The 24 best books written by American presidents

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There have been many great biographies of American presidents over the years, but what about the books written by the commanders-in-chief themselves? Now, political memoirs are an essential part of any presidential campaign (i.e. memoirs of President Barack Obama The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream), but presidential autobiographies did not become common until after the Civil War.

The first president to publish a book during his lifetime was the 15th President of the United States, James Buchanan. “Buchanan’s memoir is certainly the worst presidential memoir I have read,” wrote historian Craig Fehrman. Lead Author: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote Told Smithsonian Magazine. “It’s mostly James Buchanan trying to blame everyone but James Buchanan for the [Civil] The War and its Aftermath.” Fehrman says the Civil War and Buchanan’s memoir marked a turning point for presidential memoirs.

Beginning with the 33rd President, Harry S. Truman, nearly every president has written memoirs or an autobiography. After World War II, political scientist George C. Edwards III explains to Smithsonian this presidents “began to think about history in a more systemic way. I think there was a broader concern about history and historical records, which developed around the same time.”

Now, there are plenty of books by presidents – Jimmy Carter alone wrote thirty – but we’ve picked out the most notable ones for you to read. In reverse chronological order, here are the most widely read books written by U.S. presidents:

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1

Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose

2

Trump: the art of the deal

4

My Father’s Dreams: A Story of Race and Heritage

8

An American Life: The Autobiography

9

A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety

ten

RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon (Richard Nixon Library Editions)

13

Crusade in Europe: A personal account of the Second World War

14

Memoirs of Harry S. Truman: 1945, the year of decisions

Brand: William S. Konecky Associates
15

Calvin Coolidge’s Autobiography

Institute of Intercollegiate Studies
16

Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt (Unexpurgated Start Publishing LLC)

18

Hunting Trips of a Rancher & The Wilderness Hunter

19

Personal Memoirs (Penguin Classics)

20

The Annotated Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant

Liveright publishing company
21

Mr. Buchanan’s administration on the eve of the rebellion

22

The autobiography of Martin Van Buren

23

The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson

24

The portable John Adams

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