Reading On The American Presidents

When available and relevant I have included books on Vice Presidents and First Ladies

If you’re interested in reading a good series of books on the Presidents The American Presidents Series, edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. is a great series each written by a notable historian. The only volume that has not yet been published in one on William Howard Taft. Most are available in both Print and in Kindle Text to Speech format.

This list ends with President Ford. The Presidents that came later are important to history but it is still unfolding history. We are blessed that President Carter is still alive and the memory of President Reagan is still with us. Many of the issues they struggled with are issues we still struggle with today.


Items listed in Bold are highly recommended





  • Primary Sources related to George Washington
  • Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
  • His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis
  • George Washington: 4 Volume Set by James Thomas Flexner
    (A very long read but very good) 
  • Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner
    (one volume version of Flexner’s four volume work)
  • George Washington by James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn (American Presidents Series)
  • George Washington: Writings (Library of America)
  • George Washington on Leadership By Richard Brookhiser
  • General George Washington: A Military Life By Edward G. Lengel
  • The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon By John Ferling
  • George Washington: A Biography By John R. Alden
  • An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America By Henry Wiencek
  • Mr. President’: George Washington and the Making of the Nation’s Highest Office By Harlow Giles Unger
  • Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady


  • John Adams by David McCullough
  • First Family: Abigail and John Adams by Joseph J. Ellis
  • Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams by Joseph J. Ellis
  • John Adams by John Patrick Diggins (American Presidents Series)
  • John Adams: A Life by John Ferling
  • John Adams (2 vols) by Page Smith
  • John Adams: Revolutionary Writings, 1755-1775 (Library of America)
  • John Adams: Revolutionary Writings 1775-1783 (Library of America)
  • The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams 
    Lester J. Cappon
  • Abigail Adams by Woody Holton


  • Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
  • Thomas Jefferson by R. B. Bernstein
  • Thomas Jefferson by Joyce Appleby (American Presidents Series)
  • American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis
  • Thomas Jefferson: A Life by Willard Sterne Randall
  • Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation by John Ferling
  • Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 by John Ferling
  • Jefferson and His Time (Six Volumes) by Dumas Malone
  • Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson by Alan Pell Crawford
  • Thomas Jefferson: Writings: (Library of America)
  • Thomas Jefferson: Writings : Autobiography / Notes on the State of Virginia / Public and Private Papers / Addresses / Letters
  • The Deadlocked Election of 1800: Jefferson, Burr, and the Union in the Balance by James Roger Sharp
  • American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America by David O. Stewart
  • Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg
  • George Clinton: Master Builder of the Empire State by John Lee
  • Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times by Cynthia A. Kierner


  • James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation By Jeff Broadwater
  • James Madison By Richard Brookhiser
  • James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights By Richard Labunski
  • James Madison by Garry Wills (American Presidents Series)
  • James Madison and the Making of America By Kevin R. C. Gutzman
  • A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation By Catherine Allgor
  • James Madison: The Founding Father By Robert A. Rutland
  • The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict By Donald R Hickey
  • James Madison: Writings: 1772-1836 (Library of America)
  • Elbridge Gerry, founding father and republican statesman by George Athan Billias 


  • The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness By Harlow Giles Unger
  • James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity by Harry Ammon
  • James Monroe by Arthur M. Jr. Schlesinger and Gary Hart (American Presidents Series)
  • The Presidency of James Monroe by Noble Cunningham Jr.



  • Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times By H.W. Brands
  • American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House By Jon Meacham
  • Driven West: Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears to the Civil War By A. J. Langguth
  • Patriotic Fire: Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite at the Battle of New Orleans By Winston Groom
  • The Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828 By Lynn Hudson Parson
  • Andrew Jackson By Robert V. Remini
  • Andrew Jackson Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr and Sean Wilentz (American Presidents Series)
  • Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation By John Ehle
  • Old Hickory’s War: Andrew Jackson and the Quest for Empire by David Stephen Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler
  • The Long, Bitter Trail: Andrew Jackson and the Indians by Anthony F. C. Wallace
  • A Being So Gentle: The Frontier Love Story of Rachel and Andrew Jackson by Patricia Brady


