DiscussãoUS Presidents Challenge (USPC)

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Dez 15, 2008, 9:41am

General discussion site for the challenge

Dez 15, 2008, 5:51pm

Not trying to be a nitpicker, but should we define "biography"?

Are we going to define bio as the story of his life, starting somewhere close to birth with discussions of persons influential in early life, etc, moving on thru all years. Or is any book that touches on the presidential years going to count?

I can go either way, and with some of these fellows, we may have to take what we can get. with others, FDR, GW, Lincoln for example, we have such a wealth to choose from that I for one want to start with as general a narration as I can find. Then after I've had a chance to read about his whole life, i.e., influences, education, accomplishments, writings, speeches, family life, etc., I can decide if there are certain areas of that life I'd like to read more about (assuming that there are more books.)

I think by doing this challenge, we should be able to get enough variety in readings pointed out by various members that we will all eventually come up with a presidential list of way more than 43 books when taken in toto.

What say you group? Should we limit this, or let each person decide what non-fiction book about a President they want to read?

Dez 15, 2008, 6:10pm

It seems to me that on LT the best discussions happen when the rules aren't too strict. If people are reading different books about the same president that could add to the discussion. If people are reading the same book, they will probably want to compare notes. And people who are lurking will get a chance to get ideas for a choice of books about the president in which they are interested. imo :-)

Editado: Dez 15, 2008, 6:28pm

I wrote on the George Washington thread:
"Picked up my first President today - Patriarch for George. It's supposed to go in depth on the problems during his presidency so I can't wait to start it"

"Not trying to be a nitpicker, but should we define "biography"? This books purports to start at his presidency -which to me puts it in the category of other books. Are we going to define bio as the story of his life, starting somewhere close to birth with discussions of person influential in early life, etc, moving on thru all years. Or is any book that touches on the presidential years going to count."

"I wanted to start with this one and if I feel that I didn't get enough early years I may get another. I don't want to be so restrictivve that we are eliminating books simply because they don't go back far enough or end before he dies, I'm really looking for something that tells me about his presidential years. I've heard so much about his revolutionary years (Valley Forge, crossing the Delaware,etc.) but never very much about what he went through as the first President. That's why I chose this book above others.

I think each reader needs to determine what they want to "learn" from the challenge and each president. It may be something different from each guy.
One of the reasons I want to read them in order is to see if there is something that leads me to want to know more about the next guy because of what happened to the guy before him."

what do you all think?

Dez 15, 2008, 8:29pm

I agree that we should allow each person to decide what is appropriate. Sometimes I want a whole life story, and sometimes I want a review of just the term of office. And, like cyderry said above, "it may be something different from each guy". Some were/are more interesting as men than presidents (Jimmy Carter) and some presidencies are practically indistinguishable from the rest of their lives (Abraham Lincoln, FDR). I expect that some will be so obscure that we will simply have to take what we can get (Franklin Pierce - who?). Plus, knowing about the life and times leading up to a presidential term can increase our appreciation for how the events and issues were handled.

I think, if we really want to establish a rule, that we should resolve to avoid displaying a pro or con stand on the actions of specific presidents (especially the recent ones). Let's limit ourselves to learning about the issues each man faced and how he handled them, and gaining an understanding of how those actions affected the nation and the world - and stay away from labeling them right or wrong. That's not to say that a discussion can't take place concerning what the outcome might have been if a different action was taken, but that would be nothing more than an intellectual exercise - political discussions belong in other groups set up for that purpose (IMO).

Dez 15, 2008, 9:46pm


I think you have made an excellent suggestion. This should be an historical -- even recent history -- discussion place rather than a forum to argue politics. Another item for discussion of a book could also be how unbiased the biography was--did the author become more interested in polemics rather than in a well rounded account of the life.

Dez 15, 2008, 9:59pm

Oh I'm so delighted with everyone's input. Exactly the kind of discussion I hoped to have when we started this group. I agree with all the suggestions above. We set our own expectations about the 'in-depthness' (good word huh?) of our reading, and the order in which we read.

We avoid political discussions. I love the idea of reading with an eye for seeing whether the writer was biased. It will be interesting if we can try to read with an unbiased eye ourselves to try to see all sides of issues facing these men who did have the guts to take on the world's hardest job.

