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WHAT’S NEXT ?!?

After I finish my current 5+ year journey through the presidents I plan to tackle a “follow-up” list of presidential biographies which I somehow missed the first time through as well as selected presidential biographies published after I had finished that particular president.

But reading the best presidential biographies has also inspired me to read great biographies of the most compelling individuals whose lives meaningfully influenced (or challenged) our nation’s 45 chief executives.

Many of these “supporting characters” are famous in their own right, but others are largely unknown despite their compelling narratives. This “related reading” list will evolve over time – particularly with your suggestions – and was last updated July 16, 2017.

George Washington:

Alexander Hamilton Co-author of “The Federalist Papers” and first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (2004) by Ron Chernow
Alexander Hamilton: A Life (2003) by Willard Sterne Randall
Alexander Hamilton: A Biography (1979) by Forrest McDonald
Alexander Hamilton, American (1999) by Richard Brookhiser
Ben Franklin Diplomat, scientist and statesman known as “The First American” Ben Franklin: An American Life (2003) by Walter Isaacson
The Americanization of Ben Franklin (2004) by Gordon Wood
The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (2000) by H.W. Brands
Benjamin Franklin (1938) by Carl Van Doren
Lafayette French military officer, fought in the American Revolution Lafayette (2002) by Harlow Unger
Gouverneur Morris Statesman, Founding Father, co-author of the U.S. Constitution Gentleman Revolutionary: Gouverneur Morris, the Rake Who Wrote the Constitution (2003) by Richard Brookhiser
Pierre L’Enfant Architect & civil engineer, designed layout of Washington, D.C. Grand Avenues: The Story of Pierre Charles L’Enfant (2007) by Scott Berg
John Jay Pres. of Continental Congress, 1st Chief Justice of Supreme Court, negotiated Treaty of Paris John Jay: Founding Father (2005) by Walter Stahr
John Hancock Statesman, merchant, politician John Hancock: Merchant King and American Patriot (2000) by Harlow Unger
Henry Knox Military officer, first Secretary of War Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution (2008) by Mark Puls
Robert Morris Businessman, helped finance American Revolution Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution (2010) by Charles Rappleye
Benedict Arnold Military officer, traitor during the American Revolution Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor (1990) by Willard Sterne Randall
The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery (2010) by Steve Sheinkin
Patrick Henry Politician, Revolutionary leader Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation (2010) by Harlow Unger

John Adams:

John Marshall Chief Justice of Supreme Court John Marshall: Definer of a Nation (1996) by Jean Edward Smith
Napoleon French military and political leader Napoleon: A Life (2014) by Andrew Roberts
Napoleon: A Biography (2002) by Frank McLynn
Napoleon (1971) by Vincent Cronin
Napoleon: Soldier of Destiny (Vol 1) (2014) by Michael Broers
Samuel Adams Revolutionary leader, statesman; John Adams’s cousin Samuel Adams: A Life (2008) by Ira Stoll

Thomas Jefferson:

Meriwether Lewis American explorer Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West (1997) by Stephen Ambrose
The Character of Meriwether Lewis: Explorer in the Wilderness (2011) by Clay Jenkinson
Uncovering the Truth About Meriwether Lewis (2012) by Thomas Danisi
William Clark American explorer William Clark and the Shaping of the West (2004) by Landon Jones
Aaron Burr Military officer, VP, involved in Burr-Hamilton duel and the “Burr conspiracy Burr: A Novel (2000) by Gore Vidal
Albert Gallatin Secretary of the Treasury, known as America’s “Swiss Founding Father”
Gallatin: America’s Swiss Founding Father (2010) by Nicholas Dungan
Sally Hemmings Slave, Jefferson alleged to have been the father of one or more children with Hemmings Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings: An American Controversy (1997) by Annette Gordon-Reed

James Madison:

Henry Clay Speaker of the House, Senator, Secretary of State, presidential hopeful Henry Clay: A Statesman for the Union (1992) by Robert Remini
Henry Clay: The Essential American (2010) by David and Jeanne Heidler
Dolley Madison First Lady Strength and Honor: The Life of Dolley Madison (2004) by Richard Cote

