Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Presidential Reading

When I was a kid I was surprised to come to the realization that I loved reading historical fiction. It started with some books about the civil rights movement and then the Salem witch trials. That's when I stumbled across Ann Rinaldi who wrote historical fiction for young adults. I read quite a few of her books and was hooked. For some reason I somewhat forgot about my love for reading historical books as a child and have mostly read fiction and classics as I've gotten older. Then in June I stumbled across the book Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies by J.B. West. I found the book fascinating and loved the glimpse into the lives of the first ladies as well as the presidents. West's relationship with Jackie Kennedy and his obvious adoration for her in particular stirred my interest in reading more about her so I went off on a tangent reading books about Jackie Kennedy which led to some books about JFK and then Bobby Kennedy. During a map learning theme I was doing with Carter we talked a little bit about explorers and read a book about Lewis and Clark. That led to me reading an adult book about Lewis and Clark's expedition which led to a greater interest in Thomas Jefferson which in turn led to reading a book about Thomas Jefferson. Once I read about Jefferson, I wanted to read about Washington and Lincoln. It also piqued my interested in James Madison and James Monroe, both proteges of Jefferson who were mentioned in the book about him.
Elise loves to read almost as much as I do!
Carter is my little reader!
I decided it would be fun to read at least one book about each president, either written by or about him. I'd like to keep track of this list separately from my reading list I've been tracking through my 30 for 30 and 31st year birthday reading lists. Below I'm listing the books I'm considering reading for each president. I'm not sure which I'll pick for each president since I haven't checked availability with our library. The books listed in bold are ones I've already read and the presidents with highlighted names are ones I consider completed. I'm going to include some books that are about family members to presidents just for fun. It will take me awhile to get through the list since I don't plan to simply read presidential biographies for a long string of time. I will weave them in throughout my other reading. There are too many books I want to read to pigeon hole myself into one area for a long period of time! Most of the books listed below came from a list I found here. If you know of any great presidential biographies, I'd love your input!

George Washington:
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow (this is the next one I will start and I know our library has it because I have checked.

John Adams:
John Adams by John Ferling, John Adams by David McCulloush, Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams by Joseph J. Ellise, Abigail Adams by Woody Holton, First Family: Abigail and John Adams by Joseph J. Ellis, A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign by Edward J. Larson

Thomas Jefferson:
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham, A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign by Edward J. Larson, Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen E. Ambrose 

James Madison:
James Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketchem, James Madison by Richard Brookhiser

James Monroe:
The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness by Harlow Giles Unger, James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity by Harry Ammon

John Quincy Adams:
John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life by Paul Nagel, John Quincy Adams by Paul Nagel, John Quincy Adams by Robert V. Remini

Andrew Jackson:
American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham, The life of Andrew Jackson by Robert V. Remini

Martin Van Buren:
Martin Van Buren by Donald Cole, Martin Van Buren by Ted Widmer, Martin Van Buren: The Romantic Age of American Politics by John Niven

William Henry Harrison:
Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Times by Freeman Cleaves, Mr. Jefferson's Hammer: William Henry Harrison by Robert Owens, William Henry Harrison by Gail Collins

John Tyler:
John Tyler by Gary May, John Tyler: Champion of the Old South by Oliver P. Chitwood

James K. Polk:
The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America by Walter R. Borneman, A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk by Robert Merry 

Zachary Taylor:
Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest by K. Jack Bauer, Zachary Taylor by John S. D. Eisenhower 

Millard Fillmore:
Millard Fillmore: Biography of a President by Robert J. Rayback, Millard Fillmore by Paul Finkelman 

Franklin Pierce:
Franklin Pierce by Michael Holt, Franklin Pierce by Michael Holt

James Buchanan:
President James Buchanan: A Biography by Philip S. Klein

Abraham Lincoln:
Lincoln by David Herbert Donald, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen B. Oates

Andrew Johnson:
Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy by David Stewart, Andrew Johnson by Annette Gordon-Reed

