play Now

Rank #9: Abraham Lincoln

Jan 24 2017
Podcast cover
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This is the episode Elliott has been waiting for: number 16, Abraham Lincoln, his favorite president and personal hero. Elliott speaks to Lincoln scholar and former Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Frank J. Williams about Lincoln’s 25-year legal career, while Alexis reexamines First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s complicated legacy with the help of historian Catherine Clinton. And author Mary Roach takes us behind the scenes of Lincoln's final train journey.

Play Now

Rank #10: Calvin Coolidge

Jan 17 2017
Podcast cover
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Alexis and Elliott get to know the Vermonter with a maligned legacy, number 30, Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge’s hands-off style of governing has been blamed for paving the way to the devastation of the Great Depression, but personal tragedy may be as much to blame as his fiscal conservatism. Alexis speaks to political scientist Robert E. Gilbert about Coolidge’s long-time struggle with depression. We hear author Jen Doll's very modern re-telling of the moment Coolidge and his wife Grace met, and about the quietly dramatic moment he was sworn into office.

Play Now

Rank #11: Jimmy Carter

Jan 10 2017
Podcast cover
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Alexis and Elliott re-examine the legacy of our country’s most famous peanut farmer-turned president, number 39, Jimmy Carter. Carter may have served for only one lackluster term in the Oval Office, but he’s had the longest post-presidential career of any former POTUS. Our hosts take a closer look at Carter's humanitarian work with the Carter Center, and Alexis visits his hometown of Plains, Georgia where she attends a Sunday school class taught by Carter himself, and chats with locals who know him fondly as “Mr. Jimmy.”

Play Now

Rank #12: Bill Clinton

Jan 03 2017
Podcast cover
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This week, Alexis and Elliott go back to the ‘90s to look at the president they grew up with. Bill Clinton has been in the public eye for more than a quarter-century, and rather than re-tell his familiar story, they pose three questions: What was it like to share the stage with Clinton when he played the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1992? What did Toni Morrison mean when she described Clinton as the "first black president"? And finally, does Clinton really have a photographic memory? Musician Starr Parodi, Emory professor Andra Gillespie, and neuroscientist Dr. Dean Burnett help answer those questions.

Play Now

Rank #13: Martin Van Buren

Dec 27 2016
Podcast cover
Read more

This week, Alexis and Elliott get to know the man behind America’s most famous pair of mutton chops: president number eight, Martin Van Buren. Nicknamed "Old Kinderhook," after his hometown in upstate New York, Van Buren was born to humble tavern-keeper parents and grew up speaking Dutch. Alexis speaks to Dr. Patricia West at the Van Buren Historical Site about the poor little Dutch boy's meteoric rise to president of the United States. Actor Lucas Near-Verbrugghe talks about playing Van Buren on Broadway, and America's most charming presidential pet expert, Mo Rocca, dishes on a surprising pair of White House residents.

Play Now

Rank #14: Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dec 20 2016
Podcast cover
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In this episode, Alexis and Elliott visit The United States Military Academy at West Point to find out more about a mischievous young cadet named Dwight D. Eisenhower, future 34th president. Alexis talks to historian Kevin Kruse about Ike’s religious revival and Susan Eisenhower reveals a lighter side of the man she called “Granddad.”

Play Now

Rank #15: Thomas Jefferson

Dec 13 2016
Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode, Alexis and Elliott take a fresh look at one of our most studied and well-documented presidents, number three, Thomas Jefferson. They explore everything from his obsession with finding the elusive woolly mammoth, to his love of music, to the troubling side of his legacy: his long-time secret relationship with his slave Sally Hemings. Novelist Stephen O’Connor discusses his new novel Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings, and historians Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf help us navigate the disturbing aspects of Jefferson's story.

Play Now

Rank #16: John F. Kennedy

Dec 06 2016
Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode, Alexis and Elliott examine the pre-presidential life of our most dazzling president, number 35, John F. Kennedy. They're taken on a tour of "Young Jack’s" less-than-stellar high school days and his heroic acts during WWII by Stacey Bredhoff, curator at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. And retired Secret Service agent Clint Hill shares anecdotes from his days protecting the man he describes as "electrifying.”