James Monroe:

John Calhoun Secretary of State, Secretary of War, US Senator, Vice President John C. Calhoun: A Biography (1994) by Irving Bartlett
Thomas Paine Political philosopher and activist, pamphleteer, wrote “Common Sense
Tom Paine: A Political Life (1995) by John Keane

John Quincy Adams:

James Smithson British scientist, founding donor of Smithsonian Institution The Lost World of James Smithson (2007) by Heather Ewins

Andrew Jackson:

Alexis de Tocqueville French diplomat and historian, author of “Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life (2008) by Hugh Brogan
Sam Houston American politician and soldier, secured Texan independence from Mexico
Sam Houston (2002) by James Haley
David Crockett Frontiersman, politician and soldier David Crockett: The Lion of the West (2011) by Michael Wallis

Martin Van Buren:

Thurlow Weed New York Whig “Party Boss” and newspaper publisher Thurlow Weed: Wizard of the Lobby (2012) by Glyndon Van Deusen

William Henry Harrison:

Daniel Webster Secretary of State, politician, lawyer Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time (1997) by Robert Remini
Tecumseh Shawnee tribe leader
Tecumseh: A Life (1998) by John Sugden

James Polk:

Thomas Hart Benton Politician, advocate of westward expansion Thomas Hart Benton: A Life (2012) by Justin Wolff

Zachary Taylor:

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna Mexican politician & general, defeated by Taylor at Battle of Buena Vista Santa Anna of Mexico (2007) by Will Fowler

Millard Fillmore:

John Frémont Military officer, explorer, politician Pathfinder: John Charles Fremont and the Course of American Empire (2014) by John Chaffin

Franklin Pierce:

Jefferson Davis Politician, Secretary of War, President of the Confederate States of America Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief (2014) by James McPherson

Jefferson Davis, American (2000) by William Cooper

Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour (1991) by William Davis

Jefferson Davis: American Patriot 1808-1861 (Vol 1) (1955) by Hudson Strode

Jefferson Davis: Confederate President (Vol 2) (1959) by Hudson Strode

Jefferson Davis: Tragic Hero 1864-1889 (Vol 3) (1964) by Hudson Strode
Stephen Douglas Politician, chief sponsor of Kansas-Nebraska Act, Lincoln-Douglas debates
Stephen A. Douglas (1973) by Robert Johannsen

James Buchanan:

Simon Cameron U.S. Senator, Secretary of War Amiable Scoundrel: Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s Scandalous Secretary of War (2016) by Paul Kahan
Edwin Stanton Lawyer, Attorney General, Secretary of War
Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary (2017) by Walter Stahr

Lincoln’s Autocrat: The Life of Edwin Stanton (2015) by William Marvel

Abraham Lincoln:

William Sherman Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman: In the Service of My Country: A Life (2016) by James McDonough

Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman (2014) by Robert O’Connell

American General: The Life and Times of William Tecumseh Sherman (2014) by John S. D. Eisenhower

Sherman: A Soldier’s Passion for Order (1992) by John Marszalek

Sherman: Soldier, Realist, American (1929) by B. H. Liddell Hart
Robert E. Lee Confederate Army General
Lee (1961) (abridgement of 4-vol series) by Douglas Southall Freeman
The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee’s Civil War and His Decision that Changed American History (2015) by Jonathan Horn

Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee (2014) by Michael Korda

Robert E. Lee: A Biography (1995) by Emory Thomas
William Seward Secretary of State, politician
Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man (2012) by Walter Stahr
Salmon Chase Chief Justice, Secretary of the Treasury, politician
Salmon P. Chase: A Biography (1995) by John Niven
George McClellan Politician, Union Army General
George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon (1988) by Stephen Sears
Frederick Douglass Abolitionist, statesman, former slave
Frederick Douglass (1991) by William McFeely
Horace Greely Newspaper editor, politician, presidential aspirant
Horace Greely: Champion of American Freedom (2006) by Robert Williams
John Hay Private secretary to Lincoln, Secretary of State
All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay (2013) by John Taliaferro
John Nicolay Private secretary to Lincoln, biographer
Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image (2014) by Joshua Zeitz
John Wilkes Booth Stage actor, Lincoln’s assassin
Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth (2015) by Terry Alford