Dez 16, 2008, 11:04am

Just to add my two cents here--anything non-fictional about the history of the men who became presidents is open for me. For some, I just want an "opener" to introduce the adult, for others, I want the whole nine yards. I'm starting with a short biography of Grant I found in the library--mostly because I've wanted to read his autobiography--but it's really, really, really long, and I'd like a picture of the man before I start. Also, there will be slimmer pickings for some of the less illustrious or notorious men, so let's just see what we find to compare.

Dez 16, 2008, 12:54pm


What is the biography of Grant you are reading? I have a civil War category in my 999 challenge and I could "kill 2 birds" with a biography of Grant!

Dez 16, 2008, 1:06pm


Abraham Lincoln would work too.

Dez 16, 2008, 1:21pm


You're right!

Does anyone know of a really good one that isn't too much of a chunkster? 3 to 4 hundred pages is what i would have in mind--anything less probably wouldn't be satisfying and anything much more would probably be difficult because of the amount of "serious" reading I'll be doing!

Dez 16, 2008, 2:25pm

The Grant biography is Ulysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero by Michael Korda. It's short, crisp, and I suspect that Grant himself would have been impressed with the detail contained in so small a volume (less than 200 pages). Still--I wanted short synopsis of Grant's life before I take on the mega-tomes available. I also spied a book Buckeye Presidents: Ohioans in the White House which includes essays on the eight men from Ohio through Harding who became president. I will probably use this as a primer for some of these men as well.

Dez 16, 2008, 3:30pm

I just got Ulysses S. Grant by Josiah Bunting III. It is #18 in the American President series published by Time Books edited by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. I wanted to see if these books were too 'simple' but find it to be a good first step resource. this one is about 165 pages of text, and also includes a detailed 'milestones' and 4+ page bibliograpy which definitely can help point one toward other resources. I haven't actually read it yet, but think I can say if we get to the point where we can't identify a creditable biography, this series is a good place to start.

Dez 16, 2008, 3:39pm

Lincoln and his admirals : Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War - might fit perfectly and according to the library website for my library its only 430 pages.
Another might be Tried by war : Abraham Lincoln as commander in chief 329 pages.

House of Abraham : Lincoln and the Todds is another with only 255 pgs.

All three of these sound interesting to me and I will have to try to figure out which one I will read, but I probably won't get to Lincoln until 2010.

Dez 16, 2008, 4:30pm

#12 Prop2gether & #13 tututhefirst

My library has both of those books so I will request them for '09. I really want to read his memoirs--I've seen great reviews on that, but I'm not sure when I will have time to read it and I will probably want to buy it. So I will start with a short over-view biography which give me another president in '09 and will be great for the Civil War category, also.

Dez 16, 2008, 4:36pm

#14 cyderry

Hubby bought the audio of Tried by War and we will listen to that together. We started it on a trip a couple of weeks ago and will get back to it soon. This deals almost exclusively with Lincoln's role at Commander in Chief and how he redefined that role for future presidents. I think it is a very worthwhile book but I want a life of Lincoln also. I'm going to check out House of Abraham--that sounds intriguing.

Dez 16, 2008, 5:48pm

Grant's memoirs, depending on the publisher (and they're available from Gutenberg for a download) are between 650 and nearly 800 pages long in not too large type. Whew! I already have 2 books for 2009 which are over 1000 pages, plus 4 or 5 others coming in at 400 to 500 pages. We'll see how the year goes!

Dez 16, 2008, 10:22pm

#13 I have read a couple of the American Presidents series, and have found them to be very good introductions before getting into something more substantial. Unfortunately, they don't have volumes for all presidents (last I checked, anyway) and there are many different authors, so the research/writing may be uneven from one to another (although I don't have any complaints yet). From what I've seen of them, I think they could be counted as an adequate sole source for someone that you've only got a passing interest in.

Editado: Dez 17, 2008, 10:58am

Since we're having our discussions for each president on his thread, I think we need to have somewhere where we identify which Presidents we've each completed. So what I'd like to suggest is that we each indicate on our ticker message the Presidents that are included in the the number. Just their names nothing else or it could get messy.

So for instance, tututhefirst has 2 or her ticker - and would put George W. Bush and John Adams, just that.

So for those of you that don't have a ticker posted, if you don't want to put a ticker just have a completed message showing the Presidents names.

Dez 17, 2008, 11:38am

I thought this group might be interested in this article - Lynne Cheney To Write James Madison Biography

Dez 28, 2008, 7:14pm

Thanks for starting this group, cyderry--I'm very excited about it! I have read lots of books related to U.S. presidents/the presidency, and I'm adding them to the various threads in case anyone is interested.

