Monday, February 16, 2015

Presidential Picks

Happy President's Day! 
President's Day is an interesting holiday because it was originally intended to celebrate George Washington's birthday on February 22, but was moved to the third Monday of February to create a three-day weekend and to widen its scope to include a celebration of all U.S. presidents. I certainly appreciate the three-day weekend, though we have yet to have a full week of classes yet because of all this snow!

I've put together a quick list of presidential picks to acknowledge the holiday, with a focus on the early presidents. Though there is certainly a plethora of literature that encompasses all of our country's leaders, I find that my interest is most peaked by our early leaders and by those who stood at the helm of our country at pivotal points in history.
 If you are a non-fiction, history, or biography-lover, this is the booklist for you!

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard // I'm not a huge fan of non-fiction literature, but this is one biography that I loved. Not only did I find it easier to access than most historical writing, but I also loved how Millard widened the scope beyond Garfield to include the context in which he lived. Hindsight is 20/20 but it's so interesting to see how the medicinal and scientific advances that were occurring at the time could have resulted in a different ending for Garfield, if only his advisors had made more open-minded decisions. 

The President and the Assassin by Scott Miller // This one is of a similar vein to Destiny of the Republic, which is what landed it on my to-read list. It's the story of President McKinley as he helped the U.S. transition to an industrial economy, and his assassin, Leon Czolgosz. Czolgosz was just one citizen representing the many who were bitterly opposed to the change and felt wounded by a government that was increasingly interested in the wants of the rich rather than the needs of the poor. I'm not familiar with this period in our history nor do I know much about the violent ending, so this is one book that I know I'll learn a lot from. 

John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger // John Quincy Adams was one historical figure who seemed to have a hand in just about every major event at the start of our country's history. He was an ambassador, secretary of state, senator, congressman, and president. He knew Washington and Lincoln, was there for the War of 1812 and the Civil War, and was a fierce advocate for the rights of the people. This biography has excellent ratings on Goodreads and promises to be packed with historical richness.

The Man Who Saved the Union by H.W. Brands // Ulysses Grant is well-known for his leadership on the battlefield, and for his part in bringing victory to the Union during the Civil War. This biography examines how he was also a skilled and competent president who helped tremendously to stitch the country back together and who was a fearless defender of civil rights. 

With Malice Toward None by Stephen B. Oates // I couldn't curate this list without a book about Lincoln, who is arguably the most well-liked president in our country's history. This biography details not only Lincoln's time as president, but also his early life and how he came to be such a revered figure in our past. It promises to read like a novel, which is something that I look for in historical reads. 

Do you have a favorite presidential read? Leave a recommendation below! 

P.S. Click here to read about my presidential pick from last year. 
P.P.S. Here's another favorite from my history-loving-bestie.

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