I have been toying with the idea of writing a book. I’ve never written a book before, but I have an idea trying to exit my chest, Alien-style. Since the idea extends from some of my Angry Bear posts, it seemed like a good idea to ask for input from you folks.
What I have in mind is writing a book that looks at how each of the last four Presidents, Reagan, GHW, Clinton, and GW, have performed along various measures. Some of these measures would be strictly economics: GDP, debt and the deficit. Some chapters would be semi-economic: production of food, energy, etc. Other chapters will not be directly related to issues most people think of as economics at all: abortions, unwed motherhood, education, etc. Regular readers might notice that by odd coincidence, some of these have been topics I’ve covered in posts.
In each case, my goal is to present the numbers in the most useful way possible. For example, I would try to explain why looking at GDP isn’t relevant, but rather, that one should look at real GDP per capita, and why. I would also try to explain why certain things might have happened, and how much the president really controls the topic at hand, but I want to skate over that as much as possible since that’s where biases creep in. For the most part, I intend to present the facts and figures in as unbiased a fashion as possible and let them speak for themselves.
While normally the use of facts and figures is guaranteed to bore actual readers and alienate potential figures, I think there is room out there for a book that simply tells it like it is.
What’s the purpose of the book? Well, people talk about the performance of presidents a lot but as often as not what they say bears little resemblance to what actually happened. Call this the kind of reference book that people can use to settle arguments – and perhaps start more rational discussions. While I think academics find the book interesting, I don’t intend it for an academic audience.
Why the last four Presidents? Well, Reagan, Clinton, and GW all seem to engender a lot of emotion, both positive and negative. (GHW not so much, but he’s in the middle of the sample so leaving him out is tough.) Each has supporters that exaggerate (whether inadvertently or not) their strengths, and detractors that exaggerate their weaknesses. Nobody much cares about Carter and Ford, and Nixon starts getting a little too far back.
Anyway, I’ve pulled a lot of the data I will be using for the book, and I’ve written first passes at some of the chapters. I’m trying to make it humorous, and keeping it to the level that a smart high school student could follow.
Before I proceed, I’m asking for your help. Is the concept behind the book a good idea? Would a book like this sell? Would you buy a book like this? What topics should be covered that you think I might miss? What steps should I take – other than writing the book of course – to get it to market? And what am I missing? I welcome your suggestions, comments, contributions, donations, threats, etc. Thanks.