Ulysses Grant:

George Custer U.S. Army officer, cavalry commander Custer’s Trials: Life on the Frontier of a New America (2015) by T.J. Stiles
Cornelius Vanderbilt Railroad magnate The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (2009) by T.J. Stiles
Jay Gould Railroad magnate The Life and Legend of Jay Gould (1986) by Maury Klein

Rutherford B. Hayes:

Thomas Edison “America’s Greatest Inventor” The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World (2007) by Randall Stross
Edison: A Life of Invention (1998) by Paul Israel
Edison: A Biography (1986) by Matthew Josephson

James Garfield:

James Blaine Politician; Secretary of States, presidential aspirant Continental Liar From the State of Maine: James G. Blaine (2007) by Neil Rolde
Alexander Graham Bell Scientist, inventor Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention (2006) by Charlotte Gray
Robert Todd Lincoln Diplomat, Secretary of War, son of Abraham Lincoln Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln (2012) by Jason Emerson

Chester Arthur:

Roscoe Conkling Politician, “Stalwart” faction boss Roscoe Conkling of New York: Voice in the Senate (1971) by David Jordan

Grover Cleveland:

Eugene Debs Union leader, presidential aspirant The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene Victor Debs (1949) by Ray Ginger
Henry Ward Beecher Clergyman, abolitionist The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher (2006) by Debby Applegate

Benjamin Harrison:

Andrew Carnegie Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie (2006) by David Nasaw
Carnegie (2001) by Peter Krass
Andrew Carnegie (1989) by Joseph Frazier Wall

William McKinley:

William Jennings Bryan Politician, Secretary of State, presidential aspirant A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan (2006) by Michael Kazin
William Randolph Hearst Newspaper publisher The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst (2001) by David Nasaw

Theodore Roosevelt:

Henry Cabot Lodge Politician Henry Cabot Lodge: A Biography (1953) by John Garraty
J.P. Morgan Financier, banking magnate Morgan: American Financier (1999) by Jean Strouse
The Great Pierpont Morgan (1989) by Frederick Lew Allen
The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance (1990) by Ron Chernow
Oliver Wendell Holmes Associate Justice, Army officer The Justice from Beacon Hill: The Life and Times of Oliver Wendell Holmes (1991) by Liva Baker
John D. Rockefeller Sr. Oil magnate Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (2004) by Ron Chernow
Thomas Platt New York political “boss” Boss Platt and His New York Machine (2008) by Harold Gosnell
Upton Sinclair Author, political activist Upton Sinclair: California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual (2013) by Lauren Coodley
Jacob Riis Social reformer, “muckraker” journalist The Other Half: The Life of Jacob Riis and the World of Immigrant America (2008) by Tom Buk-Swienty
Ida Tarbell Author, “muckraker” journalist Ida Tarbell: Portrait of a Muckraker (1989) by Kathleen Brady
Taking on the Trust: How Ida Tarbell Brought Down John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil (2009) by Steve Weinberg
Gifford Pinchot Forester, politician Gifford Pinchot and the Making of Modern Environmentalism (2001) by Char Miller

William Taft:

Henry Stimson Secretary of War, Secretary of State, lawyer The Colonel: The Life and Wars of Henry Stimson (1990) by Godfrey Hodgson
Booker T. Washington Educator, advisor, former slave Up From History: The Life of Booker T. Washington (2009) by Robert Norrell

Woodrow Wilson:

