A long time ago (in a galaxy far away), I made a goal for my life: to read a biography/autobiography of every one of our Presidents. It’s probably been….twenty years (?) since I first made that promise to myself (although I renewed it in my 40 by 40 list). And of the 44 Presidents that have served our country I’ve made it through exactly 4.25 (because seriously, Bill Clinton’s My Life is about 4,700 pages long) of their biographies.
It’s obviously not looking great for the home team on this goal, but on a more positive note several of the books that I’ve read have been quite good.
His Excellency by Joseph J. Ellis
I read this a long time ago on one of my many flights between Texas and Alaska (although obviously not this one!) so the details aren’t crystal clear in my mind. I do remember that it was very interesting and I learned some thing I had never heard before about George Washington. I also remember having a distinct impression that the author was writing with a heavy bias about a few things. He seemed a little too invested in the argument that Washington was a Deist, which may be true (since I’m definitely not a historian), but which I also have a hard time believing when I read some of his quotes. Ellis was also pretty insistent on painting Washington as pompous and arrogant. Again, this may be true, but it doesn’t really sound like the same guy who paid the Continental armies out of his own pockets half the time. All that aside, I thought it was a decent book.
Killing LIncoln by Bill O’Reilly
Okay, this was a seriously fascinating account of the last few days of Lincolns life and the man who was intent on taking it. I read it in one sitting. I’m not going to count this as my Lincoln biography because it only chronicled a the last few weeks of his Presidency. And anyway, if there was ever a President I’d like to read more than one book about, I think Mr. Lincoln would be the choice.
Decision Points by George W. Bush
I’m a fan of George W. Bush. I’m not hugely political, but I admire him quite a lot. I like this book. I didn’t agree with every choice he made, but I liked that he owned up to his mistakes and stood behind his decisions. I like his patriotism. I like how genuine he seems to be.
I obviously have a long way to go to reaching my goal. Anyone have suggestions for me?
See the rest of the series here.