The Fix’s list of best presidential biographies

December 5, 2012

Last week, we renewed our call out to Fix readers to help us identify the best presidential biographies for each of the nation's 43 presidents. Fix readers delivered, helping us compile a comprehensive list, with plenty of time left in the holiday shopping season!

Below is our complete list, culled from reader input via Twitter and the comments section on The Fix. We've included more choices for some presidents than others, because in some cases, there are just too many good reads to chose from. Did we overlook any? The comments section is open for business!

* George Washington: Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow; His Excellency: George Washington, by Joseph J. Ellis. 

* John Adams: John Adams, by David McCullough; Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams, by Joseph J. Ellis. 

* Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson and His Time, by Dumas Malone; American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, by Joseph J. Ellis; Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham. 

* James Madison: James Madison: A Biography, by Ralph Ketchem. 

* James Monroe: The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness, by Harlow Giles Unger.

* John Quincy Adams: John Quincy Adams (The American Presidents Series), by Robert V. Remini. 

* Andrew Jackson: American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, by Jon Meacham; The Life of Andrew Jackson, by Robert V. Remini. 

* Martin Van Buren: Martin Van Buren (The American Presidents Series), by Ted Widmer; Martin Van Buren : The Romantic Age of American Politics, by John Niven. 

* William Henry Harrison: William Henry Harrison (The American Presidents Series) by Gail Collins; Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Times, by Freeman Cleaves. 

* John Tyler: John Tyler (The American Presidents Series), by Gary May; John Tyler: Champion of the Old South, by Oliver P. Chitwood. 

* James K. Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America, by Walter R. Borneman. 

* Zachary Taylor: Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest, by K. Jack Bauer. 

* Millard Fillmore: Millard Fillmore: Biography of a President, by Robert J. Rayback

* Franklin Pierce: Franklin Pierce (The American Presidents Series), by Michael Holt. 

* James Buchanan: President James Buchanan: A Biography, by Philip S. Klein. 

* Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln, by David Herbert Donald; Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin; With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln, by Stephen B. Oates; Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and The War Years, by Carl Sandburg; Abraham Lincoln, by Lord Charnwood. 

* Andrew Johnson: Andrew Johnson (The American Presidents Series), by Annette Gordon-Reed.

* Ulysses S. Grant: Grant, by Jean Edward Smith; Grant: A Biography, by William S. McFeeley.

* Rutherford B. Hayes: Rutherford B. Hayes, by Hans Trefousse (The American Presidents Series); Rutherford B. Hayes, and his America, by Harry Barnard.

* James Garfield: Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, by Candice Millard.

*Chester Arthur: Chester Alan Arthur (The American Presidents Series), by Zachary Karabell; Gentleman Boss: The Life of Chester Alan Arthur, by Thomas C. Reeves.

* Grover Cleveland (the 22nd and 24th president): Grover Cleveland: A Study in Character, by Alyn Brodsky; Grover Cleveland (The American Presidents Series), by Henry F. Graff.

* Benjamin Harrison: Benjamin Harrison (The American Presidents Series), by Charles W. Calhoun; Benjamin Harrison: Hoosier statesman, by Harry Joseph Sievers.

* William McKinley: Presidency of William McKinley, by Lewis. L. Gould. 

* Theodore Roosevelt: Edmund Morris's Theodore Roosevelt Trilogy; Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt, by David McCullough.

* William Howard Taft: The Life & Times of William Howard Taft, by Harry F. Pringle. 

* Woodrow Wilson: Woodrow Wilson: A Biography, by John Milton Cooper Jr.

* Warren G. Harding: The Shadow of Blooming Grove: Warren G. Harding in His Times, by Francis Russell; Warren G. Harding (The American Presidents Series), by John W. Dean.

* Calvin Coolidge: Coolidge, An American Enigma, by Robert Sobel.

* Herbert Hoover: Herbert Hoover (The American Presidents Series), by William E. Leuchtenburg. 

*Franklin Roosevelt: Franklin D. Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, by Conrad Black; No Ordinary Time, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

*Harry S. Truman: Truman, by David McCullough; Harry S. Truman (The American Presidents Series), by Robert Dallek.

*Dwight D. Eisenhower: Eisenhower: Soldier and President, by Stephen E. Ambrose; Eisenhower in War and Peace, by Jean Edward Smith.

*John F. Kennedy: A Thousand Days, by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.; An Unfinished Life, by Robert Dallek.

*Lyndon B. Johnson: Robert Caro's multi-volume set; Robert Dallek's two-volume set.

*Richard Nixon: The three-volume set by Steven Ambrose; Nixonland, by Richard Perlstein.

*Gerald Ford: Gerald R. Ford (The American Presidents Series) by Douglas Brinkley.

*Jimmy Carter:  Jimmy Carter, by Julian E. Zelizer (The American Presidents Series).

*Ronald Reagan: President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, by Lou Cannon; My Father at 100, by Ron Reagan, Jr.

*George H.W. Bush: George H.W. Bush (The American Presidents Series), by Timothy Naftali.

*Bill Clinton: First in His Class, by David Maraniss; The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House, by John F. Harris.

*George W. Bush: Decision Points (Bush's memoir); Peter Baker's forthcoming Bush book.

*Barack Obama: Barack Obama: The Story, by David Maraniss; The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, by David Remnick.

This post has been updated. 

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Chris Cillizza | December 5, 2012