Andrew Johnson The American Presidents Series: The 17th President, 1865-1869

The American Presidents

Annette Gordon-Reed; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Times Books




192 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed shows how ill-suited the nation's seventeenth president was to the task of reconstructing the United States after the Civil War. With adept scholarship, Gordon-Reed illustrates how Johnson failed to provide the leadership that was needed at a pivotal moment, leaving the United States with problems that until this day continue to go unresolved.


Praise for Andrew Johnson

"A fair-minded, toned-down portrait of a deeply problematic president who could not rise to the country's challenge after the Civil War."—Kirkus Reviews
"In a short biography, all bases can be covered, but the author is still left to exercise the tone of a personal essay, which this author accomplishes brilliantly."—Booklist (starred review)

"In this short and brilliantly written book, award-winning author Gordon-Reed argues that the nation went from the best President to the worst during this most crucial period of its history . . . This concise, well-documented, and accessible book is recommended for all college and public libraries."—Theresa McDevitt, Indiana University of Pennsylvania Library, Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt


"The True Index of His Heart"

Frederick Douglass saw it in a brief glance he exchanged with Andrew Johnson during one of the most important rituals in the life of the American nation, performed at the most trying time in...

Read the full excerpt


  • Annette Gordon-Reed; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

  • Annette Gordon-Reed is the author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in History and the National Book Award. She holds three appointments at Harvard University: professor of law at Harvard Law School, professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. A MacArthur Fellow and a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, she is also the author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy; the coauthor with Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., of Vernon Can Read!; and the editor of Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History. She lives in New York City.

  • Annette Gordon-Reed Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times/Redux
  • Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Dominique Nabokov