  • Martin Van Buren by Ted Widmer (American Presidents Series)
  • Martin Van Buren : The Romantic Age of American Politics by John Niven and Katherine Speirs
  • Martin Van Buren and the American Political System by Donald B. Cole
  • Martin Van Buren by Ted Widmer (American Presidents Series)
  • Martin Van Buren and the Emergence of American Popular Politics by Joel H. Silbey
  • The Autobiography of Martin Van Buren – Click Here To Read Text


  • William Henry Harrison by Gail Collins (American Presidents Series)
  • Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time by Freeman Cleaves
  • Mr. Jefferson’s Hammer: William Henry Harrison and the Origins of American Indian Policy by Robert M. Owens
  • William Henry Harrison and the Conquest of the Ohio Country by David Curtis Skaggs
  • A Child of the Revolution: William Henry Harrison and His World , 1773-1798 by Hendrik Booraem
  • The Gods of Prophetstown: The Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier by Adam Jortner
  • The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler by Norma Lois Peterson
  • Mr. Jefferson’s Hammer: William Henry Harrison and the Origins of American Indian Policy by Robert M. Owens 


  • John Tyler: Champion of the Old South by Oliver P. Chitwood
  • John Tyler Gary May (American Presidents Series)
  • John Tyler, the Accidental President by Edward P. Crapol
  • The Republican Vision of John Tyler by R. Daniel Monroe
  • A Whig Embattled: The Presidency Under John Tyler by Robert J. Morgan
  • The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler by Norma Lois Peterson 


  • A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent By Robert W. Merry
  • James K. Polk by John Seigenthaler (American Presidents Series)
  • Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America by Walter R. Borneman
  • The Presidency of James K. Polk by Paul H. Bergeron
  • Slavemaster President: The Double Career of James Polk by William Dusinberre
  • James K. Polk: A Clear and Unquestionable Destiny by Thomas M. Leonard
  • James K. Polk and the Expansionist Impulse by Sam W. Haynes
  • The Diplomacy of Annexation: Texas, Oregon, and the Mexican War by David M. Pletcher
  • George Mifflin Dallas: Jacksonian Patrician by John M. Belohlavek
  • Sarah Childress Polk: A Biography of the Remarkable First Lady by John Bumgarner


  • Zachary Taylor : Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest by K. Jack Bauer
  • Zachary Taylor by John S. D. Eisenhower (American Presidents Series)
  • Zachary Taylor (2 volumes) by Holman Hamilton
  • Party over Section: The Rough and Ready Presidential Election of 1848 by Joel H. Silbey
  • The Presidencies of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore by Elbert B. Smith
  • Zachary Taylor : Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest by K. Jack Bauer


  • The Presidencies of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore by Elbert B. Smith
  • Millard Fillmore by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (American Presidents Series)
  • The Remarkable Millard Fillmore: The Unbelievable Life of a Forgotten President by George Pendle
  • Millard Fillmore by Robert J. Scarry


  • Franklin Pierce by Michael F. Holt (American Presidents Series)
  • Franklin Pierce (2 volumes) by Peter Wallner
  • Franklin Pierce: Young Hickory of the Granite Hills by Roy Nichols
  • Jane Means Appleton Pierce: U.S. First Lady (1853-1857): Her Family, Life and Times by Ann Covell


  • James Buchanan and the Coming of the Civil War by John Quist and Michael J. Birkner
  • James Buchanan by Jean H. Baker (American Presidents Series)
  • President James Buchanan: A Biography by Philip S. Klein
  • Harriet Lane, America’s First Lady by Milton Stern
  • Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of Rebellion by James Buchanan
  • The Autobiography of James Buchanan – Click Here To Read Book


  • Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and The War Years By Carl Sandburg
    (there are more recent biographies of Lincoln, but none make you feel like you know Lincoln like Sandburg does)
  • Abraham Lincoln: (2 volumes) by Michael Burlingame
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln By Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President By Allen C. Guelzo
  • Abraham Lincoln by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr, Sean Wilentz and George S. McGovern (American Presidents Series)
  • The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery By Eric Foner
  • Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President By Harold Holzer
  • Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln By Abraham Lincoln
  • A. Lincoln: A Biography By Ronald C. White, Jr.
  • Lincoln By David Herbert Donald
  • Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year By David Von Drehle
  • Congressman Lincoln By Chris DeRose
  • The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage by Daniel Mark Epstein
  • Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk
  • Lincoln’s Battle with God: A President’s Struggle with Faith and What It Meant for America by Stephen Mansfield
  • Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861 by Harold Holzer 
  • Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography by Jean Harvey Baker
  • Hannibal Hamlin of Maine: Lincoln’s First Vice-President by H. Draper Hunt


