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Craig Fehrman

Best Presidential Writing

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A sweeping, groundbreaking, and comprehensive treasury of the most essential presidential writings, featuring a richly varied mix of the beloved and the little-known, from stirring speeches and shrewd remarks to behind-the-scenes drafts and unpublished autobiographies. The Best Presidential Writing showcases America’s presidents as thinkers, citizens, and leaders.

Beginning with George Washington and his humble yet powerful Farewell Address to when Barack Obama delivered his emotional speech on the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, America’s presidents have upheld a tradition of exceptional writing. For the first time, the greatest presidential writings in history are united in this one treasury. It is the very best of campaign orations, early autobiographies, presidential speeches, postpresidential reflections, and much more. These pages include Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Infamy speech, also the words of young politicians claiming their place in history, including excerpts from Woodrow Wilson’s Congressional Government and Obama’s career-making convention speech. Here we have the words of mature leaders reflecting on their legacies, including John Adam’s autobiography and Harry S. Truman’s Memoirs. We even see hidden sides of the presidents that the public rarely glimpses: noted outdoorsman Teddy Roosevelt’s great passion for literature or sunny Ronald Reagan’s piercing childhood memories of escorting home his alcoholic father. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address are inadmissible highlights to be relished, but not to be missed are lesser-known texts like Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia and James Polk’s candid White House diary. 

Simply more than a curation of must-read presidential writings, this outstanding collection reveals the story of America through its Presidents. In their writings, we see the expansion of a nation - and empire-, transformation of ideals, and novel ideas take root. Even the most famous speeches find new meanings when read in this broad context, making The Best Presidential Writing full of insight and an essential historical document. 


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