C-SPAN Libraries series opens door to presidential history

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Already tired of the 2008 presidential campaign? Remind yourself why it matters over the next 12 weeks.

Presidential Libraries: History Uncovered begins at 7 tonight on C-SPAN, offering what presidential historian Richard Norton Smith predicts will be "a kind of history that people don't get out of their textbooks."

There will be a bit of spontaneity — the series broadcasts live from one presidential library each week, starting with the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin will be featured Oct. 12, and the show travels to College Station on Nov. 16 for the George Bush Presidential Library.

Smith, who served as a consultant to the series, says it speaks to today's presidential campaigns.

"I think a lot of people are frustrated with the way we choose our presidents," he said this week. "It's become so stylized, so theatrical. In some ways people feel democracy has become the prisoner of the handlers and the spin doctors and the image makers."

But as the Sept. 28 program featuring Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidential library will show, that's not new.

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