John Vile, Middle Tennessee State University Honors College dean and author, keeps producing an array of research-driven, interesting and fact-filled historical books.
In the writing aspect of his career spanning more than 30 years, Vile’s overall number of books is fast approaching 50, with the publishing of his latest pair that tackles presidential inaugural addresses and an iconic symbol of the nation’s strength and freedoms, respectively.
His newest release, “The Drama of Presidential Inaugurations and Inaugural Addresses from Washington Through to Biden,” is a 330-plus page hardback book published earlier this year by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Before that, “The Bald Eagle and Its Legacy: An Encyclopedia of a High-Flying American Icon in U.S. History: Nature, Law and Culture,” a nearly 390-page paperback book, was published in late 2022 by William S. Hein & Co. Inc.
The longtime MTSU faculty member and administrator, political science scholar and constitutional history expert with the MTSU Free Speech Center has written and edited numerous books, including volumes on the U.S. Constitution, First Amendment, Supreme Court decisions, religion, iconic American symbols and more.
Vile’s writing on inaugurations and inaugural addresses provides a chronologically arranged summary of each ceremony and accompanying events, plus analysis of each speech.
“There are lots of compilations of presidential inaugural addresses, but not that many analyses,” he said “I hope my summaries encourage readers to read the original speeches. … Each time I do a current president, I try to keep in mind how his speeches compare to those who preceded.”
His book on the bald eagle provides numerous A to Z entries about the iconic American symbol and its place in American culture from 1492 to 2022.
Poet Emily Dickinson, Sam the Eagle puppet from Jim Henson’s Muppets show and movie, The Eagles rock band, U.S. presidents and an episode from the “Lassie” television show are among hundreds of inclusions in the book.
“I try to emphasize in my books on American symbols the way such symbols are reflected in popular culture,” Vile said. “It’s not an area in which I am particularly conversant, but it’s fun to see how political images pervade this area.”
In addition to the hours of writing and self-editing, Vile spends as much or more time in research for each book, which can be ordered online.
A graduate of both the College of William and Mary and University of Virginia, the Virginia native’s next work will be on presidential vetoes, he said.
“I began by finding out all the technical aspects of the veto, then began working president by president,” he said. “As I go, I’m also looking for general themes — presidential vetoes of appropriations bills, or bills dealing with defense or with labor issues, etc.”
Vile, a sought-after expert by print, digital and broadcast media, was named the Phi Kappa Phi Scholar for 2020-22, received the statewide Harold Love Award for Public Service for 2017-18 and received the MTSU Career Achievement Award in 2010-11.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)