The American Presidents

"I regard The American Presidents Series as an exciting educational opportunity, telling the history of the United States in terms of forty-two men who at one time or another led  or misled  the republic."
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Times Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, is the publisher of the landmark series The American Presidents. The acclaimed presidential historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., served as general series editor until his death in February 2007. Sean Wilentz, the distinguished Princeton University historian, has taken over the reins as series editor. It is the aim of the series to present the grand panorama of our chief executives in volumes compact enough for the busy reader, lucid enough for the scholar. Each volume will be an incisive, meditation-length biographical essay that focuses on the subject's presidency, even as it offers a distillation of his life, character, and career.

To undertake the biographies of the American Presidents, Times Books has engaged a wide variety of distinguished contributors, including Garry Wills on James Madison, John Dean on Warren G. Harding, Douglas Brinkley on Gerald R. Ford, and Joyce Appleby on Thomas Jefferson.

The American Presidents Series will present the forty-four Americans who have served as president, to help tell the story of a nation.

Visit the American Presidents Series website

BOOKS IN THIS
SERIES

William Howard Taft

The American Presidents

Jeffrey Rosen; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

Available 02/01/2017

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George W. Bush
George W. Bush

The American Presidents

James Mann; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

The controversial president whose time in office was defined by the September 11 attacks and the war on terrorGeorge W. Bush stirred powerful feelings on both sides of the aisle. Republicans...

Available 02/03/2015

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John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy

The American Presidents

Alan Brinkley; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

The young president who brought vigor and glamour to the White House while he confronted cold war crises abroad and calls for social change at homeJohn Fitzgerald Kennedy was a new...

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William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison

The American Presidents

Gail Collins; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

The president who served the shortest term—just a single month—but whose victorious election campaign rewrote the rules for candidates seeking America's highest officeWilliam...

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Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore

The American Presidents

Paul Finkelman; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

The oddly named president whose shortsightedness and stubbornness fractured the nation and sowed the seeds of civil warIn the summer of 1850, America was at a terrible crossroads. Congress...

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Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson

The American Presidents

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

Henry Holt and Co.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian recounts the tale of the unwanted president who ran afoul of Congress over Reconstruction and was nearly removed from office Andrew Johnson never...

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Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter

The American Presidents

Julian E. Zelizer; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

The maverick politician from Georgia who rode the post- Watergate wave into office but whose term was consumed by economic and international crises A peanut farmer from Georgia,...

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Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson

The American Presidents

Charles Peters; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

The towering figure who sought to transform America into a "Great Society" but whose ambitions and presidency collapsed in the tragedy of the Vietnam WarFew figures in American history...

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Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce

The American Presidents

Michael F. Holt; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

The genial but troubled New Englander whose single-minded partisan loyalties inflamed the nation's simmering battle over slavery Charming and handsome, Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire...

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Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover

The American Presidents

William E. Leuchtenburg; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

The Republican efficiency expert whose economic boosterism met its match in the Great DepressionCatapulted into national politics by his heroic campaigns to feed Europe during...

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Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

The American Presidents

George S. McGovern; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

America’s greatest president, who rose to power in the country’s greatest hour of need and whose vision saw the United States through the Civil WarAbraham Lincoln...

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John Tyler
John Tyler

The American Presidents

Gary May; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

The first “accidental president,” whose secret maneuverings brought Texas into the Union and set secession in motionWhen William Henry Harrison died in April 1841,...

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Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman

The American Presidents

Robert Dallek; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

The plainspoken man from Missouri who never expected to be president yet rose to become one of the greatest leaders of the twentieth centuryIn April 1945, after the death...

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Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor

The American Presidents

John S. D. Eisenhower; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

The rough-hewn general who rose to the nation’s highest office, and whose presidency witnessed the first political skirmishes that would lead to the Civil WarZachary...

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George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush

The American Presidents

Timothy Naftali; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

Henry Holt and Co.

The judicious statesman who won victories abroad but suffered defeat at home, whose wisdom and demeanor served America well at a critical time George...

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Richard M. Nixon
Richard M. Nixon

The American Presidents

Elizabeth Drew; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

The complex man at the center of America's most self-destructive presidency In this provocative and revelatory assessment of the only president...

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Gerald R. Ford
Gerald R. Ford

The American Presidents

Douglas Brinkley; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

The "accidental" president whose innate decency and steady hand restored the presidency after its greatest crisis When Gerald R. Ford entered the White...

