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The Best Presidential Writing

From 1789 to the Present

Edited by Craig Fehrman

A must-have book for every serious library, The Best Presidential Writing is a richly varied treasury of presidential writings: an ideal mix of the widely beloved and the freshly rediscovered, from soaring speeches and shrewd remarks to behind-the-scenes drafts and unpublished poetry, edited by Craig Fehrman, a rising young presidential scholar and the author of Author in Chief.

From the early years of our nation’s history, when George Washington wrote his historic Farewell Address, a powerful yet humble letter sharing his faith in American democracy on the eve of his retirement, to our current age, when Barack Obama delivered his moving 2015 speech on the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma marches, America’s presidents have upheld a tradition of exceptional writing.

Now for the first time, the greatest presidential writings in history are united in one comprehensive treasury. In these pages, we see not only the words that shaped our nation, like Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Infamy” Speech, but also the words of young politicians claiming their place in our history, including excerpts from John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage and Barack Obama’s Dreams of My Father, and the words of mature leaders reflecting on their legacies, including Ulysses S. Grant’s Personal Memoirs and George W. Bush’s Decision Points. 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.

Encompassing notable favorites like the Gettysburg Address and John F. Kennedy’s inaugural as well as lesser-known texts like Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia and Andrew Jackson’s memo on the Battle of New Orleans, The Best Presidential Writing showcases America’s presidents as thinkers, citizens, and leaders.