Colonel House Adviser to Wilson Colonel House: A Biography of Woodrow Wilson’s Silent Partner (2014) by Charles Neu
John J. Pershing General, U.S. Army Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing (1977) (2 vols) by Frank Vandiver
Guerilla Warrior: The Early Life of John J. Pershing (Vol 1) (1973) by Donald Smythe
Pershing: General of the Armies (Vol 2) (1986) by Donald Smythe
Louis Brandeis Associate Justice, adviser to Wilson Louis D. Brandeis: A Life (2012) by Melvin Urofsky
Edith Wilson First Lady, 2nd wife of Woodrow Wilson Madam President: The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson (2016) by William Hazelgrove
Henry Ford Industrialist; founder of Ford Motor Co. The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century (2005) by Steven Watts
Walter Lippmann Journalist, political commentator, adviser to Wilson Walter Lippmann and the American Century (1980) by Ronald Steel

Warren Harding:

Andrew Mellon Banker, industrialist, Secretary of the Treasury Mellon: An American Life (2006) by David Cannadine
John Lewis President of United Mine Workers John L. Lewis: A Biography (1992) by Melvyn Dubofsky

Calvin Coolidge:

Samuel Gompers Labor union leader, Founder of AFL Samuel Gompers: A Biography (1963) by Bernard Mandel

Herbert Hoover:

Alfred Smith Politician, presidential aspirant Empire Statesman: The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith (2001) by Robert Slayton
Alfred E. Smith: Happy Warrior (2002) by Christopher Finan

Franklin Roosevelt:

Eleanor Roosevelt First Lady, social activist Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol 1: 1884-1933 (1993) by Blanche Wiesen Cook
Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol 2: The Defining Years, 1933-1938 (2000) by Blanche Wiesen Cook
Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol 3: The War Years and After, 1939-1962 (2016) by Blanche Wiesen Cook
Winston Churchill British Prime Minister The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 (Vol 1) (1984) by William Manchester
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940 (Vol 2) (1989) by William Manchester
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 (Vol 3) by Wm Manchester and Paul Reid
Churchill: A Life (Churchill/Gilbert series abridgement) (1991) by Martin Gilbert
Winston S. Churchill: Youth, 1874-1900 (Vol 1) (1966) by Randolph Churchill
Winston S. Churchill: Young Statesman, 1901-1914 (Vol 2) (1967) by Randolph Churchill
Winston S. Churchill: The Challenge of War, 1914-1916 (Vol 3) (1971) by Martin Gilbert
Winston S. Churchill: World in Torment, 1916-1922 (Vol 4) (1975) by Martin Gilbert
Winston S. Churchill: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939 (Vol 5) (1976) by Martin Gilbert
Winston S. Churchill: Finest Hour, 1939-1941 (Vol 6) (1983) by Martin Gilbert
Winston S. Churchill: Road to Victory, 1941-1945 (Vol 7) (1986) by Martin Gilbert
Winston S. Churchill: Never Despair, 1945-1965 (Vol 8) (1988) by Martin Gilbert
Churchill: A Biography (2001) by Roy Jenkins
Churchill: A Study in Greatness (2003) by Geoffrey Best
Churchill (2009) by Paul Johnson
Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship (2003) by Jon Meacham
Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill (2016) by Candice Millard
Josef Stalin Leader of the Soviet Union Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator (2015) by Oleg Khlevniuk
Young Stalin (2007) by Simon Montefiore
Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar (2004) by Simon Montefiore
Stalin: A Biography (2005) by Robert Service
Stalin: Breaker of Nations (1991) by Robert Conquest
Stalin: A Political Biography (1949) by Isaac Deutscher
Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 (Vol 1) (2014) by Stephen Kotkin
Adolf Hitler Leader of Nazi Germany Hitler: A Biography (series abridgement) (2008) by Ian Kerschaw
Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris (Vol 1) (1999) by Ian Kershaw
Hitler: 1936-1945 Nemesis (Vol 2) (2000) by Ian Kershaw
Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography (series abridgement) (1976) by John Tolan
Hitler (1974) by Joachim Fest
Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (1962) by Alan Bullock
Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939 (Vol 1) by Volker Ullrich
Douglas MacArthur General, U.S. Army American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964 (1978) by William Manchester
The Years of MacArthur, Volume 1: 1880-1941 (1970) by D. Clayton James
The Years of MacArthur, Volume 2: 1941-1945 (1975) by D. Clayton James
The Years of MacArthur, Volume 3: 1945-1964 (1985) by D. Clayton James
Douglas MacArthur: American Warrior (2016) by Arthur Herman
Frances Perkins Secretary of Labor, first female cabinet member The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins (2010) by Kirstin Downey
Harry Hopkins Adviser to FDR, New Deal architect Harry Hopkins: A Biography (1977) by Henry Hitch Adams
Louis Howe Adviser to FDR (and Eleanor) FDR’s Shadow: Louis Howe, the Force that Shaped Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt (2009) by Julie Fenster
Huey Long Politician; presidential aspirant Huey Long (1969) by T. Harry Williams
Robert Oppenheimer Physicist, “Father of the Atomic Bomb” American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (2005) by Kai Bird