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Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge

The American Presidents

David Greenberg; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

The austere president who presided over the Roaring Twenties and whose conservatism masked an innovative approach to national leadership He was known as "Silent...

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James A. Garfield
James A. Garfield

The American Presidents

Ira Rutkow; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

The ambitious self-made man who reached the pinnacle of American politics--only to be felled by an assassin's bullet and to die at the hands of his doctorsJames A. Garfield...

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Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson

The American Presidents

Sean Wilentz; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

The towering figure who remade American politics--the champion of the ordinary citizen and the scourge of entrenched privilege The Founding Fathers espoused a republican...

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James Monroe
James Monroe

The American Presidents

Gary Hart; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

The former senator and presidential candidate offers a provocative new assessment of the first “national security president”James Monroe is remembered today primarily...

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Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison

The American Presidents

Charles W. Calhoun; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

The scion of a political dynasty ushers in the era of big government Politics was in Benjamin Harrison's blood. His great-grandfather signed the Declaration and his grandfather,...

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Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren

The American Presidents

Ted Widmer; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

The first president born after America's independence ushers in a new era of no-holds-barred democracy The first "professional politician" to become president, the slick and dandyish...

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Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant

The American Presidents

Josiah Bunting III; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

The underappreciated presidency of the military man who won the Civil War and then had to win the peace as wellAs a general, Ulysses S. Grant is routinely described in glowing terms-the...

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Chester Alan Arthur
Chester Alan Arthur

The American Presidents

Zachary Karabell; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

The Gilded Age bon vivant who became America's unlikeliest chief executive-and who presided over a sweeping reform of the system that nurtured him Chester Alan Arthur never dreamed...

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James Buchanan
James Buchanan

The American Presidents

Jean H. Baker; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

A provocative reconsideration of a presidency on the brink of Civil WarAlmost no president was as well trained and well prepared for the office as James Buchanan. He had served in...

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George Washington
George Washington

The American Presidents

James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

A premier leadership scholar and an eighteenth-century expert define the special contributions and qualifications of our first president Revolutionary hero, founding president, and...

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Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding

The American Presidents

John W. Dean; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

President Nixon’s former counsel illuminates another presidency marked by scandalWarren G. Harding may be best known as America’s worst president. Scandals plagued him:...

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James K. Polk
James K. Polk

The American Presidents

John Seigenthaler; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

The story of a pivotal president who watched over our westward expansion and solidified the dream of Jacksonian democracyJames K. Polk was a shrewd and decisive commander in chief,...

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The American Presidents

Roy Jenkins; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

A masterly work by the New York Times bestselling author of Churchill and GladstoneA protean figure and a man of massive achievement, Franklin Delano Roosevelt...

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William McKinley
William McKinley

The American Presidents

Kevin Phillips; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

A bestselling historian and political commentator reconsiders McKinley's overshadowed legacyBy any serious measurement, bestselling historian Kevin Phillips argues, William McKinley...

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John Adams
John Adams

The American Presidents

John Patrick Diggins; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

A revealing look at the true beginning of American politicsUntil recently rescued by David McCullough, John Adams has always been overshadowed by Washington and Jefferson. Volatile,...

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Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson

The American Presidents

H. W. Brands; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

A comprehensive account of the rise and fall of one of the major shapers of American foreign policyOn the eve of his inauguration as President, Woodrow Wilson commented, “It...

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Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

The American Presidents

Joyce Appleby; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

An illuminating analysis of the man whose name is synonymous with American democracyFew presidents have embodied the American spirit as fully as Thomas Jefferson. He was the originator...

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Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes

The American Presidents

Hans Trefousse; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

A leader of the Reconstruction era, whose contested election eerily parallels the election debacle of 2000 The disputed election of 1876 between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden,...

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Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower

The American Presidents

Tom Wicker; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

An American icon and hero faces a nation-and a world-in transitionA bona-fide American hero at the close of World War II, General Dwight Eisenhower rode an enormous wave of popularity into...

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John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams

The American Presidents

Robert V. Remini; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

A vivid portrait of a man whose pre- and post-presidential careers overshadowed his presidency.Chosen by the House of Representatives after an inconclusive election against Andrew...

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Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland

The American Presidents

Henry F. Graff; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

A fresh look at the only president to serve nonconsecutive terms.Though often overlooked, Grover Cleveland was a significant figure in American presidential history. Having run for...