Dez 28, 2008, 7:24pm

CARLYM...thanks for all the great leads on books for this challenge. I really appreciate your ideas and have added some of them to my TBR list.

Dez 31, 2008, 9:14am

Maybe someone could post a shared spreadsheet where we could track our progress?

Dez 31, 2008, 5:25pm

does the thread titled "presidential tickers" do what you have in mind?

Dez 31, 2008, 5:49pm

The Ticklers thread works for me...I think we can twist ourselves into a knot with too many lists--especially since many of us are participating in several shorter term challenges along the way of this 4 year beauty. I think by keeping our ticklers up to date, we can see how we're making progress. We will have to realize however, that unless we add a post to the thread, just editing the ticklers will not cause that to show up on the home page as a new post. Think I will ask Tim if we can't correct that somehow. Anyway, Happy New Year to all...the horses are approaching the starting gate.

Think snow!

Jan 4, 2009, 6:39pm

I have beem getting the American Presidents Series and have found them very interesting. They also show that while we wonder who some of them are and why were THEY elected, it explains about each president and what the electorate thought they would bring to the position. I also use the bibliographies as sources that could lead to searches for other bios of other presidents, key people of the time, issues of the time (prohibition, depression, civil war) etc.

Jan 9, 2009, 3:28pm

This is pretty cool... watch the eyes.

Jan 12, 2009, 8:27pm

#27 Cyderry- That was pretty cool. Interesting.

Jan 13, 2009, 11:45am

>27 cyderry: - That was a really good video. Thanks for the post.

I may look at that video to select the next biography, and just see who grabs me - with those eyes!

Jan 13, 2009, 8:40pm

What I noticed as much as the eyes was the smile - or lack. No one smiled until Jimmy Carter, and no one has stopped smiling since then!

Jan 14, 2009, 12:09am

After watching this, I really wondered why everyone makes such a big deal about Kennedy being so handsome. I've never thought he was that great looking, but this just reinforced that. Several of the earlier presidents were definitely more handsome. (Because a handsome president is what really matters :) )

Jan 14, 2009, 11:01am

"Several of the earlier presidents were definitely more handsome" - at least the ones you can see through all that hair! I can't even imagine a president now daring to wear a full beard, can you?

Editado: Jan 14, 2009, 11:44am

Particularly not if said president eventually comes to be a "she". Also, did you notice, there were'nt too many baldies....DDE was about the most in need of Rogaine..

Jan 14, 2009, 11:57am

#31--You know that Harding was supposedly elected by women (in their first national election) because he was so handsome. I'm not sure I see it, but...the presentation was fun.

Fev 12, 2009, 5:04pm

I've been wondering.... should we include Jefferson Davis since he was the only President of the Confederate States of America?

Editado: Fev 12, 2009, 7:55pm

I vote no....I'm trying to read the US presidents --not to say people can't/won't read about Jeff Davis, but I don't think it should 'count' toward the challenge. Of course, no-one really cares who/what I read it or not. My challenge, i.e., the reason I signed up, is to read biographies of the presidents.

If others want to expand their challenge, they can. and if I do, it will be under another thread (Presidential wannabes perhaps?) People can add King George, Queen Lilliokalani, King Kamehaha and Sam Houston too...they were all heads of state of various off-shoots, precursors, and territories of the USA. Little old moi is sticking to presidents --if and when I ever actually start this challenge sometime in the next 4 years.

Fev 13, 2009, 10:39pm

Fev 13, 2009, 11:54pm

what a great link!

Editado: Mar 29, 2009, 6:00pm

Another LTer invited me to join another history group and one of the questons that was asked, was .......

WHY do you like to read history?

I didn't think to much about it and answered....

I never really thought much about why I read history. I believe that the reason why I like to look at history is to try to understand how the actions and events that happened before I was born impact the lives of me and those that I love. I want to try to understand why people did what they did and possibly think about what life would have been like if things had been different.

I also believe that in knowing what people had to do to survive, it makes me appreciate the blessings that I have in my life.

But then I thought mre about why I took on this challenge and wrote to them.......

I've realized that part of the reason that I want to read history is that I feel deprived. Not of what they went through, but in looking back at my education, and I had a fairly good one, I feel like I missed some of the stories that now I'm getting to.