  • Andrew Johnson: A Biography by Hans L. Trefousse
  • Andrew Johnson by Annette Gordon-Reed (American Presidents Series)
  • The Avenger Takes His Place: Andrew Johnson and the 45 Days That Changed the Nation by Howard Means
  • Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction by Eric L. McKitrick
  • Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy by David O. Stewart



  • Rutherford B. Hayes by Hans Trefousse (American Presidents Series)
  • Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior and President by Ari Hoogenboom
  • Fraud of the Century: Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Stolen Election of 1876 by Roy Jr. Morris


  • Dark Horse: the Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield by Kenneth D. Ackerman
  • Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard
  • Garfield by Allan Peskin
  • Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield by Kenneth D. Ackerman
  • James A. Garfield by Ira Rutkow (American Presidents Series)






  • Theodore Roosevelt (3 volumes) by Edmund Morris
  • The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley
  • The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Theodore Roosevelt by Louis Auchincloss (American Presidents Series)
  • Theodore Roosevelt: Letters and Speeches (Library of America) by Theodore Roosevelt
  • Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin: Madness, Vengeance, and the Campaign of 1912 by Gerard Helferich
  • Never Call Retreat: Theodore Roosevelt and the Great War by J. Lee Thompson
  • Heir to the Empire City: New York and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt by Edward P. Kohn
  • The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt by John Milton Cooper Jr.
  • Velvet on Iron: The Diplomacy of Theodore Roosevelt by Frederick W. Marks III
  • Edith Kermit Roosevelt: Portrait of a First Lady by Sylvia Morris
  • Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker by Stacy A. Cordery
  • Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth by Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer
  • Theodore Roosevelt: The Rough Riders by Theodore Roosevelt and Louis Auchincloss
  • Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography – Click Here To Read Book
  • Theodore Roosevelt was a prolific writer with many published books to his credit. 



  • Wilson by A. Scott Berg
  • Woodrow Wilson: A Biography by John Milton Cooper Jr.
  • Woodrow Wilson by H. W. Brands (American Presidents Series)
  • Woodrow Wilson: The Essential Political Writings by Ronald J. Pestritto
  • Reconsidering Woodrow Wilson: Progressivism, Internationalism, War, and Peace by John Milton Cooper Jr.
  • The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt by John Milton Cooper Jr.
  • To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order by Thomas J. Knock
  • My Memoir by Edith Wilson
  • Congressional Government by Woodrow Wilson


  • Warren G. Harding by John W. Dean (American Presidents Series)
  • The Harding Affair: Love and Espionage during the Great War by James David Robenalt
  • The Strange Deaths of President Harding by Robert H. Ferrell
  • The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country by Laton Mccartney



  • Herbert Hoover by William E. Leuchtenburg (American Presidents Series)
  • Herbert Hoover in the White House: The Ordeal of the Presidency by Charles Rappleye
  • The Life of Herbert Hoover by Glen Jeansonne
  • An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover by Richard Norton Smith
  • The Life of Herbert Hoover: Part 1 – The Engineer 1874-1914 by George H. Nash
  • The Life of Herbert Hoover: Part 2 – The Humanitarian, 1914-1917 by George H. Nash
  • The Life of Herbert Hoover: Part 3 – Master of Emergencies, 1917-1918 by George H. Nash
  • The Life of Herbert Hoover: Part 4 – Imperfect Visionary, 1918-1928 by Kendrick A. Clements
  • The Life of Herbert Hoover: Part 5 – Fighting Quaker, 1928-1933 by Glen Jeansonne
  • The Life of Herbert Hoover: Part 6 – Keeper of the Torch, 1933-1964 by Gary Dean Best
  • The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover
    Published in three volumes: Volume 1: Years of Adventure 1874-1920; Volume 2: The Cabinet and the Presidency 1920-1933; Volume 3: The Great Depression 1929-1941.
  • The Memoirs and a Papers of Herbert Hoover – Click Here To Read Materials


