Sex with Presidents: The Ins and Outs of Love and Lust in the White House (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

What better time to consider the sex lives of presidents than election season? Thinking about presidents having sex is like thinking about one’s parents: there’s a cringe-inducing quality to it. Still, presidents are human beings. And in Sex With Presidents, author Eleanor Herman wants to make them, to repurpose the title of George Stephanopoulos’s political memoir, all too human. She has written about the sex lives of kings and queens, and this turn toward sexual histories of selected U.S. leaders and aspirants delivers her same frankness and wit.

Even though readers may already be familiar with the affairs of Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump, the lesser known love lives of Woodrow Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson may be more surprising. It’s a tribute to the author’s unflinching examination of the libido that we see these leaders in a more nuanced light. In addition, it’s not only the judgments of the day that affect the decisions of presidents to confess or lie about their infidelities, it’s press coverage of the scandals that matter. Journalists were often complicit in hiding these affairs; they agreed not to cover them. But, sometimes, the press can giveth and then other times taketh away. Jefferson, Grover Cleveland, Harding, and Franklin Roosevelt are good examples worth exploring.

The author also highlights how U.S. cultural attitudes about the sexual behavior of presidents or presidential aspirants are changing. Finally, Herman’s concluding chapter compares U.S. perspectives with those overseas. One Japanese politician’s pithy observation about a recent sex scandal in his country offers a summary of the difference: “What’s below the navel isn’t personal character.”

— Patricia


In this fascinating work of popular history, the New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings and The Royal Art of Poison uncovers the bedroom secrets of American presidents and explores the surprising ways voters have reacted to their leaders’ sex scandals.

While Americans have a reputation for being strait-laced, many of the nation’s leaders have been anything but puritanical. Alexander Hamilton had a steamy affair with a blackmailing prostitute. John F. Kennedy swam nude with female staff in the White House swimming pool. Is it possible the qualities needed to run for president—narcissism, a thirst for power, a desire for importance—go hand in hand with a tendency to sexual misdoing?

In this entertaining and eye-opening book, Eleanor Herman revisits some of the sex scandals that have rocked the nation's capital and shocked the public, while asking the provocative questions: does rampant adultery show a lack of character or the stamina needed to run the country? Or perhaps both? While Americans have judged their leaders' affairs harshly compared to other nations, did they mostly just hate being lied to? And do they now clearly care more about issues other than a politician’s sex life?

What is sex like with the most powerful man in the world? Is it better than with your average Joe? And when America finally elects a female president, will she, too, have sexual escapades in the Oval Office?

About the Author

Eleanor Herman is the New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings, Sex with the Queen, and several other works of popular history. She has hosted Lost Worlds for The History Channel, The Madness of Henry VIII for the National Geographic Channel, and is now filming her second season of America: Fact vs. Fiction for The American Heroes Channel.

Praise For…

"Packed with colorful character sketches and bawdy puns...this ribald and richly detailed history entertains."
Publishers Weekly

"A racy, revealing look at illicit sex involving the country’s highest office."
Kirkus Reviews

"Herman adroitly exhibits her storytelling prowess in blending the documented gossip of the time with personal details from interviews and memoirs to write a book that is both historical and wildly entertaining."
Library Journal

"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."

"Fascinatingly humorous and surprisingly illuminating . . .”
New York Journal of Books

“Well researched…although humorous at times, Sex with Presidents does not water down some of the real miscreants who lived in the White House.” 

“Addictively Good Dish”
Entertainment Weekly

“Sexy, Dishy and Funny”
New York Times
Product Details
ISBN: 9780063021914
ISBN-10: 0063021919
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: September 14th, 2021
Pages: 400
Language: English