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In honor of President’s Day, I wanted to share some amazing books about U.S. presidents. I LOVE reading biographies and autobiographies. These people inspire me, teach me (both what to do and what NOT to do), and in most cases, they become friends.
If you are looking to learn more about those who have occupied the White House, the books below are all excellent. On more controversial figures, I really recommend reading several books about them to see the larger picture of who they were and the effects of what they did. How the electoral college played a part in each of their elections is also super interesting.
I have not read about any living presidents yet- I want to wait until their history settles a bit and books that are written about them are a bit more objective. 🙂 I am always looking for great book suggestions, and I have a lot more presidents to learn about, so please send me your recommendations!
Books about U.S. Presidents
Destiny of the republic, by Candice Millard
The is hands down, my favorite book. When I first heard about it, I was like, “Who is James Garfield? Who cares about James Garfield?” I am now here to tell you, that you SHOULD care about James Garfield!
This is SO fascinating, and James Garfield was AMAZING. I have a bit of a crush on him now. Did you know that he never wanted to run for president? He went to his party’s convention to nominate someone else– but ended up being nominated instead! The story is CRAZY! I could gush about this book forever, but the author masterfully weaves together Alexander Graham Bell, Joseph Lister, the progress of medicine, a literally insane assassin, the aftermath of the Civil War, and more. I wanted to cry when I got to the end.
John Adams, by David McCullough
I adore John Adams while fully acknowledging all of his faults. If we get to talk to people in Heaven one day, he is on my list. He was fearless in his pursuit of what he thought was right, and his integrity was exemplary. He was away from his family for what added up to decades and sacrificed much for his country. On the other hand, he was vain, ambitious, a poor president, and a cruddy father. This book by David McCullough is fantastic. The HBO series “John Adams” based on this book is also excellent, though pretty gritty in places and not for kids.
Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
This is THE book about Lincoln. So, so, good. His kindness and wisdom in dealing with others who were deliberately trying to make him fail gets me every time. Exceptional book.
1776, by David McCullough
This details the first year of the Revolutionary War. Though the story extends beyond George Washington, he is at the center. Washington did not have a ton of military experience, and he honestly wasn’t the best general. But his leadership and dedication, despite his weaknesses, was what helped bring the country together.
The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard
Theodore Roosevelt takes on the Amazon! After he embarrassingly lost his last presidential bid, Teddy took to the Amazon to distract him from his loss. It worked. The story is harrowing. I didn’t like this as much as Millard’s other book, but I’m not much of an explorer-type person. The adventure is crazy though- it is amazing what people can endure and accomplish!
Bonus: Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
Ok, so he wasn’t president. But he rubbed shoulders with a ton of them and developed our monetary and financial systems. He was a brilliant and charming genius, but also an orphan with a miserable past. The story of Alexander Hamilton is one of truth being stranger than fiction. I loved this book- and it is what the Broadway “Hamilton” play is based off of!
Thanks Jen! I’ve been wanting to read some government/history books, but was a little overwhelmed at where to start! I trust your great sense and appreciate these recommendations. I’m excited to read these books!