Grover Cleveland seems like a very suitable president for the tail-end of the Gilded Age, with the demeanor of a wealthy industrialist, a magnificent walrus moustache, a wife half his age and an obsession with the incomprehensible issue of the gold standard while the reconstruction of the South was being rolled back.
A year into his second (non-consesecutive!) term, he sought the advice of the White House doctor about a persistent ulcer. A sample was taken, cancer was diagnosed, and a decision was made to secretly operate, on a yacht somewhere off Long Island, then to replace the president’s upper left jaw and hard palate.
A large part of this project involves immersing myself in the years I’m covering. Later on this will mean I’m able to include audio from films, radio, TV and eventually the internet. For now it means I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries and reading a fair few books. In order to fill some time between main posts (and feel like my time has been spent in some way productively) I’ll be reporting on these here.
A good source of background has been the vast variety of historical podcasts which are around. I first listened to Rex Factor all the way through when I had my second child and was spending a lot of time traveling to and from hospital. The series ranks British monarchs in a top trumps fashion, and has an enjoyable pairing of a very well-informed history buff and an interested friend who is hearing everything for the first time. This is part two of their epic 5-part episode on Queen Victoria, and gives a good rundown of what life was like at the very highest echelon of society during this era.