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James Madison
James Madison

The American Presidents

Garry Wills; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

A bestselling historian examines the life of a Founding Father.Renowned historian and social commentator Garry Wills takes a fresh look at the life of James Madison, from his rise to prominence...

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Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt

The American Presidents

Louis Auchincloss; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Henry Holt and Co.

An intimate portrait of the first president of the 20th centuryThe American century opened with the election of that quintessentially American adventurer, Theodore Roosevelt. Louis Auchincloss's...

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  • Dwight D. Eisenhower by Tom Wicker--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Tom Wicker's biography Dwight D. Eisenhower, part of The American Presidents Series. A bona-fide American hero at the close of World War II, General Dwight Eisenhower rode an enormous wave of popularity into the Oval Office seven years later. Though we may view the Eisenhower years through a hazy lens of 1950s nostalgia, historians consider his presidency one of the least successful.

  • Grover Cleveland by Henry F. Graff--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Henry F. Graff's biography Grover Cleveland, part of The American Presidents Series. Though often overlooked, Grover Cleveland was a significant figure in American presidential history. Having run for President three times and gaining the popular vote majority each time -- despite losing the electoral college in 1892 -- Cleveland was unique in the line of nineteenth-century Chief Executives.

  • Harry S. Truman by Robert Dallek--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Robert Dallek's biography Harry S. Truman, about the plainspoken man from Missouri who never expected to be president yet rose to become one of the greatest leaders of the twentieth century. Few chief executives have had so lasting an impact.

  • John Adams by John Patrick Diggins--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from John Patrick Diggins' biography John Adams, part of The American Presidents Series. Until recently rescued by David McCullough, John Adams has always been overshadowed by Washington and Jefferson. Volatile, impulsive, irritable, and self-pitying, Adams seemed temperamentally unsuited for the presidency. Yet in many ways he was the perfect successor to Washington in terms of ability, experience, and popularity.

  • John Quincy Adams by Robert V. Remini--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Robert V. Remini's biography John Quincy Adams, part of The American Presidents Series. Chosen by the House of Representatives after an inconclusive election against Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams often failed to mesh with the ethos of his era, pushing unsuccessfully for a strong, consolidated national government. Historian Robert V.

  • Rutherford B. Hayes by Hans L. Trefousse--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Hans L. Trefousse's biography Rutherford B. Hayes, part of The American Presidents Series. Hayes was a leader of the Reconstruction era, whose contested election eerily parallels the election debacle of 2000. The disputed election of 1876 between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden, in which Congress set up a special electoral commission, handing the disputed electoral votes to Hayes, brings recent events into sharp focus.

  • Theodore Roosevelt by Louis Auchincloss--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Louis Auchincloss' biography Theodore Roosevelt, an intimate portrait of the first president of the 20th century. The American century opened with the election of that quintessentially American adventurer, Theodore Roosevelt. Louis Auchincloss's warm and knowing biography introduces us to the man behind the many myths of Theodore Roosevelt.

  • Thomas Jefferson by Joyce Appleby--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Joyce Appleby's biography Thomas Jefferson, part of The American Presidents Series. Few presidents have embodied the American spirit as fully as Thomas Jefferson. He was the originator of so many of the founding principles of American democracy. Politically, he shuffled off the centralized authority of the Federalists, working toward a more diffuse and minimalist leadership.

  • William McKinley by Kevin Phillips--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Kevin Phillips' biography William McKinley. By any serious measurement, bestselling historian Kevin Phillips argues, William McKinley was a major American president. It was during his administration that the United States made its diplomatic and military debut as a world power.

  • Woodrow Wilson by H.W. Brands--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from H.W. Brands' biography Woodrow Wilson, part of The American Presidents Series. Acclaimed historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist H. W. Brands offers a clear, well-informed, and timely account of Wilson's unusual route to the White House, his campaign against corporate interests, his struggles with rivals at home and allies abroad, and his decline in popularity and health following the rejection by Congress of his League of Nations.

  • James Madison by Garry Wills--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from bestselling historian Garry Wills' biography James Madison. Explore Madison's rise to prominence in the colonies through his role in the creation if the Articles of Confederation and the first Constitutional Congress. Madison oversaw the first foreign war under the constitution, and had to confront issues such as public morale, internal security, relations with Congress, and the independence of the military.

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