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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?
"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."
MY REPLY WAS:
"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?
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).
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is pretty cool... watch the eyes.
I may look at that video to select the next biography, and just see who grabs me - with those eyes!
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.
Learn about White House Pets
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!
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The complete schedule is here
It looks like it starts at 8:30 am.
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!
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!
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!
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 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)
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)
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 Manybooks.net and gutenberg.org 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 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.
These were found on manybooks.net. But they should also be on gutenberg.org
Again, in no particular order.
Herber C. Hoover
Herbert C Hoover: The Man and His Work by Vernon Kellogg
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
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.
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 Manybooks.net or gutenberg.org, they are free. There are many different readers and ways to read them. Most books on gutenberg.org and manybooks.net can be read online, from the site.
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 Amazon.com 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 by William Roscoe Thayer
Thomas Jefferson: A Character Sketch by Edward S. (Sylvester) Ellis
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.
Votar: Are you okay with extending to 2016 and finishing with the current President of that time?
**Whew...I'm glad about that, now I won't have to rush.**
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.
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; gutenberg.org, manybooks.net, freekindlebooks.org, but I am finding that archive.org 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!
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.