Presidential Biographies discussion

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General Discussion > What bios have you been reading recently?

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message 1: by Mike (new)

Mike | 5 comments Hi everyone!

New to the group and looking to get the conversation going again. What have you all been reading lately? Any good bios? Any good history?

If you're interested in general US history discussion, please also consider joining my group, the creatively named U.S. History Reading Group!

Thanks!


message 2: by Diane (new)

Diane | 6 comments I just started Destiny of the Republic (Garfield) which comes highly recommended on GR


message 3: by Peter A. (new)

Peter A.  van Tilburg  | 14 comments I just finish Bernsteins short biography on Thomas Jefferson. Very interesting to learn on the basis as from the first cabinet of George Washington where the Republican versus the Federalist were an issues right from the start and this works in the controversies untill these days. Further the dilemmas in the life of Jefferson with regard to e.g. The Lousiana Purchase and slavery are well described.


message 4: by Mike (new)

Mike | 5 comments Diane - You're in for a treat. That is a fantastic read!

As for the Bernstein, I will add it to my list! I was not impressed by Meacham's bio.

I'm reading Fred Kaplan's John Quincy Adams, which is very good so far. I absolutely loved his father's story, so I have high hopes for this one.


message 5: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Just finished Robert Remini's Life of Andrew Jackson...excellent!


message 6: by Steve (new)

Steve | 8 comments I also enjoyed Remini's series on Jackson (although that was almost 18 months ago). More recently I read Edmund Morris's series on Teddy Roosevelt and thought it was great - the best so far of more than a half dozen bios I've read on TR.


message 7: by Mike (new)

Mike | 5 comments Steve - the first volume in the Morris trilogy is fantastic.


message 8: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Roth (sdhardrocker) | 3 comments Last year I read The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Morris and LOVED it. One of the best books I read last year. I read Theodore Rex in January and didn't enjoy it as much; lots of mundane detail and the book drags along.

I did just finish Richard Ben Cramer's "What It Takes" about the 1988 presidential election. What a joy to read! Cramer provided an intimate look at six candidates for president, trying to get at the core issues: WHAT makes them KEEP GOING, HOW do they FEEL running, WHY do they think they can LEAD the country of millions of people? Cramer tried to answer this and I think did it very well.


message 9: by Peter A. (new)

Peter A.  van Tilburg  | 14 comments I am curious on Theodore Rooseveelt who brought America in the modern times as I understand. What is the best (not too extended) biography I can read on him?


message 10: by Steve (last edited May 07, 2015 03:50AM) (new)

Steve | 8 comments Peter A. wrote: "I am curious on Theodore Rooseveelt who brought America in the modern times as I understand. What is the best (not too extended) biography I can read on him?"

For TR, I'm reading ten single-volume bios and the Morris series.

http://bestpresidentialbios.com/2015/...

I'm 2/3 of the way through and so far my favorite single-vol bio is William Harbaugh's "Power and Responsibility" with Brands's and Nathan Miller's books not too far behind. Morris's series is better than all of these but costs you an extra 1,200 pages or so...


message 11: by Diane (new)

Diane | 6 comments For early life, Mornings on Horseback by McCullough is a superb read.


message 12: by Claire (new)

Claire McCully (claire_the_shieldmaiden) | 12 comments John Quincy Adams is my favorite political leader in history, at least in the decades between George Washington and James Polk. He is a person who generally didn't veer from his principles, and who had an eery knack for understanding the consequences of inaction and political failures in his own time. In most respects, he was far more of a visionary than Jefferson, despite the fact he couldn't take credit for as many accomplishments (especially during his presidency).

Mike wrote: "Diane - You're in for a treat. That is a fantastic read!

As for the Bernstein, I will add it to my list! I was not impressed by Meacham's bio.