  • FDR – by Jean Edward Smith
  • No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War by David Kaiser
  • Roosevelt’s Second Act – by Richard Moe
  • FDR and the Jews by Richard Breitman
  • Those Angry Days – by Lynne Olson
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Roy Jenkins (American Presidents Series)
  • The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941-1942 by Nigel Hamilton
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945 by Robert Dallek
  • Politics as Usual: Thomas Dewey, Franklin Roosevelt, and the Wartime Presidential campaign of 1944 by Michael A. Davis
  • Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by H.W. Brands
  • Eleanor and Franklin by Joseph P. Lash
  • Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume I, 1884-1933 by Blanche Wiesen Cook
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume II, The Defining Years, 1933-1938 Blanche Wiesen Cook
  • No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II – By Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Eleanor: The Years Alone by Joseph P. Lash
  • This is My Story by Eleanor Roosevelt
  • This I Remember by Eleanor Roosevelt
  • On My Own by Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth by Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer



  • Dwight D. Eisenhower by Tom Wicker (American Presidents Series)
  • Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith
  • The Supreme Commander: The War Years of Dwight D. Eisenhower by Stephen E. Ambrose
  • Eisenhower: Soldier and President by Stephen E. Ambrose
  • Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World by Evan Thomas
  • The President and the Apprentice: Eisenhower and Nixon, 1952-1961 by Irwin F. Gellman
  • Mrs. Ike by Susan Eisenhower
  • Mamie Doud Eisenhower: The General’s First Lady by Marilyn Irvin Holt
  • At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends by Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Crusade in Europe by Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • The Eisenhower Diaries published by W W Norton & Co Inc


  • An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 by Robert Dallek
  • John F. Kennedy by Alan Brinkley (American Presidents Series)
  • A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
  • Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House by Robert Dallek
  • The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy by Larry J. Sabato
  • JFK in the Senate: Pathway to the Presidency by John T. Shaw
  • Mrs. Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years by Barbara Leaming
  • America’s Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Sarah Bradford
  • Prelude to Leadership: The European Diary of John F. Kennedy: Summer 1945
  • The Letters of John F. Kennedy


  • The Triumph & Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: The White House Years by Joseph A. Califano
  • The Years of Lyndon Johnson (6 volumes – in progress) by Robert Caro
  • Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President by Robert Dallek
  • Lyndon B. Johnson by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr, Sean Wilentz and Charles Peters (American Presidents Series)
  • Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society by Julian E. Zelizer
  • Lady Bird Johnson: An Oral History by Michael L. Gillette
  • Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson by Jan Jarboe Russell
  • Hubert Humphrey: A Biography by Carl Solberg
  • A White House Diary – Lady Bird Johnson
  • The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963-1969 by Lyndon B. Johnson


  • Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full by Conrad Black
  • Nixon (3 volumes) by Stephen E. Ambrose
  • One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon by Tim Weiner
  • Nixon: A Life by Jonathan Aitken
  • Richard M. Nixon by Arthur M. Schlesinger and Elizabeth Drew (American Presidents Series)
  • The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon by Stanley I. Kutler
  • Being Nixon: A Portrait in Shadow and Light by Evan Thomas
  • Being Nixon: A Man Divided by Evan Thomas
  • President Nixon: Alone in the White House by Richard Reeves
  • Pat and Dick: The Nixons, An Intimate Portrait of a Marriage by Will Swift
  • Very Strange Bedfellows: The Short and Unhappy Marriage of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew by Jules Witcover
  • The Rise of Spiro Agnew by Jules Witcover
  • RN – The Memoirs of Richard Nixon by Richard Nixon
  • In the Arena: A Memoir of Victory, Defeat, and Renewal by Richard Nixon
  • Six Crises by Richard Nixon
  • Richard Nixon: Speeches, Writings, Documents published by Princeton University Press


  • Gerald R. Ford:An Honorable Life by James Cannon
  • Ambition, Pragmatism, and Party: A Political Biography of Gerald R. Ford by Scott Kaufman
  • Gerald R. Ford by Douglas Brinkley (American Presidents Series)
  • Extraordinary Circumstances: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford by David Hume Kennerly and Richard Norton Smith
  • 895 Days that Changed the World: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford by Graeme S. Mount
  • 31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today by Barry Werth
  • On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith
  • Betty Ford: Candor and Courage in the White House by John Robert Greene
  • A Time To Heal by Gerald Ford
  • The Times of My Life by Betty Ford