Few of us will be disappointed to see 2020 fade into the rear-view mirror. But from a strictly presidential perspective it was a remarkably noteworthy year, featuring the third presidential impeachment (remember that?) and a historically unconventional presidential election (apparently still a work-in-process).
I’m curious to know how, with a healthy dose of political sobriety, history will judge the 45th presidency and the concomitant political scene. But despite a well-documented rush-to-publish (…and to judge) the dust is not likely to settle on this for a decade…or two.
Still, the past year was not all chaos and confusion.
– busiest year in this site’s history with almost 200,000 visitors
– nearly 600,000 pages viewed
– guests from 189 countries
– most popular page: The Best Presidential Bios (15% of all traffic)
– most popular president: Teddy Roosevelt (with Lincoln just behind)
– most popular new post: review of Tim McGrath’s new book on James Monroe
* several notable new presidential biographies were published including:
– James Monroe: A Life by Tim McGrath (May 5)
– President without a Party: The Life of John Tyler by Christopher Leahy (May 6)
– JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century by Fredrik Logevall (Sept 8)
– His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life by Jonathan Alter (Sept 29).
– Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times by David Reynolds (Sept 29)
* The best presidential bios I read this past year:
– Grant by Ron Chernow (absolutely wonderful, classic Chernow)
– His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life by Jonathan Alter (fabulous – a must read)
– President without a Party: The Life of John Tyler by Christopher Leahy (yes, really!)
* The best non-presidential bios I read this past year:
– Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow (simply superb!)
– Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles (so good)
– Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson (loved it)
– The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III by Peter Baker
What Else Do I Read?
Much of my free time is devoted to reading and reviewing biographies, but I’m also a ravenous consumer of great blogs, history, news, and opinion sites.
Among my favorite consumables: The Bulwark (Jonathan Last‘s musings in particular), Real Clear Politics (a standard for more than 15 years), Jeremy Anderberg’s “What To Read Next” and, of course, history buff and news reporter Evan Axelbank’s podcasts.
As always, my next-twelve-month reading plan can be found here. I plan to read 28 biographies in 2021 including 9 presidential biographies and 19 “others”. Among the most anticipated:
The Outlier: The Life and Presidency of Jimmy Carter by Kai Bird (coming in May – the new definitive bio of Carter?)
The Age of Eisenhower by William Hitchcock (more about the “age” or “Ike”? We’ll see…)
Nicholas and Alexandra: The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty by Robert Massie (an oldie but goodie?)
Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts (a classic which I hope will live up to expectations)
As always, please let me know what you’re reading, what you really loved and what I’ve missed!