Play Now

Rank #17: John Quincy Adams

Nov 29 2016
Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode Alexis and Elliott explore the life of president number six, John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, and member of the first American political dynasty. They follow Quincy’s journey from child diplomat, emerging from under the shadow of his overbearing parents, to the halls of Congress where he spent his last years advocating for causes ahead of his time. But first, Mayor Tom Koch of Quincy, Massachusetts, teaches Alexis and Elliott an important lesson.

Play Now

Rank #18: John Adams

Nov 22 2016
Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode, Alexis and Elliott explore the life of our second President, John Adams. Alexis travels to Massachusetts, home of the Adams family, to visit their farm in Quincy. In Boston, Alexis reads through original diaries and letters with historians Sara Georgini and John Overholt. Meanwhile, Elliott interviews his college friend Natalie MacMillan about her lifelong crush on Adams, and has a eureka moment about our second president.

Play Now

Rank #19: Theodore Roosevelt

Nov 15 2016
Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode, Alexis and Elliott get to know our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. They speak to biographer H.W. Brands about a peculiar presidential pet peeve, Elliott visits a taxidermist in Queens to learn more about Teddy's appreciation for mounted game, and Thomas Whittington gives voice to our most macho of presidents.

Play Now

Rank #20: William Henry Harrison

Nov 08 2016
Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode Alexis and Elliott learn more about our most fleeting president, number 9, William Henry Harrison, who died after only a month in office. They speak to New York Times columnist Gail Collins about her personal connection to Harrison and examine Harrison the military man with the help of Major Rory McGovern at the United States Military Academy at West Point. And lastly, comedians Seth Reiss and Peter Grosz reimagine how Harrison’s infamous campaign slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” came about.

Play Now

Rank #1: Franklin Pierce

Podcast cover
Read more

Alexis and Elliott delve into the life of a handsome yet disappointing president, number 14, Franklin Pierce. They speak to a presidential grief specialist about how Pierce dealt with a tragic death two months before his inauguration, examine how the Kansas-Nebraska Act—an act that was meant to defuse tension over slavery—ended up blowing up the country, and explore Pierce’s lifelong friendship with the acclaimed novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne.

May 16 2017
28 mins
Play Now

Rank #2: Gerald Ford

Podcast cover
Read more

Alexis and Elliott get to know the all-American football star who stepped into office after Nixon’s resignation and served less than a full term, president #38 Gerald Ford. They examine his childhood, imagine his life as a pro-football player, explore his controversial decision to pardon Nixon a month after he left office in disgrace, and peek inside the East Wing with Betty Ford’s White House press secretary.

May 02 2017
29 mins
Play Now

Rank #3: Chester A. Arthur

Podcast cover
Read more

Alexis and Elliott explore the life of our oft-forgotten 21st president, Chester Alan Arthur. Author Esther Crain explains why Arthur was the quintessential Gilded Age New Yorker, Elliott digs into a complicated relationship with NY senator Roscoe Conkling, and Alexis investigates his involvement in a significant civil rights case. Playwright Sean David DeMers meets our hosts at a Brooklyn cemetery, to discuss Arthur’s mysterious correspondence with a New York woman who encouraged him to rise to the challenges of the presidency.

Apr 18 2017
29 mins
Play Now

Rank #4: George Washington

Podcast cover
Read more

Alexis and Elliott attempt to get closer to the man behind the marble facade: our first president, George Washington. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph J. Ellis explains what made Washington a myth, even in his own time. Reid Mitenbuler, author of Bourbon Empire, sheds light on Washington’s surprising role as a major American whiskey distiller. Rohulamin Quander reflects on his ancestors enslaved at Mount Vernon, and Alexis and Elliott visit the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to see the site of Benedict Arnold’s infamous betrayal.

