The Best Presidential Writing: From 1789 to the Present

Image of The Best Presidential Writing: From 1789 to the Present
Release Date: 
October 13, 2020
Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Reviewed by: 

“an exceptional selection of the top-quality writings of that unique institution that is the American presidency . . .”

From the beginning of our Republic, American politics and society has been shaped by the writings of our Presidents. Craig Fehrman, author of the bestseller Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote has collected some of the best presidential speeches, memoirs, and other writings to create both a valuable reference and a thought-provoking journey through American history.

The author chooses writings from nearly every president, allowing the reader to discover first-hand how the office and role of the Chief Executive has evolved. Presidents have made famous speeches throughout our history, and many of those are here, but the author also gathers many lesser known speeches and other assorted writings to provide a more intimate look at the men who have held the nation’s highest elected office. 

These topics allow the reader to peruse many of the most famous American speeches and writings, offering an opportunity to read in context some of the most famous quotes in American history.

One of the more interesting collections are the campaign speeches of presidents over the centuries. The political process of choosing a president has completely changed over the 231 years since George Washington assumed the office, from the era where candidates feigned disinterest and used proxies to publish their thoughts to the campaign biographies and political position writings of recent candidates. Many presidents had an extensive body of writing before assuming office and the author includes a number of these as well to show how a president’s political views develop over the course of his personal life and public career.

The variety of chosen topics highlights the wide range of domestic and foreign policy challenges faced by the Chief Executive, from Lincoln’s first and second inaugural addresses, to Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chat on the rising threat of the Axis powers, to the historic address by Ronald Reagan at the Berlin Wall. Many of the writings also offer a behind the scenes look at presidents and the presidency with excerpts from the memoirs of Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter showing the very humble origins of even some of our most recent presidents.

Whether they are uplifting or somber, reflective or persuasive, America has been gifted with many highly intelligent and rhetorically gifted Chief Executives. This volume is both an excellent historical narrative and reference volume of an exceptional selection of the top-quality writings of that unique institution that is the American presidency.