Have you heard of the popular idea of reading a quality biography on every President of the United States? There are blogs where bloggers trace their journey through the Presidents, there are groups on Goodreads dedicated to this pursuit, and there are far more people starting this quest than you might imagine. I don’t know exactly what percentage of them finish, but many start. Presidential biographies do quite well on non-fiction bestseller lists as well.
Why might this be so popular? Well, it makes a good bucket list item–I mean, we have 44 Presidents so far. Still, there has to be more to it than that. More profitably, it is an exciting and thorough way to grasp the history of our country. Even if you love to read, and even if you love history, have you ever read anything more boring than a text book? Stringing together key facts will never match the living tales of history’s greatest shapers. In addition, disgust with modern history might make going into the past a cathartic experience.
It takes some commitment. A biography of John Tyler, for example, will never match one of George Washington, but you will have to read one of him to finish this feat. Plus, if you pick the wrong biography, even the more interesting Presidents may be difficult to get through.
I have decided to join the other Presidential biography readers to the lofty heights of achieving this goal. My only difference is that I am going to be a rebel to the typical rules of accomplishing it. I will not force myself to read them in order, but as the spirit moves me. I also might read two or three of one President before I read one of another. The point is pleasant reading, learning, and growth. In other words, I am more excited about the journey than the summit.
If you know me, or read this blog, you know I read all kinds of Christian literature. That is not going to change. I also read other non-fiction, as well as only very occasional fiction, and I don’t plan to change that either. But I am going to fit this in even if it takes a lifetime, assuming I have a lifetime to give it.
If you are even remotely thinking about reading Presidential biographies, you must check out this blog: My Journey Through The Best Presidential Bios by Stephen Floyd. The amazing thing about this blogger is that not only is he doing them in order, but he is reading several on each President. Then he gives a detailed review on each title followed by a summary post on the biographies of each President. He apparently loves the rest of us to compile such an incredible amount of material for us. I will read him before I decide on each President. He even tells us if a volume is expensive or hard to find–talk about doing all the work!
As he has done, I am going to list each volume in my library. When I finish and do a review, I will link it in the list. Click on the highlighted ones to go to my individual reviews. I might even do a summary post on particular Presidents to share my thoughts about the man, unless laziness overtakes me. If any of my blog readers or Facebook friends and acquaintances, are either on the quest or starting it, please let me know in the comment section or a private message. My readers are overwhelmingly Christians (with varying levels of loving to read), but I would love to know if any others are on this journey.
MY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY:
Washington by Ron Chernow
G. Washington in the American Revolution by James Thomas Flexner
G. Washington: Anguish and Farewell by James Thomas Flexner
His Excellency G. Washington by Joseph Ellis
Founding Father by Richard Brookhiser
G. Washington by Willard Sterne Randall
G. Washington by Shelby Little
J. Adams by David McCullough
J. Adams and the American Revolution by Catherine Dinker Bowen
J. Adams by Anne Husted Burleigh
America’s First Dynasty: The Adames by Richard Brookhiser
T. Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
J. Madison by Richard Brookhiser
Madison’s Gift by David Stewart
The Last Founding Father (Monroe) by Harlow Giles Unger
J. Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger
J. Quincy Adams and the Union by Samuel Flagg Bemis
The Life of A. Jackson by Marquis James
American Lion (Jackson) by Jon Meacham
Martin Van Buren by Ted Widmer
William Henry Harrison by Gail Collins
Polk by Walter Borneman
Lincoln by David Herbert Donald
Team of Rivals (Lincoln) by Doris Kearns Goodwin
A. Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years by Carl Sanburg
Great Captain (Lincoln) by Honore Morrow
Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography
Herdon’s Life of Lincoln
Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant
Captain Sam Grant by Lloyd Lewis
Grant Moves South by Bruce Catton
Grant Takes Command by Bruce Catton
The Presidencies of Grover Cleveland by Richard Welch Jr.
Mornings On Horseback (T.R.) by Davis McCullough
River of Doubt by Candice Millard
The Presidency of T. Roosevelt by Lewis Gould
The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Life of Wilson by Josephus Daniels
Wilson by A. Scott Berg
The Life of Warren G. Harding by Willis Fletcher Johnson
The Autobiography of C. Coolidge
Coolidge by Amity Shales
Herbert Hoover in the White House by Rappleye
H. Hoover: A Biography by Eugene Lyons
H. Hoover by Joan Hoff Wilson
No Ordinary Time (FDR) by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Truman by David McCullough
Eisenhower by Stephen Ambrose
My Three Years With Eisenhower by Capt. Harry Butcher
President Kennedy by Richard Reeves
Richard Nixon by Fawn Brodie
In The Arena by Richard Nixon
G. Ford by David Brinkley
An American Life by Ronald Reagan
The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon
Speaking My Mind by Ronald Reagan
When Character Was King by Peggy Noonan
R. Reagan: How An Ordinary Man Became An Extraordinary Leader by D’Souza
Reagan’s War by Peter Schweizer
Reagan:Inside Out by Bob Slosser
Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan by Shirley
Hand of Providence by Mary Beth Moore
41: A Portrait Of My Father by George W. Bush
Decision Points by George W. Bush
Bush by Jean Edward Smith
These volumes may seem a hodgepodge set and they are. I have picked them up over the years (I clearly have wanted to be on this journey for a long time and have already read some) as I came across them in good deals. I have several more volumes than I need to secure. Would love to hear any recommendations! God bless!