Apr 04 2017
27 mins
Play Now

Rank #5: William Howard Taft

Podcast cover
Read more

This week, Alexis and Elliott get to know the sensitive soul behind our portly 27th president, William Howard Taft. They talk to historian H.W. Brands about Taft’s public break from his mentor, Theodore Roosevelt, and journalist Alexandra Robbins takes us back to Taft’s days as a member of Skull and Bones, Yale’s oldest secret society. Elsewhere, Alexis clears up some misinformation, and drops a bombshell on Chicago second grader Isaac Margolis.

Mar 21 2017
27 mins
Play Now

Rank #6: Rutherford B. Hayes

Podcast cover
Read more

Alexis and Elliott explore the life of president number 19, Rutherford B. Hayes, and investigate how a seemingly decent man turned into possibly the worst president ever. Alexis and Elliott speak to author and historian Roy Morris Jr. about the stolen election of 1876, and to David O. Stowell about Hayes’ involvement in the Great Railway Strike of 1877. They also enlist the help of comedian Kristen Schaal, in an attempt to find an entertaining way to talk about the silver coinage debate.

Mar 07 2017
29 mins
Play Now

Rank #7: George H.W. Bush

Podcast cover
Read more

Alexis and Elliott reexamine the life and presidency of the first President Bush, number 41, George Herbert Walker Bush, current most senior member of the Bush political dynasty and prolific thank-you note writer. Alexis speaks to journalist and unauthorized Bush biographer Kitty Kelley about Bush's surprising association with Planned Parenthood, while biographer Jon Meacham recounts his WWII experience and unrelenting drive to succeed. Bush Sr. impressionist Eric Harthen gives voice to personal letters, and imagines an alternate history in which his political rise went differently.

Feb 21 2017
Play Now

Rank #8: Benjamin Harrison

Podcast cover
Read more

This episode takes a look at president number 23, Benjamin Harrison, grandson of President William Henry Harrison, and the meat in the Grover Cleveland sandwich. Elliott chats with Harrison biographer Charles Calhoun about Harrison’s impressive legislative advancements, and his role as the missing link between early American politics and the modern presidency. Alexis and Elliott speak with Harrison re-enactor Charles Braun, and reveal two remarkable examples of Harrison’s bravery under fire. Comedian Wyatt Cenac and others reimagine the Harrison White House years as a 1980s TV sitcom.

Feb 07 2017
Play Now

Rank #9: Abraham Lincoln

Podcast cover
Read more

This is the episode Elliott has been waiting for: number 16, Abraham Lincoln, his favorite president and personal hero. Elliott speaks to Lincoln scholar and former Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Frank J. Williams about Lincoln’s 25-year legal career, while Alexis reexamines First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s complicated legacy with the help of historian Catherine Clinton. And author Mary Roach takes us behind the scenes of Lincoln's final train journey.

Jan 24 2017
Play Now

Rank #10: Calvin Coolidge

Podcast cover
Read more

Alexis and Elliott get to know the Vermonter with a maligned legacy, number 30, Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge’s hands-off style of governing has been blamed for paving the way to the devastation of the Great Depression, but personal tragedy may be as much to blame as his fiscal conservatism. Alexis speaks to political scientist Robert E. Gilbert about Coolidge’s long-time struggle with depression. We hear author Jen Doll's very modern re-telling of the moment Coolidge and his wife Grace met, and about the quietly dramatic moment he was sworn into office.

Jan 17 2017
Play Now

Rank #11: Jimmy Carter

Podcast cover
Read more

Alexis and Elliott re-examine the legacy of our country’s most famous peanut farmer-turned president, number 39, Jimmy Carter. Carter may have served for only one lackluster term in the Oval Office, but he’s had the longest post-presidential career of any former POTUS. Our hosts take a closer look at Carter's humanitarian work with the Carter Center, and Alexis visits his hometown of Plains, Georgia where she attends a Sunday school class taught by Carter himself, and chats with locals who know him fondly as “Mr. Jimmy.”

