Best Presidential Biographies (nonfiction)

Best books about the Presidents of the United States of America.
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4.28 avg rating — 139,679 ratings
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4.08 avg rating — 47,639 ratings
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4.12 avg rating — 73,898 ratings
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4.23 avg rating — 38,506 ratings
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4.21 avg rating — 49,719 ratings
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4.19 avg rating — 39,262 ratings
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4.44 avg rating — 15,309 ratings
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3.80 avg rating — 39,663 ratings
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3.92 avg rating — 33,806 ratings
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4.18 avg rating — 38,455 ratings
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4.40 avg rating — 13,505 ratings
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13

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4.42 avg rating — 15,986 ratings
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14

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4.12 avg rating — 23,877 ratings
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15

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4.01 avg rating — 27,236 ratings
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16

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4.24 avg rating — 20,198 ratings
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17

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3.92 avg rating — 20,321 ratings
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18

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4.18 avg rating — 15,792 ratings
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19

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4.12 avg rating — 7,038 ratings
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20

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4.18 avg rating — 33,362 ratings
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21

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4.08 avg rating — 10,025 ratings
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22

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4.07 avg rating — 8,612 ratings
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23

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4.15 avg rating — 6,510 ratings
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23

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4.53 avg rating — 15,686 ratings
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25

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4.17 avg rating — 46,859 ratings
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26

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3.79 avg rating — 34,583 ratings
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27

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3.91 avg rating — 6,912 ratings
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28

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3.94 avg rating — 12,609 ratings
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29

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4.27 avg rating — 4,622 ratings
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30

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4.07 avg rating — 46,697 ratings
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31

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4.23 avg rating — 6,766 ratings
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32

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3.96 avg rating — 4,857 ratings
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33

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4.09 avg rating — 18,041 ratings
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34

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3.81 avg rating — 6,616 ratings
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35

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4.26 avg rating — 2,769 ratings
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36

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4.24 avg rating — 13,952 ratings
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37

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4.09 avg rating — 3,758 ratings
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38

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3.87 avg rating — 176,551 ratings
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39

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4.50 avg rating — 2,696 ratings
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40

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4.02 avg rating — 6,669 ratings
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41

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4.03 avg rating — 87,551 ratings
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42

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3.88 avg rating — 3,857 ratings
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43

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4.16 avg rating — 7,388 ratings
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44

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4.10 avg rating — 5,272 ratings
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45

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3.97 avg rating — 39,230 ratings
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46

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4.12 avg rating — 13,105 ratings
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47

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4.14 avg rating — 5,271 ratings
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48

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4.19 avg rating — 3,919 ratings
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49

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3.73 avg rating — 41,623 ratings
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50

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4.07 avg rating — 5,136 ratings
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51

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4.05 avg rating — 2,666 ratings
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52

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4.26 avg rating — 2,619 ratings
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53

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3.92 avg rating — 1,288 ratings
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54

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4.04 avg rating — 3,180 ratings
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55

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4.09 avg rating — 5,240 ratings
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56

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4.12 avg rating — 1,550 ratings
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57

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3.95 avg rating — 94 ratings
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58

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3.75 avg rating — 130,799 ratings
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59

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3.82 avg rating — 6,748 ratings
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60

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3.76 avg rating — 910 ratings
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61

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3.91 avg rating — 8,747 ratings
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62

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4.11 avg rating — 2,488 ratings
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63

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4.08 avg rating — 7,810 ratings
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64

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4.31 avg rating — 418 ratings
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65

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3.53 avg rating — 2,057 ratings
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66

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3.95 avg rating — 3,552 ratings
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67

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4.12 avg rating — 7,746 ratings
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68

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3.97 avg rating — 1,029 ratings
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69

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4.14 avg rating — 302 ratings
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70

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4.15 avg rating — 8,006 ratings
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71

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3.97 avg rating — 2,071 ratings
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72

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4.16 avg rating — 1,739 ratings
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73

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3.92 avg rating — 3,845 ratings
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74

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4.05 avg rating — 2,096 ratings
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75

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4.14 avg rating — 551 ratings
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76

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4.25 avg rating — 4,695 ratings
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77

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3.98 avg rating — 10,766 ratings
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78

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4.02 avg rating — 2,962 ratings
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79

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3.75 avg rating — 7,093 ratings
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80

