Because it’s President’s Day and most of us have some extra time on our hands (yay for long weekends), let’s take a moment to look at some of the best presidential biographies out now. These books, some newly-released and some not, are about past presidents that made their mark on this country – for better or for worse.
John A. Farrell
From prize-winning biographer John A. Farrell comes this riveting portrait of Richard Nixon, a man who led America in a time of turmoil and left us a darker age. Nixon divided America through his decisions as the leader of this country: from the bombing of Cambodia and Laos, to the McCarthy era, and of course, the scandal of Watergate. Due to his own insecurities and paranoia, he encouraged Americans to view each other as enemies. Richard Nixon is a gripping and unsparing portrayal of one of our darkest presidents, and serves as reminder to us to learn from past mistakes.
A President Confronts Democracy and Its Demons
Elizabeth Brown Pryor
Award-winning historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor takes an engrossing look at how Abraham Lincoln faced the challenges he encountered as the leader of our unruly democracy during his time as president. Based on extensive research that draws on hundreds of eyewitness letters, diaries, and newspaper excerpts, Six Encounters with Lincoln offers a never-before-seen portrait of Lincoln as the hard-pressed political figure who was not especially popular, and who had to face critics every step of the way throughout his career.
Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton, dazzles again with his biography of one of our most compelling generals and presidents: Ulysses S. Grant. Chernow’s evocative portrait of Grant showcases the highs and lows he experienced throughout his life, and provides readers with a deeper understanding of one our most underappreciated presidents. Grant is a masterful combination of research and style – it exposes the true story behind a Midwesterner that became extraordinary.
Genius, Partisan, President
Noah Feldman examines the Founding Father who transformed the United States in his “three lives” as a revolutionary thinker, a partisan political strategist, and as president. Madison was ahead of his time – he predicted that foreign threats would negatively affect civil liberties, he feared growing economic inequality, and believed that government by the people demanded resistance to wealth. Madison recognized the importance of the opinions of others, and thought of the media as a safeguard to liberty. His achievements and his struggles continue to impact the United States today.
An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times
This captivating biography documents the life of Herbert Hoover – one of the most remarkable Americans of the twentieth century. The text provides readers with an in-depth look at his life, his presidency, and his fight against the Great Depression that rocked this nation. Hoover’s vast successes and failures made him one of the most significant men in American history, and for the very first time, his momentous life is captured in a book for all to see.
A Political Life
Considering the current state of our nation, there is no better time to dive into Robert Dallek’s Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life. Roosevelt was a man of compromise – he sought to unite a divided country, and succeeded to do so by exhibiting a great sense of humanity. Roosevelt became a champion of the poor, and won an unprecedented four presidential terms, transforming an isolationist country into an international superpower. This gripping biography contains valuable lessons for leaders around the world.
The Battle That Shaped America's Destiny
Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager
During the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson was ordered to assemble a coalition of frontier militiamen, French-speaking Louisianans, Cherokee and Choctaw Indians, freed slaves, and even some pirates. And on top of that, he had to defeat the most powerful military force in the world in the complex terrain of the Louisiana bayous. Basically, Jackson needed a miracle. Kilmeade and Yaeger make history come alive with this mesmerizing page-turner. Readers will have a whole new understanding of this great American general, and a renewed appreciation for the brave men who fought so that our country could become what it is today.
H. W. Brands
In this informative biography, H. W. Brands brilliantly establishes Ronald Reagan as one of the two great presidents of the twentieth century – a true peer to Franklin Roosevelt. Reagan examines how Reagan’s confidence, determination, and beliefs enabled him to start a conservative revolution in American politics and bring an end to communism in the Soviet Union. Reagan: The Life is a must-read for anyone looking to learn more about the underestimated politician whose skillful leadership transformed the nation.