For instance, in high school when they started in on American history, the teachers concentrated on the Mayflower and Jamestown, and the Revolutionary War and then the Mexican War and then the Civil War. Somehow we never got to the politics of the day, how the government was formed, the diplomatic issues that were problems back when the good old USA was starting up. I don't remember ever getting to the 20th century in history class so I feel like I know nothing of the Great Depression other than the Stock Market crashed, WWII other than Hitler was the bad guy, or the threat of Communism - other than Russia was not a good place. Now I have the opportunity to go back and fill in all the blanks that I have in my knowledge of what has led up to where we are today.

That's the main reason why I have taken on the US President's Challenge to read their biographies. I felt that as the leaders of our nation, their bios would give me the information that is lacking in my knowledge. That said, I have found that I need to read a bunch of other books to fill in the background that their bios have not supplied. I have read bios for Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison so far as well as background books on the framing of the constitution, Benjamin Franklin's bio, Ladies of Liberty by Cokie Roberts which is about some of the women who had a major part in the early history of the US and a definitive account of the War of 1812. As I move forward in history, I hope to discover all the missing fragments that will make me feel that I truly understand where this nation came from and where it is going.

A BIG QUEST and I hope I'm up for the Challenge! I'm just glad I'm not doing it alone. Thanks everybody for the company!

Mar 29, 2009, 6:21pm

Cheli, what a great response. It feels like you've been reading my mind. Especially in your comments about the quality of education that we received in school. I say "we" because, even though we weren't in the same school, we certainly had the same experience. I don't ever remember getting past the civil war in American history. (In contrast, my kids got all the up through Viet Nam in their history classes - if I can remember it happening, then it can't be history, can it?)

I'd like to echo your gratitude for the company on this journey. It's an honor and a pleasure to be here together with you.

Abr 30, 2009, 1:19pm

My Goodness....there are non LTer's trying this challenge, but they seem to have much looser parameters than ours. We could probably all do both (easily) see...U.S. Presidents Reading Project.

Abr 30, 2009, 1:22pm

My Goodness....there are non LTer's trying this challenge, but they seem to have much looser parameters than ours. We could probably all do both (easily) see...U.S. Presidents Reading Project.

Maio 2, 2009, 8:34pm

Thanks, tutu. We might get some presidential book ideas there.

Jun 2, 2009, 12:03am

Some of my favorite books are not about the Presidents, but about the losers in the election. The impact some of the "losers" had on the future of their party is so interesting, like say Barry Goldwater, who got killed in the election, but had so much influence on the Republican Party. Or someone like George Wallace who had such a huge influence on the way future candidates ran for President (the "law and order" candidates). William Jennings Bryan and Eugene Debs are two others who despite not winning had large impacts despite not winning. Of course one of my favorite historical figures, Robert Kennedy could sort of fit in this topic-though he did not really "lose" but his 1968 campaign for the President is something that is oft-written about today. Not to take away from the winners, but sometimes the losers are more interesting.

And going hand in hand with that, I actually love reading about the election process, Grass Roots: One Year in the life of the New Hampshire presidential primary by Dayton Duncan is one of my favorite books about this subject, it details the 1988 Presidential primaries.

I hope this post is not too general...

Jun 2, 2009, 5:40pm

OAO--what a great idea to look at the 'losers'....that could make a whole new thread on this challenge, or almost a whole other challenge. I'm going to think about that as we go on.

Cheli--maybe we should edit the OPs to include the name of the loser so we can be on the lookout..

It would at least be interesting to see the 'winner' through the eyes of the loser.

Jun 2, 2009, 6:15pm

We're going to be getting that view of the winner through the eyes of the loser several times as it is, since many losers went on to win later. But I agree, of the guys who never win the oval office, many of them are very key and influential people in national history and are worthy of attention. That is the reason I took time out to read bio's of Burr and Hamilton when I was still in the founding fathers generation.

Jun 2, 2009, 6:36pm

I agree. The losers can offer a lot of insight. As I've read through the lives of the first few presidents, besides Abigail Adams, I think the most fascinating person to read about would be Alexander Hamilton.

Plus, depending on my route, I pass by Adlai Stevenson's old home on my way to work. I don't know much about him but would like to learn more.

Jun 2, 2009, 8:55pm

I also agree that the losers can offer more insight into the whole process. Especially the ones that did not win later on. The challenge will be finding good biographies of them.