I'm reading Fred Kaplan's John Quincy Adams, which ..."



message 13: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 32 comments After a long interruption I have picked up "Old Tippecanoe" on William Harrison. I'm determined to complete it this week. Next will be Tyler. Any recommendations?


message 14: by Peter A. (new)

Peter A.  van Tilburg  | 14 comments I have read "his excellency George Washigton" and think that is a good summary of his life. I really admire him where he had the opportunity to become a kind of caesar, like his contemporary ruler Napoleon choose to be, choose to keep the power where it belongs: to all people who form a democracy together. This was really humble and wise.


message 15: by Peter A. (new)

Peter A.  van Tilburg  | 14 comments I have read "his excellency George Washigton" and think that is a good summary of his life. I really admire him where he had the opportunity to become a kind of caesar, like his contemporary ruler Napoleon choose to be, choose to keep the power where it belongs: to all people who form a democracy together. This was really humble and wise.


message 16: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Landry | 22 comments There aren't many biographies on Tyler. The one that I read was Oliver Chitwood's John Tyler: Champion of the Old South which I enjoyed. The other major Tyler biography I know of is Edward Crapol's John Tyler, The Accidental President. However, there's also Robert Seager's And Tyler Too which is a biography of John and Julia Gardiner Tyler. I believe when I was trying to decide on a Tyler biography to read, Chitwood's received the best reviews. I hope that helps and that you enjoy Old Tippecanoe!

Lisa wrote: "After a long interruption I have picked up "Old Tippecanoe" on William Harrison. I'm determined to complete it this week. Next will be Tyler. Any recommendations?"


message 17: by Steve (new)

Steve | 8 comments About a year ago I read three Tyler bios: by Gary May, Oliver Chitwood and Edward Crapol. I preferred May's short-and-sweet (but punchy) bio ever so slightly over Chitwood's more thorough review. I found Crapol's bio too short to be qualify as thorough and detailed...but too long to provide an efficient and easy reading experience.


message 18: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 32 comments Thanks! It sounds like Chitwood's is the one to read if I can only pick one.


message 19: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Hayes | 2 comments Just started reading "Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest" by K. Jack Bauer. Not many bios on Taylor, but given the reviews, this is the best.

The Andrew Jackson books by Robert Remini are fantastic! If you can find a set, I'd highly recommend the trilogy. I was lucky to find a set at a used bookstore a few years ago. Let me know how you like it.


message 20: by Amy (new)

Amy Loewen | 2 comments can someone recommend a good bio on Monroe


message 21: by Steve (last edited Jun 02, 2015 09:15AM) (new)

Steve | 8 comments Amy wrote: "can someone recommend a good bio on Monroe"

For what it's worth, I read two Monroe biographies that came highly recommended. I preferred the one by Harry Ammon, though not by much. Details here: http://wp.me/p302YQ-17D


message 22: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Roth (sdhardrocker) | 3 comments I'm thinking of reading a Jackson biography. Don't know much about him. which is the best?

Thought about picking up recently released Jacksonland, or maybe read American Lion on my shelf. What is the best one, if I could read just one?


message 23: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 32 comments I have only read American Lion and it is good.


message 24: by Steve (last edited Jun 03, 2015 08:32AM) (new)

Steve | 8 comments Wesley wrote: "I'm thinking of reading a Jackson biography. Don't know much about him. which is the best? Thought about picking up recently released Jacksonland, or maybe read American Lion on my shelf. What is..."

I read a half-dozen Jackson bios and my favorite one-vol bio was Robert Remini's "The Life of Andrew Jackson." But I liked his 3-vol series even better. Meacham & Brands each have bios that are pretty good, but aren't up to Remini's standards... More info here: http://wp.me/p302YQ-1ng


message 25: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Agree with Steve...Remini's one volume Andrew Jackson is great


message 26: by Mike (new)

Mike | 5 comments I can't wait to read the Remini series. I just finished Brands and I wasn't impressed. I thought his coverage of the presidency was really underwhelming.


message 27: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Roth (sdhardrocker) | 3 comments Thank you for the replies. I picked up a copy of Remini's 1 volume Andrew Jackson last night!


message 28: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Hayes | 2 comments I just finished the book by Candice Millard detailing President James Garfield's assassination titled "Destiny of the Republic." One of the best books I've read in a long time. The story is well written and very engaging, much like a mystery novel. Highly recommended.


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