Jan 10 2017
Play Now

Rank #12: Bill Clinton

Podcast cover
Read more

This week, Alexis and Elliott go back to the ‘90s to look at the president they grew up with. Bill Clinton has been in the public eye for more than a quarter-century, and rather than re-tell his familiar story, they pose three questions: What was it like to share the stage with Clinton when he played the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1992? What did Toni Morrison mean when she described Clinton as the "first black president"? And finally, does Clinton really have a photographic memory? Musician Starr Parodi, Emory professor Andra Gillespie, and neuroscientist Dr. Dean Burnett help answer those questions.

Jan 03 2017
Play Now

Rank #13: Martin Van Buren

Podcast cover
Read more

This week, Alexis and Elliott get to know the man behind America’s most famous pair of mutton chops: president number eight, Martin Van Buren. Nicknamed "Old Kinderhook," after his hometown in upstate New York, Van Buren was born to humble tavern-keeper parents and grew up speaking Dutch. Alexis speaks to Dr. Patricia West at the Van Buren Historical Site about the poor little Dutch boy's meteoric rise to president of the United States. Actor Lucas Near-Verbrugghe talks about playing Van Buren on Broadway, and America's most charming presidential pet expert, Mo Rocca, dishes on a surprising pair of White House residents.

Dec 27 2016
Play Now

Rank #14: Dwight D. Eisenhower

Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode, Alexis and Elliott visit The United States Military Academy at West Point to find out more about a mischievous young cadet named Dwight D. Eisenhower, future 34th president. Alexis talks to historian Kevin Kruse about Ike’s religious revival and Susan Eisenhower reveals a lighter side of the man she called “Granddad.”

Dec 20 2016
Play Now

Rank #15: Thomas Jefferson

Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode, Alexis and Elliott take a fresh look at one of our most studied and well-documented presidents, number three, Thomas Jefferson. They explore everything from his obsession with finding the elusive woolly mammoth, to his love of music, to the troubling side of his legacy: his long-time secret relationship with his slave Sally Hemings. Novelist Stephen O’Connor discusses his new novel Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings, and historians Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf help us navigate the disturbing aspects of Jefferson's story.

Dec 13 2016
Play Now

Rank #16: John F. Kennedy

Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode, Alexis and Elliott examine the pre-presidential life of our most dazzling president, number 35, John F. Kennedy. They're taken on a tour of "Young Jack’s" less-than-stellar high school days and his heroic acts during WWII by Stacey Bredhoff, curator at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. And retired Secret Service agent Clint Hill shares anecdotes from his days protecting the man he describes as "electrifying.”

Dec 06 2016
Play Now

Rank #17: John Quincy Adams

Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode Alexis and Elliott explore the life of president number six, John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, and member of the first American political dynasty. They follow Quincy’s journey from child diplomat, emerging from under the shadow of his overbearing parents, to the halls of Congress where he spent his last years advocating for causes ahead of his time. But first, Mayor Tom Koch of Quincy, Massachusetts, teaches Alexis and Elliott an important lesson.

Nov 29 2016
Play Now

Rank #18: John Adams

Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode, Alexis and Elliott explore the life of our second President, John Adams. Alexis travels to Massachusetts, home of the Adams family, to visit their farm in Quincy. In Boston, Alexis reads through original diaries and letters with historians Sara Georgini and John Overholt. Meanwhile, Elliott interviews his college friend Natalie MacMillan about her lifelong crush on Adams, and has a eureka moment about our second president.

Nov 22 2016
Play Now

Rank #19: Theodore Roosevelt

Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode, Alexis and Elliott get to know our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. They speak to biographer H.W. Brands about a peculiar presidential pet peeve, Elliott visits a taxidermist in Queens to learn more about Teddy's appreciation for mounted game, and Thomas Whittington gives voice to our most macho of presidents.

Nov 15 2016
Play Now

Rank #20: William Henry Harrison

Podcast cover
Read more

In this episode Alexis and Elliott learn more about our most fleeting president, number 9, William Henry Harrison, who died after only a month in office. They speak to New York Times columnist Gail Collins about her personal connection to Harrison and examine Harrison the military man with the help of Major Rory McGovern at the United States Military Academy at West Point. And lastly, comedians Seth Reiss and Peter Grosz reimagine how Harrison’s infamous campaign slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” came about.

Nov 08 2016
Play Now