44 Presidents and Their Definitive Biographies

Posted by on 1:29 pm in Learn | 14 comments

44 Presidents and Their Definitive Biographies

Remember when I said that you should read good writers in order to become a better writer? In honor of President’s Day, a friend of mine on Facebook offered a Presidential Challenge – read the definitive biography of every United States president in order.

He said it took him years. He also said it was a great way to understand America’s history, shifts, progress, and evolution.

I’m a big fan of biographies for the glimpses of a different era and insights into varying industries and cultures they give you. So, while I’m sure it will take me several years to finish this quest, I am going to take this challenge and read a biography of every American president in sequential order.

Here’s the List:

Washington: A Life

John Adams

Thomas Jefferson - The Art of Power

James Madison

James Monroe

John Quincy Adams

Andrew Jackson

The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Clay, and Calhoun

Martin Van Buren

Old Tippecanoe: Harrison

John Tyler

James K. Polk

Zachary Taylor

Millard Fillmore

Franklin Pierce

James Buchanan

Abraham Lincoln: Team of Rivals

Andrew Johnson

Ulysses S. Grant

Rutherford B. Hayes

James Garfield

Chester Alan Arthur

Grover Cleveland

To the Loss of the Presidency (Grover Cleveland A Study in Courage, Vol. 1)

To the End of a Career (Grover Cleveland A Study in Courage, Vol. 2)

Benjamin Harrison

William McKinley

Theodore Roosevelt

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Rex

Colonel Roosevelt

William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft: The Life and Times (Vol. 1)

William Howard Taft: The Life and Times (Vol. 2)

Woodrow Wilson

William G. Harding

Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover


Harry S. Truman

Dwight D. Eisenhower


Lyndon B. Johnson

The Path to Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Book One)

Means of Ascent (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Book Two)

Master of the Senate (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Book Three)

The Passage of Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Book Four)

Richard Nixon

The graphic has Volumes 1 & 2 switched, here is the correct order:

Nixon: The Education of a Politician (1913-1962)

Nixon: The Triumph of a Politician (1962-1972)

Nixon: Ruin and Recovery (1973-1990)

Jimmy Carter

Gerald Ford

Ronald Reagan

George H.W. Bush

Bill Clinton

It may be too soon to name any one George W. Bush biography THE definitive biography. The same can obviously be said for President Obama. Wikipedia has a great list of books about George W. Bush as well as a list of books about Barack Obama. Once I get that far there may be a widely accepted “definitive” bio for each, but until then I plan on choosing one of each from these lists. If you have any recommendations leave them in the comments.

Happy President’s Day and happy reading!