Jun 2, 2009, 9:00pm

One and Only--You must read Theodore H. White's the Making of the President series. He was one of my favorite authors. The Series included 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972. I like you like to read about the campaigns.

Jun 3, 2009, 12:33am

I have one of White's book but I cannot find it anywhere (I think the 1960 one).

Politics of Rage by Dan Carter is a great read about George Wallace. I have not started it but, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus by Rick Perlstein is suppose to be very good. And finally The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and the 82 days That Inspired America by Thurston Clarke is a nice and easy read about RFK's too short run for the presidency.

I am excited to get started on the actual challenge though, I have 4 books on hold at the library that should be coming in soon...

Jun 3, 2009, 6:41pm

I think a loser ID would be interesting. I will work on it next week after I finish my assignment at Tim's office and update the OPs on each thread.

Jun 12, 2009, 3:34pm

Collections has thrown me off schedule, but I will work on the loser info... promise.

Several people have mentioned that they are getting very involved in the challenge, reading more than 1 book for a President if they felt like that wanted more info. I myself read 4 books for Jefferson because I wasn't satisfied with just one.

Just thought I'd warn everyone that there is a penalty if you don't finish by the time the next President is elected....

you have to read another book !!! HA..HA... gottcha!

Jun 12, 2009, 5:42pm

Krenzel16 made a very good point on the Jefferson thread that the historians who are writing the books we are reading may have their own agenda/viewpoint that while not blantantly biased, shows the President in question the way we expect to see them. Has anyone come across a book that depicted a president in a different light than what they had previously expected?

I know that I was somewhat taken aback by the different views of Jefferson in the books that I read about him and was definitely delighted at the information about Washington that showed him (IMO) in a different light then what I had learned in school.

I don't think that I am far enough along in the challenge to say more, but I will definitely be looking to find books that are historically accurate as well as telling a different side of a person than what I had heard.

So I really want you all to keep us posted on books that have new insights to the characters that we are searching for.

Happy reading!

Jun 12, 2009, 7:34pm

Well, not about John Adams, but I'm seeing a very different picture of Abigail when comparing Nagel's John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life to McCullough's John Adams. McCullough clearly sees love in Abigail's letters to John and John Quincy. Nagel's picture is more one of a controlling wife and mother. My guess is the truth is somewhere in the middle, but still, I was surprised by the difference.

Editado: Jun 13, 2009, 1:28pm

A different, very unflattering picture of Abigail Adams is also presented in The Hemingses of Monticello. When Sally Hemings was only 14 (IIRC), she was separated from her family at Monticello and sent across the Atlantic with Jefferson's daughter to stay with the Adams' family in England temporarily. Abigail was very friendly and motherly toward Jefferson's daughter and sympathetic to her ordeal from the cross-country trip, but was very harsh toward Sally Hemings, who was just a couple of years older than the daughter and who had been on the same harrowing trip. Abigail Adams was so unsympathetic to her she even suggested to Jefferson that he send Sally right back to America because she would be of no use to him. Obviously, we have come a long way with race since that time, but Abigail was definitely presented as a cold, unfriendly character toward Sally Hemings, who was not used to travel like that (never having even left Monticello), not used to being away from her family, and already expected to be an adult to take care of Jefferson's child when she was just a child herself.

I read this book before I read John Adams, so I think it definitely colored my view of that book, since McCullough seemed pretty uncritical of her racial views. IIRC, at one point, he tells the story of Abigail comparing a black "servant" to an animal or beast, and then just moves onto the next story without providing any analysis or criticism of her.

What struck me also is, in the Hemingses of Monticello, slaves are actually referred to as slaves, but in all the other books I have read (Ellis, McCullough, Fischer), they are referred to as "servants." Annette Gordon-Reed really gets into this idea of how Jefferson referred to his slaves as "servants" to assuage his feelings of guilt and even deceive the French authorities, so I thought it was interesting that the term "servant" also seems to be used by all the historians. I realize that their objective is different from Gordon-Reed's in that slavery is not their main topic, but I think calling them "servants" does kind of whitewash the fact that they are really slaves being held against their will by their white masters who also happen to become POTUS.

Jun 15, 2009, 10:08am

How old was Hemings when the relationship with Jefferson changed course?

Jun 15, 2009, 3:25pm

In the book, Gordon-Reed says we can't know definitively when the relationship changed but she goes onto speculate (using the memoirs of Madison Hemings, Sally's youngest son, as her source) that Sally first became Jefferson's "concubine" in France and that Sally was pregnant with her first child when she and Jefferson left France to return to Monticello. I believe that she would have been 16 or 17 at that time. According to the author, the age difference wouldn't have been that unusual for that time period.

