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So far, I've been dabbling. I keep aiming to read sooner, rather than later, about the presidents who are most interesting to me, such as FDR.
However, I feel like I'm missing out on much of the fun by not reading in order. I think I certainly would learn more that way.
I think it makes it easier to understand what happened.
I'm allowing myself to move on after only one book, but I have typically read more than one. I think 3 each for Washington and Jefferson, and 2 for Adams. But then I added Inventing a Nation by Gore Vidal, which included "bio's" of all 3 men.
I have to admit, though, to being anxious to read some of the new biographies when they come out, but am forcing myself to wait until I get there, when I think I'll appreciate them more.
I want to be able to read the first 20 right this minute and I can't do it!
I want to find out about those obscure presidents like Tyler ad Fillmore as an example but I also want to know about Jackson and Pierce. I want to do Lincoln NOW!
** she shakes her head and keeps repeating her mantra .... patience is a virtue... patience is a virtue...patience is a virtue.... SIGH **
I think I will try to read in order, after all. I think that's the optimal way.
However, I'd promised myself to read a book about FDR's first 100 days in office before Obama reached his first 100 days in office so I will still do that.
Also still plan to read the book about presidential travel and also the one about post-presidencies (for the 999 challenge).
I've read a lot of history in my past, specifically U.S. history, so bouncing around is not as crazy as it may seem--and some of the biographies of the "lesser" presidents have put some events and people back in order for me.
Also, with the exception of George H.W. Bush, I've been avoiding some of the more contemporary (okay presidents of my lifetime) because I have very mixed feelings about several of them, and want to get a better grounding in what situations they came into before I read about them.
I have to admit as well, that this approach is supported by my reading off the 1001 Must Read list, where I found my English Literature background seemed to be woefully lacking with "classics" from long ago. I tried to read those in order, and got totally bogged down. Now, I find if I read some in order, some recent, some older, that I enjoy all of them much more.
Oh well--you know there's one in every bunch!
I, too, have very strong views on the presidents during my adulthood, and some distance from them would likely be best for me.
I am leaning toward doing this "in order" after all but do plan to read a few other presidential-related books, as well, out of order.
In fact, one upcoming book, I think, needs to be a detailed analysis of the election of 1800. I think there are at least two such books out there, one by Larson, I believe.
I've read quite a bit about the Revolutionary War era but it was definitely a good idea to get a bit of a refresher course as I hadn't read anything on this topic in quite a long time.
I always find it reassuring to get a refresher on something and discover that I really had retained quite a bit - hopefully that was your experience this time. Are you planning on another Washington, or are you getting ready to move on to Adams next? Or maybe someone else instead?
And back on topic, to me, reading in order makes the most sense, because my grasp of US history is pretty shaky.
I was thinking, as you mentioned, that reading the McCullough bio of Adams and then a Jefferson bio would balance things out but I am aware of two books on the 1800 election. Both well-regarded, both on LT and on amazon, at least. (Both are on Kindle, too.)
One is: A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign by Edward J. Larson. I think Cheli read this one.
The other is: Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 by John Ferling.
I am leaning towards the Ferling book, possibly.
I'm just finishing LBJ now and I'm glad I chose this approach. It has definitely been a good way to meet some of the non- president influential personages like Gouveneur Morris, Fernando Wood, Henry Clay, Thaddeus Stevens and Robert Taft. I can't think of any other way I would have been made aware of their contributions and where those contributions fit into the tapestry.
And if you figure out why the USA ticks as it does, you'll let us know, right? :)
All we have to do (can you see my tongue pushing my cheek out) is plug in some Carter tolerance, some Obama intelligence, some JQA sense of right, some Garfield honesty, hold fast to the Monroe doctrine and back off pushing the muzzles of our weapons into the business of the rest of the world and I think we'll be OK.