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4.27 avg rating — 103 ratings
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81

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4.09 avg rating — 485 ratings
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82

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3.97 avg rating — 381 ratings
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83

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3.81 avg rating — 5,731 ratings
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84

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4.05 avg rating — 1,766 ratings
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85

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4.05 avg rating — 248 ratings
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86

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3.97 avg rating — 2,424 ratings
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87

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3.99 avg rating — 2,130 ratings
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88

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3.92 avg rating — 3,144 ratings
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89

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3.94 avg rating — 361 ratings
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90

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4.15 avg rating — 1,161 ratings
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91

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3.83 avg rating — 1,530 ratings
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92

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4.01 avg rating — 4,382 ratings
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93

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4.19 avg rating — 203 ratings
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94

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3.64 avg rating — 577 ratings
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95

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4.24 avg rating — 353 ratings
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96

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4.08 avg rating — 266 ratings
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97

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3.92 avg rating — 4,290 ratings
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98

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3.96 avg rating — 1,137 ratings
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98

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4.02 avg rating — 1,581 ratings
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100

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4.11 avg rating — 229 ratings
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283 books · 464 voters · list created November 8th, 2010 by Douglas (votes) .
209 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Douglas 1880 books
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Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) 546 books
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Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 3160 books
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Comments Showing 1-29 of 29 (29 new)

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message 1: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Dunham Pretty good list so far despite several that are not presidential biographies


message 2: by Eric (new)

Eric Smith Can the non-presidential biographies be removed? If they can, I think they should be.


message 3: by Doug (new)

Doug Too many of these are about the current President. It is impossible for an adequate biography to be written less than 20-30 years after a President leaves office. No President's campaign biography deserves to be on the list since the person hasn't been President when it was written.


message 4: by Holly (new)

Holly Part of my book bucket list is to read a book about every president. I am going to put a lot of faith in this list to help me select the best book to read. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads There should be biographies of most of all of them out there - some are more popular topics than others, of course. (Acres and acres of books on Lincoln and the Roosevelts, for example, and maybe not so much on Millard Fillmore.)


message 6: by Elyse (new)

Elyse Holly wrote: "Part of my book bucket list is to read a book about every president. I am going to put a lot of faith in this list to help me select the best book to read. Any other suggestions would be greatly ap..."

I'm trying to accomplish the same project as you. I'm on #16 - Lincoln. I found biographies on the previous 15 presidents but I won't be putting all on this list as "Best" biographies. Some really stunk. I persevered and painfully finished them anyway so I could move on. It took me three tries to find a decent book about Martin Van Buren and I still only rated it 3 stars. I've chosen A. LINCOLN by Ronald C. White, Jr. as my choice among many for Mr. Lincoln. I hope it's a good one.


message 7: by Holly (new)

Holly Thank you. I am just getting started. Recently, I was shopping at a second hand store and stumbled across the book Truman by David McCullough. Though I am a long way from Truman, I picked it up and started thumbing through it. A lady near by looking the books noticed I was looking at this book. She said it was very good. I took that as a sign and bought it. Then, the young man at the cash register said it was a great book.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Truman is excellent.


message 9: by Holly (new)

Holly Thank you. Have you read any other presidential biographies that you would recommend?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I've read the top 5 of this list, and all are very good. Anything by David McCullough.


message 11: by Holly (new)

Holly Thank you. Knowing that will help me get started.


message 12: by Elyse (new)

Elyse Holly wrote: "Thank you. Knowing that will help me get started."

I agree with Susanna - anything by David McCullough is bound to be good. My favorite presidential biography so far has been "A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent by Robert W. Merry." I didn't know anything about Polk before I read this. He told America he only wanted to be president for one term, he wanted to accomplish this, this and this, he accomplished those things and as promised, didn't run for a second term. Quite refreshing.


message 13: by Holly (new)

Holly Thank you for your input.


message 14: by JEREMY (new)

JEREMY TWYMAN Reading a biography of every US President is my goal - then I will retire. Interestingly, sometimes I read books quickly and other times when work is under control and largely enjoyable the pace slows. Suddenly I find I have only 5 to go. I will end with Taft, the heaviest president. I confess also that I have replaced Trump with Alexander Hamilton.
Jeremy Twyman


message 15: by Holly (new)

Holly Thank you for your response.

