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Books for Potus Geeks in 2022

Sadly, 2021 wasn't a year in which a lot of reading was accomplished, something I hope to change in 2022. Typically for the last post of the year in this community, I look at some of the upcoming books I hope to read and add to my potus_geeks library in the upcoming year. Here are 10 books that I am looking forward to in the new year, and that you might be as well.

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10. The First Populist: A Life of Andrew Jackson by David S. Brown: Due to hit bookshelves on May 17, 2022, the author looks at the life of the Hero of New Orleans as one of the first great populists to capture the office of President, breaking tradition, and winning election to the Presidency twice, despite not being a member of the elite or upper class.

9. The Wilson Circle: President Woodrow Wilson and His Advisers by Charles Neu: It's likely that a stroke changed Woodrow Wilson from being a president with great potential as a world leader into someone who made terrible decisions at the end of his presidency (including hiding his illness from the nation and having his wife act as de facto president.) It is for this reason that historians continue to be divided over the impact of his presidency and his political leadership. A leader on the world stage, the racism of his administration and its disregard for civil liberties have caused a fall in the esteem Wilson was once held in. Charles E. Neu looks at the Wilson presidency through the lens of his inner circle, a group of ten advisers. This book is due out on February 22, 2022.

8. The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A First Historical Assessment by Julian Zelizer: Academic post-mortems of presidential administrations can be interesting if done in an objective manner, but how does one be objective when it comes to the president who has evoked the most disparate and polarizing opinions in history? We'll find out on March 29, 2022 when this book is due out.

7. Campaign of the Century: Kennedy, Nixon and the Election of 1960 by Irwin Gellman: Due out on January 4, 2022, books about past elections and the story behind the campaigns are almost always good, especially when written by an experienced author. The 1960 campaign was one of the most interesting. What is promised to be different in Gellman's book is that it will focus on Nixon's campaign equally or moreso than Kennedy's, giving a new perspective to an old story.

6. Hell and High Water: Joe Biden's Moment and America's Existential Election by John Heilemann: No release date has been given yet for this post mortem of the 2020 Presidential election, but coming from the pen of veteran reporter and one of the hosts of The Circus, I'm expecting this to be a terrific recounting of the strangest election in modern history.

5. A Man of Iron: The Turbulent Life and Improbable Presidency of Grover Cleveland by Troy Senik: When a biography about a president about whom little has been written, my interest perks up. Due out on June 14th, this book promises to feature "a wealth of in-depth research and newly uncovered details" abouy the life and extraordinary career of the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. Reputed to be a politician of remarkable honesty and principle, Cleveland's life was also mired in secrets, and he went on to be somewhat of a contradiction: a successful Democratic politician remembered most fondly by Republicans.

4. The Peacemaker: Richard Nixon the Man, Patriot, President, and Visionary by Ben Stein: Stein is known as an actor, comedian, and game show host, but once upon a time he was a speechwriter for Richard Nixon. I don't expect his upcoming book about the man known as "Tricky Dicky" to be objective, but I do expect it to be witty, full of personal observations and experiences, and I expect it to portray the 37th President in a completely different light. This book is due out on October 4, 2022.

3. The Jeffersonians: The Visionary Presidencies of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe by Kevin Gutzman: Due out on December 13, 2022, the author promises readers a "full chronicle of the men, known as The Virginia Dynasty, who served as president from 1801 to 1825 and implemented the foreign-policy, domestic, and constitutional agenda of the radical wing of the American Revolution, setting guideposts for later American liberals to follow." As the author notes, the three were close political allies. Jefferson and Madison were the close friends, and Monroe was Jefferson’s former law student. Each served as secretary of state before becoming president.

2. The Jazz Age President: Defending Warren G. Harding by Ryan S. Walters, due out on February 15, 2022. From the description of this book and its title, the author shares the same opinion of the much maligned 29th President that I do. Harding is best remembered for the scandals of his administration as well as his straying from his marriage vows on multiple occasions. While the latter is fodder for amusement and entertaining stories, there was much more to Harding, who proved to be a solid fiscal manager, a visionary of a peaceful future, as well as a courageous champion of civil rights at a time when the KKK was a strong political force. I look forward to Walters defense of a man whose life was both colorful and tragic, but who beneath it all was a principled leader.

1. Roosevelt Sweeps Nation: FDR’s 1936 Landslide and the Triumph of the Liberal Ideal by David Pietrusza: I am always stoked when I learn that a new book will soon be released by David Pietrusza, who has written the best accounts of presidential elections. The former baseball writer turned top tier historian has hit home runs in his wonderful accounts of the elections of 1920, 1932, 1948 and 1960. His upcoming account of FDR's landslide victory of Kansas Governor Alf Landon (sorry for the spoiler) in the depression era contest promises to explore an undiscovered gem of presidential election history. I'm going to steal a quote from John Bicknell, another terrific author, because he says it much better than I can:

“Who could spin an interesting tale out of an election in which one candidate gets 62 percent of the vote and carries all but two states? David Pietrusza, the author of some of the best campaign books ever written, renders FDR’s 1936 landslide over Alf Landon into a page turner with an operatic cast of characters. Like his volumes on 1920, 1932, 1948, and 1960, Pietrusza has produced another masterpiece.” –Author John Bicknell

This book is due out on August 2, 2022. I've already pre-ordered mine here.



Much appreciation to blogger Stephen Floyd, who writes a wonderful website on Presidential biographies and lets the rest of us know what is due out in future. For information about these books and others I've not included above, I recommend that you check out this list with helpful links.

Happy reading in 2002!
Tags: alf landon, andrew jackson, donald trump, franklin delano roosevelt, grover cleveland, james madison, james monroe, joe biden, john f. kennedy, presidential bios, richard nixon, thomas jefferson, warren harding, woodrow wilson
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