Jun 16, 2009, 8:21pm

Dear cyderry--For your research for the losers you might want to check out the book "Presidential Campaigns" by Paul F. Boller, Jr. The book in my library just goes thru 1976 and discusses every election cycle. I found it very interesting and informative.

Ago 29, 2009, 3:53pm

We're all doing great, we've crossed the 100 bio mark with only 2700 more to go!

Editado: Nov 24, 2009, 12:13pm

For anyone interested in the history of the holidays at the White House, here's a link. I myself starting collecting the White House ornaments in 1993.

Dez 15, 2009, 3:42pm

Can you believe it - after a year we are 70 strong searching for the facts about our presidents!

You all are making this so much fun and so interesting. It's like a giant group read and they aren't even the same books all the time!

Editado: Dez 15, 2009, 6:23pm

Yep! I'm lovin' it too.
Kudos to you for getting the challenge started.
Wouldn't it be fun to stage a "conference" somewhere in the lower 48 as we near the end of the challenge so that we could meet each other and continue some of the banter over a glass of champagne, some brandade, a roasted game hen and a pear compote. Heck, if we had to have green, we could toss in a butter lettuce salad.
Happy holidays everyone.

Dez 15, 2009, 6:35pm

I'm loving it too, and would never have done it without the group. Kudos!

Dez 17, 2009, 12:35am

This is a great group and a terrific challenge. Thanks for starting this, Cheli.

I have done very little presidential reading in recent months and hope to remedy that in 2010. My goal, next year, is to read Monroe through Buchanan (5 through 15) and then, the year after that, to focus on Lincoln and the Civil War. Maybe get down to Springfield, IL.

Fev 13, 2010, 7:17pm

I don't know if anyone's interested, but C-Span2 is going to be showing their program Book-TV all day Monday (2/15) with authors of books about the presidents.

The complete schedule is here

It looks like it starts at 8:30 am.

Fev 16, 2010, 6:29pm

Damn, I missed it.

Fev 24, 2010, 11:04pm

Welcome to all the new members of the group. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Fev 25, 2010, 6:33pm

Hi everybody, I joined the challenge last year, and have only read two so far. I decided I would read a bunch more this year, and decided to go back and start in order - I thought I would get a lot more out of the challenge that way.
Anyway, I picked up The Ascent of George Washington by John Ferling because it looked interesting and then I sae, aha, no one in this challenge had read it yet (published in 2009).
Well, I started reading it last night, and in the preface it said, "This book is not a biography. It has little to say about Washington's relationship with his wife and stepchildren, his amusements, or the conditions faced by his slaves, to name just a few things that a biographer would wish to explore. I have focused specifically on matters that somehow or other involved Washington in political activities." I thought, "Oh nooooooo - this won't count for the US Presidents Challenge", but I'm going to read it anyway because it's GOOD. And I came back to this read, re-read it and breathed a sign of relief.
So, sorry for the long message, and thanks for being so inclusive!

Fev 25, 2010, 10:27pm

#68 - I'm not sure you'd find a bio of Washington that dealt much with his relationship with his wife & stepchildren or his amusements, because after his death, most of his letters were destroyed, and there just aren't a lot of other sources for those things. I read His Excellency and it seems like it had a similar disclaimer - it dealt with his military career and then his political career, not a lot about his family or other relationships.

Fev 26, 2010, 2:07pm

>69 ShanM816: - I didn't know that, I just assumed there was more out there. Am really enjoying the Ferling biography so far. There's a lot I didn't know.

Fev 27, 2010, 11:39pm


If this book gives you the information that you want to find out about George, then it counts. As long as it is not fictional, it can have as little or as much information as you care for. So if finding out about his political activities satisfies you as learning what you want to know, you've finished George!

Mar 2, 2010, 3:13pm

Just a couple of thoughts on the "why I read history" question. . . I love literature in almost any form, discovered very early in my reading. History was okay, but sort of nebulous. Then at some point in early high school, I made the mental connection (duh!) between what was happening in history and what I reading by authors in various periods of time. To know the political climate of Elizabethan England is to understand those authors and to get a better handle on the explorers and conquering nations.