When I first set this goal I did not realize the difficulty I would have in selecting books. What helped you decide what book to choose? Also, how did you decide on the order that you read them?


message 16: by Elyse (new)

Elyse Holly - I decided to start at the begining with GW and work my way along in order. Each biography sets the stage for the next one. So far every biography I've read mentions the previous president and the one after so the flow is continuous. I think it's important to know the political mood of America concerning the previous president prior to reading about the next one.


message 17: by Holly (new)

Holly Elyse
Thank you for your input. I think I will read them in the order they served. I am just starting Washington by Ron Chernow. This book seemed to be at the top of a lot of lists.


message 18: by JEREMY (new)

JEREMY TWYMAN I decided to read them as they took my fancy. I was going to read Washington last but am reading him now instead. I started with Andrew Jackson. Sometimes it's nice to flit from 20th century to the 19th. And to be honest it's also good to sometimes read a short biography! The big fat ones are probably best read in bed during the winter. I enjoyed 'The Bully Pulpit' and the McKinley a lot. I follow Trump on Twitter just out of interest so I guess reading a few tweets will cover him.
Jeremy


message 19: by Holly (new)

Holly That makes sense. I was wondering how you were deciding to read the books. I am embarrassed to say, I am not very knowledgeable about US history, so I thought reading about the presidents in the order they served would help me. What book on Washington are you reading?


message 20: by JEREMY (new)

JEREMY TWYMAN It's the Chernow. Enjoyable but not as interesting as Hamilton ...yet.


message 21: by Holly (new)

Holly I am just now starting.


message 22: by Eric (new)

Eric Smith Elyse wrote: "Holly - I decided to start at the begining with GW and work my way along in order. Each biography sets the stage for the next one. So far every biography I've read mentions the previous president a..."

The 45 years from after Lincoln up to Teddy, are dull - you might not make it. I recommend reading the great presidents first, then the near greats, then connecting presidents between those. For example: Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Teddy, FDR, Reagan; then John Adams - connects Washington & Lincoln, then John Quincy Adams - connects Jeffersonial era to Jacksonian. Etc. Reading in a linear order is too boring, too many poor presidencies to get through. Has worked for me.


message 23: by Eric (new)

Eric Smith JEREMY wrote: "I decided to read them as they took my fancy. I was going to read Washington last but am reading him now instead. I started with Andrew Jackson. Sometimes it's nice to flit from 20th century to the..."

I agree with you!

The 45 years from after Lincoln up to Teddy, are dull - you might not make it. I recommend reading the great presidents first, then the near greats, then connecting presidents between those. For example: Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Teddy, FDR, Reagan; then John Adams - connects Washington & Lincoln, then John Quincy Adams - connects Jeffersonial era to Jacksonian. Etc. Reading in a linear order is too boring, too many poor presidencies to get through. Has worked for me.


message 24: by Holly (new)

Holly I like your suggestion as well. There is a lot to think about.


message 25: by KinPA (new)

KinPA Holly wrote: "Part of my book bucket list is to read a book about every president. I am going to put a lot of faith in this list to help me select the best book to read. Any other suggestions would be greatly ap..."

I started the same bucket list project after reading an article called "43 Books for 43 Presidents":

http://www.realclearbooks.com/article...

The list suggests one biography for each President. I start by considering that choice, many of which have been excellent, but sometimes choose to read a different one. Readers' reviews on Amazon or this website are helpful. I don't care for the biographies of the "The American Presidents Series". These are usually not in-depth and some are written with a distinct political slant.
I suggest starting with Washington and reading them in order. You'll get a great education in American History.


message 26: by Holly (new)

Holly Thank you so much for your input. I greatly appreciate your help.
Holly


message 27: by Jeff (last edited Jan 01, 2018 04:46AM) (new)

Jeff Holly wrote: "Part of my book bucket list is to read a book about every president..."

Another good list at http://bestpresidentialbios.com . Fantastic blog, and the guy is reading MULTIPLE bios of each president, in order. Great information. I, too, am only reading some of his #1 picks because I put my list together from multiple sources. But he's reviewed everything I've read so far (100 pages left in #21 Chester Arthur). Happy new year!


message 28: by Doc (new)

Doc Quatermass Have at it... lol :)

https://bestpresidentialbios.com/


message 29: by Doc (new)


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