Harry Truman:

George Marshall U.S. Army General, Sec of State, Sec of Defense, Marshall Plan General of the Army: George C. Marshall, Soldier and Statesman (1990) by Ed Cray
George C. Marshall: Education of a General, 1880-1939 (Vol 1) (1963) by Forrest C. Pogue
George C. Marshall: Ordeal and Hope, 1939-1942 (Vol 2) by Forrest C. Pogue
George C. Marshall: Organizer of Victory, 1943-1945 (Vol 3) by Forrest C. Pogue
George C. Marshall: Statesman, 1945-1959 (Vol 4) by Forrest C. Pogue
Dean Acheson Secretary of State, architect of NATO Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War (2006) by Robert Beisner
Joseph McCarthy Senator, anti-Communist zealot Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America’s Most Hated Senator (1999) by Arthur Herman
A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy (1989) by David Oshinsky

Dwight Eisenhower:

Fox Conner Major General, U.S. Army General Fox Conner: Pershing’s Chief of Operations and Eisenhower’s Mentor (2016) by Steven Rabalais
George Patton General, U.S. Army Patton: A Genius for War (1995) by Carlo D’Este
Patton: The Man Behind the Legend, 185-1945 (1985) by Martin Blumenson
Bernard Montgomery Senior British Army officer Monty: The Battles of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (Vol 1) (1994) by Nigel Hamilton
Master of the Battlefield: Monty’s War Years 1942-1944 (Vol 2) (1984) by Nigel Hamilton
Monty: The Field-Marshal 1944-1976 (Vol 3) (1986) by Nigel Hamilton
Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil rights leader, minister Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. (2013) by Stephen Oates
Earl Warren Chief Justice, politician Chief Justice: A Biography of Earl Warren (1997) by Ed Cray
Justice For All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made (2006) by Jim Newton
Rosa Parks Civil rights activist The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks (2013) by Jeanne Theoharis
Albert Einstein Physicist Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007) by Walter Isaacson
Adlai Stevenson Politician, diplomat, presidential aspirant Adlai Stevenson: His Life and Legacy (1989) by Porter McKeever
Adlai Stevenson of Illinois: The Life of Adlai E. Stevenson (Vol 1) (1976) by John Barlow Martin
Adlai Stevenson and the World: The Life of Adlai E. Stevenson (Vol 2) (1977) by John Barlow Martin
Khrushchev Leader of the Soviet Union Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (2003) by William Taubman
Charles de Gaulle Leader of Free France, French General and statesman The General: Charles de Gaulle and the France He Saved (2012) by Jonathan Fenby
Wernher von Braun Aerospace engineer / rocket scientist Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War (2007) by Michael Neufield

John F. Kennedy:

Joseph P. Kennedy JFK’s father, businessman, politician The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy (2012) by David Nasaw
Robert Kennedy JFK’s Attorney General and brother, politician Robert Kennedy and His Times (1978) by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
Robert Kennedy: His Life (2000) by Evan Thomas
Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon (2016)  by Larry Tye
Edward Kennedy JFK’s brother, U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography (1999) by Adam Clymer
Jacqueline Kennedy First Lady America’s Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (2000) by Sarah Bradford
Sam Rayburn Politician; longest serving Speaker of the House Rayburn: A Biography (1987) by D. B. Hardeman

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