I discovered that a lot of historical people and time are simply fascinating reads--Alexander or Peter the Great. There's the question of which is a "truer" Joan d'Arc--Anouilh's The Lark or Shakespeare's Henry VI? Is Teddy Roosevelt better revealed in his own words or in The Wind and the Lion?

As for the US Presidents, being related (however distantly) almost begs the question, but mostly I want to know how we got to where we are today.

And that's my soapbox!

Editado: Maio 7, 2010, 4:21pm

Don't know where else to post this, so I am doing it in here.

I have found several Presidential biographies books on line. Some I have read, all I have downloaded to my Kindle, and will read eventually. Here is a list of them, in no particular order, and where they can be downloaded for free:

James A. Garfield:
From Canal Boy to President: Or the Boyhood and Manhood of James A. Garfield by Horatio Alger Jr (have not read yet)

James Madison:
James Madison by Sydney Howard Gay read 1-21-2010

Rutherford B. Hayes:
The Life, Public Services and Select Speeches of Rutherford B. Hayes by James Quay Howard (have not read yet)

Abraham Lincoln:
The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Henry Ketcham (have not read yet)
Abraham Lincoln: A History, Volume 1 by John G. Nicolay and John Hay (have not read yet)
Abraham Lincoln: A History, Volume 2 by John G. Nicolay and John Hay (have not read yet)

Theodore Roosevelt:
Rough Riders by Theodore Roosevelt (have not read yet)
Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt (have not read yet)
There a many other books on both and that were written by him. These are the ones that I have.

John Quincy Adams:
John Quincy Adams: American Statesmen Series by John T. Morse, Jr (finished 2-3-2010)
Life and Public Services of John Quincy Adams: Sixth President of the United States by William H. Seward(have not read yet)

Woodrow Wilson:
Woodrow Wilson and the World War: A Chronicle of Our Own Times by Charles Seymour (have not read yet)

Those are all the ebooks downloadable for free on Presidents I have found so far, there may be others out there. I will post them if I find them.

Hope this may help someone.

Bill Masom

Editado: Maio 7, 2010, 6:55pm

Found some more. I have not read any of these. They are listed as a reference in case your having trouble finding a book on a particular president.

These were found on But they should also be on

Again, in no particular order.

Herber C. Hoover
Herbert C Hoover: The Man and His Work by Vernon Kellogg

Woodrow Wilson:
Woodrow Wilson As I Know Him by Joseph P. Tumulty

Ulysses S Grant:
The Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant by Ulysses S Grant

Andrew Jackson:
The Reign of Andrew Jackson by Frederic Austin Ogg

Also on both sites, if you search for the presidents last name, you will find most have public papers, letters and addresses on there, as well as most have their State of the Union Addresses on there. So if one peaked your interest, you should able to find the whole address on that site.

Again, hope this helps someone out there.

Bill Masom

Maio 7, 2010, 7:36pm

Bill...thanks so much for posting these valuable resources. I think they will be especially helpful in future times as more of us become comfortable for the "e" format...

Maio 8, 2010, 10:31am

I agree. And Bill, here's to another avid Kindle user!!!

Maio 12, 2010, 4:52pm

#75 tututhefirst

Remember that these are not just Kindle editions. They are in many different formats including; .txt, .pdf, mobi, epub, ect. And if they are from or, they are free. There are many different readers and ways to read them. Most books on and can be read online, from the site.

#76 auntmarge64

Yep, love my Kindle. I spent a year and a half over seas, and was able to carry a whole library with me in my pocket. That was SWEEEEEEEEET! If I wanted to buy a book, I just did it on the computer, and downloaded it manually to the Kindle. And of course, I have many free books from the sites listed above, not a few free ones from itself. I think I may be taking another trip over there soon, so I am loading up the Kindle.


Here are some more FREE ebooks I found, these are in the Kindle format, from Amazon. As I am unemployed at this time, free is just the right price to pay for a book. And if they are free on Amazon, they are probably free somewhere else, and in another format, I just have not found them, but I would be surprised if you can't find them somewhere for free in a different format.

George Washington:
George Washington by William Roscoe Thayer

Thomas Jefferson:
Thomas Jefferson: A Character Sketch by Edward S. (Sylvester) Ellis

Abraham Lincoln:
The Every-day Life of Abraham Lincoln A Narrative And Descriptive Biography With Pen-Pictures And Personal Recollections By Those Who Knew Him by Francis F. (Francis Fisher) Browne
Abraham Lincoln and the Union: A Chronicle of the Embattled North by Nathaniel W. Stephenson

Anyway, those are what I found today, don't know what I will dig up tomorrow.