Ulysses S. Grant:
Grant by Jean Edward Smith, Grant: A Biography by William S. McFeeley, Ulysses S. Grant by Josiah Bunting

Rutherford B. Hayes:
Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior and President by Ari Hoogenboom, Rutherford B. Hayes by Hans Trefousse, Rutherford B. Hayes and his America by Harry Barnard

James Garfield:
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard, Garfield: A Biography by Allan Peskin

Chester Arthur:
Gentleman Boss: The Life of Chester Alan Arthur by Thomas C. Reeves, Chester Alan Arthur by Zachary Karabell

Grover Cleveland:
Grover Cleveland: A Study in Character by Alyn Bordsky, Grover Cleveland by Henry F. Graff

Benjamin Harrison:
Benjamin Harrison: Hoosier Statesman by Harry Joseph Sievers, Benjamin Harrison by Charles W. Calhoun

William McKinley:
The President and the Assassin by Scott Miller, William McKinley and His America by H. Wayne Morgan, Presidency of William McKinley by Lewis L. Gould

Theodore Roosevelt:
The River of Doubt by Candice Millard, Power and Responsibility by William Harbaugh, Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt by David McCullough, Theodore Roosevelt Trilogy by Edmund Morris

William Howard Taft:
The Life and Times of William Howard Taft by Harry F. Pringle, The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Woodrow Wilson:
Woodrow Wilson: A Biography by John Milton Cooper Jr., Wilson by A. Scott Berg

Warren G. Harding:
The Shadow of a Blooming Grove: Warren G. Harding in His Times by Francis Russell, Warren G. Harding by John W. Dean

Calvin Coolidge:
Coolidge: An American Enigma by Robert Sobel, Calvin Coolidge: The Quiet President by Donald McCoy, Calvin Coolidge: The Man From Vermont by Robert Sobel 

Herbert Hoover:
Herbert Hoover: A Biography by Eugene Lyons, Herbert Hoover by William E. Leuchtenburg

Franklin Roosevelt:
Franklin D. Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom by Conrad Black, No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Eleanor and Franklin by Joseph Lash, 

Harry S. Truman:
Truman by David McCullough, Harry S. Truman by Robert Dallek

Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Eisenhower: Soldier and President by Stephen E. Ambrose, Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith

John F. Kennedy:
A Thousand Days by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK's Five-Year Campaign by Thomas Oliphant and Curtis Wilkie, An Unfinished Life by Robert Dallek, Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill, The Making of the President 1960 by Theodore H. White, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy interviews by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story by Barbara Leaming, The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Ruth Francisco, The Kennedy Detail by Gerald Blaine
Although I've obviously read A LOT on Jackie and JFK, I'm interested in the books listed first which I have not read.

Lyndon B. Johnson:
Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin, The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: The White House Years by Joseph A. Califano Jr.

Richard Nixon:
Nixonland by Richard Perlstein, Nixon Trilogy by Stephen E. Ambrose, The Making of the President 1960 by Theodore H. White

Gerald Ford:
Gerald R. Ford by Douglas Brinkley

Jimmy Carter:
Jimmy Carter by Julian E. Zelizer

Ronald Reagan:
President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon, My Father at 100 by Ron Reagan Jr.

George H.W. Bush:
George H.W. Bush by Timothy Naftali

Bill Clinton:
First in His Class by David Maraniss, The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House by John F. Harris, What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton, It Takes a Village by Hillary Rodham Clinton

George W. Bush:
Decision Points by George W. Bush, Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush

Barack Obama:
Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama by David Remnick, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

Related Books I'm Interested in Reading:
RFK: A Candid Biography of Robert F. Kennedy by C. David Heymann
The Revolution of Robert Kennedy by John R. Bohrer
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson
Treating People Well by Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard


  1. As a kid I read a series of biographies of presidents, their wives, famous people of the past like Molly Pitcher, Florence Nightingale, etc. I really enjoyed them.