If it’s Christmas Eve…it must be time for another anniversary post!
Four years ago I began reading the first book in James Flexner’s four-volume series on George Washington. Since then I’ve navigated 169 biographies covering the first 34 presidents. And thanks to this site I have met an enormous number of people who share the same passion for excellent presidential biographies!
2016 Highlights and Observations:
* 31 presidential biographies read (~18,000 pages) covering 5 presidents: from Calvin Coolidge to Dwight Eisenhower. My favorite biographies were “FDR” by Jean Edward Smith and “Truman” by David McCullough.
My quick take on this year’s presidents:
Coolidge: about what I expected (but where have people like him gone?)
Hoover: a dull president but an extraordinarily fascinating life
FDR: truly captivating…but also exhausting
Truman: fine, but thank you David McCullough!
Dwight Eisenhower: too early to call
* A profile in The Washington Post. After reading this February article my neighbors finally understand why the UPS driver is constantly stopping at my house to deliver more books. And I had the pleasure of seeing a convenience store cashier’s jaw nearly hit the floor when I tried to purchase every one of their two-dozen copies of the Sunday Washington Post the morning the article was published…
* Visitors from 175 countries, territories and otherwise geographically distinct locations. I admit I had never before heard of Guernsey. And no offense, but isn’t there anything better to be doing in the Seychelles Islands than reading a review of “Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior and President”?!?
* More folks are stopping by than ever! Thanks to each of you…and to:
– Google (…again): no matter how many words you misspell while searching for a review of “Martin Van Buren: The Romantic Age of American Politics” it seems Google is determined to send you my way.
– The Washington Post: having a profile published in Washington D.C.’s paper-of-record really does generate an audience. As a token of my appreciation I have renewed my subscription!
– Donald Trump: say what you might about his pending presidency…this election season created an explosion of new visitors. And assuming the Earth isn’t destroyed by a political pulsar in the coming years I’m confident President Trump will offer biographers a treasure trove of interesting material with which to work.
Interestingly, a huge percentage of my post-election visitors have been drawn to Andrew Jackson biographies. Although I understand many of the comparisons between “Old Hickory” and “The Donald” I still think the operative equation is Donald Trump = Teddy Roosevelt + Twitter
Top 10 Most Popular Posts/Pages in 2016:
1. ***The Best Presidential Biographies***
2. The Best Biographies of Theodore Roosevelt
3. The Best Biographies of Abraham Lincoln
4. New / Upcoming Releases
5. The Best Biographies of Thomas Jefferson
6. The Best Biographies of George Washington
7. The Best Biographies of Andrew Jackson
8. The Best Biographies of James Madison
9. The Best Biographies of John Adams
10.The Best Biographies of Ulysses S. Grant
This Year’s Most Popular Book Reviews:
- “FDR” by Jean Edward Smith
- “Washington: A Life” by Ron Chernow
- “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” by Jon Meacham
- “John Adams” by David McCullough
- “The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey” by Candice Millard
- “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” by Edmund Morris
- “Lincoln” by David Herbert Donald
- “Grant” by Jean Edward Smith
- “The Life of Andrew Jackson” by Robert Remini
- “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House” by Jon Meacham
What’s Coming Up in 2017?!?
Dwight Eisenhower: 11 biographies (done in February?)
John F Kennedy: 13 biographies (March – June)
Lyndon Johnson: 9 biographies (August – October)
Richard Nixon: 10 biographies (November – )
★ And…many of you asked for it, so here it is: a list (in progress) which includes many of the non-presidents I’ve encountered on this journey who are worthy of biographical detours. Some of the most compelling figures in American history never occupied the White House, so now I’m finally assembling a list of them right here!