Bill Masom

Maio 24, 2010, 12:43pm

I've heard alot of people who are part of this challenge saying that they don't feel like they will be able to finish in the timeframe (end of Obama's term) so I'm wondering how everyone feels about changing to a double term (whether Obama is re-elected or not).

Votar: Are you okay with extending to 2016 and finishing with the current President of that time?

Resultado actual: Sim 17, Não 0

Maio 24, 2010, 5:01pm

#78 I never had any intention of stopping in Nov 2012 if I hadn't finished the challenge, I'm glad to see that it appears the group won't be abandoning me, since it's pretty certain I won't be done by then. In fact, I kind of think of this as a life-time challenge.

Maio 24, 2010, 7:53pm

I agree with Sandy, I intend to finish this challenge, but have been viewing this as a lifetime challenge. I know i won't do more than 4-5 a year.

Maio 28, 2010, 2:52pm

Okay, we are going to extend to 2016 at least.

**Whew...I'm glad about that, now I won't have to rush.**

Maio 29, 2010, 12:10pm

I'm with Sandy and the others. I plan to continue, regardless of when I finish. There are some presidents, Lincoln, FDR, where I may spend a year reading about only that president. Along with my other reading, of course.

Jul 31, 2010, 4:15pm

I realize that it is very difficult given our topics to avoid political discussion altogether so I have a suggestion to make and would like others opinion on it.

When we write a review frequently you will see a SPOILER ALERT. Do you think that we could possible put a POLITICAL ALERT when we move into the area of politics especially for the more recent inhabitants of the office? I have my opinions on the more recent Presidents and I'm sure that you do too but I don't think that we want this challenge to turn into a political debate, so...let's take a vote and be democratic about it.

Votar: Should POLITICAL ALERTS be used.

Resultado actual: Sim 6, Não 4

Ago 9, 2010, 1:37pm

For those readers that are comfortable with, or have E-Reader type devices, I have found a treasure trove of books!

I have downloaded more than a few president biographies from there. Plus a bunch of other books (Exploration, Arctic and Antarctic, ext) from there. Books I would never have the opportunity to read other wise.

Here are the books I found and downloaded today:

Martin Van Buren by Edward M. Shepard (Ebook)
The Life of Major General Zachary Taylor, Twelfth President of the United States by Henry Montgomery (Ebook)
The Life and Times of William Henry Harrison by S. J. Burr (Ebook)
And Tyler Too: A Biography of John and Julia Gardiner Tyler by Robert Seager II (Ebook)

If you are like me, broke, and your local library is also broke (i.e. doesn't offer a lot of books) then this might be the next best thing since the printing press.

One warning: Not all the books display correctly when downloaded to your reader. But, there are usually several electronic copies available, and by comparing the different copies, you will most likely find a “readable” edition.

Hope that this helps someone out there. I check the usual spots for downloadable ebooks first;,,, but I am finding that has way more books out there to download. Again, you just might have to search a bit to find a “readable” download.

Happy downloading, and happier reading!

Bill Masom

Ago 10, 2010, 12:06am

Good to know Bill, thanks!

Ago 10, 2010, 12:06am

Good to know Bill, thanks!

Nov 30, 2010, 1:09pm

I just stumbled on this group while searching for a Bio of WH Harrison (11/30/2010 is today's date). I took on this challenge back in May and decided to do it in order, I am currently reading a Jackson bio.

I am trying to find bios that are 400-700 pages, take a very non-political or middle of the road point of view and focus more on the individuals impact on the nation through his (and maybe by the time on done her) impact on the nation before, during and after his presidency, rather than focusing on the personal life. I found the Adams Father and Son to be the most compelling figures thus far. Jefferson I have found to be the most overrated and Monroe the most underrated, but I have only finished 6.

I look forward to using this group as a great resource, thanks.

Nov 30, 2010, 2:01pm

Some of the individual threads may be able to give you a suggestion for a book that meets your criteria. I, personally, am currently up to Lincoln (I'm reading in order too) and found along the way some absolutely fascinating books for some of the little known presidents.

Editado: Fev 7, 2013, 1:33pm

Just discovered a wonderful ancillary work about 13 different presidents--- the Forgotten Presidents: heir Untold Constitutional Legacy by Michael J. Gerhardt