The most well written political biographies

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Massachusetts, which produced four presidents and untold presidential candidates including Mitt Romney, Mike Dukakis, John Kerry, Elizabeth Warren, and Gov. William Butler, who ran in 1884. My first career was as a newspaper reporter and editor, and I worked for papers in Massachusetts, New York, Colorado, and Washington state. I’ve dabbled in politics myself, working as a campaign press secretary for the late Washington Gov. Booth Gardner. Newspapers gave me an abiding hatred for adverbs, the passive voice, and bias in word selection. (No, historians shouldn’t use “patriot” in describing the Revolution’s American rebels, because loyalists and Indian nations were just as patriotic in their own minds.)


I wrote...

After Yorktown: The Final Struggle for American Independence

By Don Glickstein,

Book cover of After Yorktown: The Final Struggle for American Independence

What is my book about?

The American Revolution was the United States’ first world war. It involved not just American rebels and England, but France, Holland, Spain, the Indian Kingdom of Mysore, Native American nations, and enslaved people. It was fought from the Arctic to South America, from South Africa to the Mediterranean. The war’s last battle was fought in India, where a Muslim co-belligerent of the American rebels battled the British. After Yorktown tells the story of the people and the war that continued long after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Passage of Power

Don Glickstein Why did I love this book?

Imagine you’re Vice President Lyndon Johnson on Nov. 22, 1963. The Secret Service just hustled you into a secure room at the Dallas hospital where doctors are desperately trying to keep President John F. Kennedy alive after an assassination attempt. What’s going through your mind? If Kennedy dies, what are your next steps? Robert Caro found out. Pulitzer-winner Caro is the greatest historian of our lifetime—and a brilliant, accessible writer who makes it impossible to put down a 700-page nonfiction book. The Passage of Power is the fourth of a planned five-volume biography of Johnson, the man who helped turn Martin Luther King’s dream into reality, and then self-imploded with the Vietnam War. Caro’s final volume will be an instant best-seller.

By Robert A. Caro,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Passage of Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE, THE MARK LYNTON HISTORY PRIZE, THE AMERICAN HISTORY BOOK PRIZE

Book Four of Robert A. Caro’s monumental The Years of Lyndon Johnson displays all the narrative energy and illuminating insight that led the Times of London to acclaim it as “one of the truly great political biographies of the modern age. A masterpiece.”

The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career—1958 to1964. It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power…


Book cover of George C. Marshall, Vol. 1: Education of a General, 1880-1939

Don Glickstein Why did I love this book?

Few Americans remember the Marshall Plan that helped make western Europe the economic powerhouse it is today. Fewer still remember the man behind the Marshall Plan, who led the U.S. military during World War II, and later became Secretary of State. Pogue’s four-volume biography isn’t your usual military biography with a long recitation of battles, dates, and minutiae about guns and ships. It’s about how an obscure career officer who never went to West Point became the confidant of two presidents and the mentor of a future one, Dwight Eisenhower (who later betrayed him during the Trump-like McCarthy era). When political integrity is in short supply, Pogue reminds us of a time when a politically astute general kept his.

By Forrest C. Pogue,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked George C. Marshall, Vol. 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, George Catlett Marshall (1880-1959) attended the Virginia Military Institute and was named VMI’s First Captain in his senior year, because of his character and sense of duty more than scholastic achievement. In 1902, while a second lieutenant, Marshall married Elizabeth Carter Coles. During World War I, Marshall demonstrated his superior skill for organization and leadership on the staff of General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in France. Between World Wars I and II, Marshall served as Pershing’s aide in Washington, DC, with troops in China, as an instructor at Fort Benning, Georgia,…


Book cover of Inventing George Washington: America's Founder, in Myth and Memory

Don Glickstein Why did I love this book?

If there’s a common trait of Republican and Democratic politicians, it’s that George Washington is always fair game to hijack. We’re told that Washington was devoutly religious or that he was a deist; that he was a true democrat or a slave-holding aristocrat; that he single-handedly smote the British; that he believed in states’ rights or supported a strong federal government. Washington is anything you want him to be. Lengel, who helped edit the Washington papers, begs to differ. His short book tackles many of the Washington myths with an easy writing style for general readers and endnotes for those who want to double-check his debunking.

By Edward G. Lengel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inventing George Washington as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Lengel’s Washington is the archetypal American soldier—an amateur citizen in arms who struggles to learn an unfamiliar and demanding craft on the job....Outstanding.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Glorious Struggle

Editor-in-Chief of the Washington Papers Project  Edward G. Lengel delivers an entertaining and erudite history of America's Founding Father. In Inventing George Washington, a captivating counterpart to Lengel’s General George Washington: A Military Life, the historian looks at Washington’s life and writings, at the creation of his mythos, and at what his legacy means for our nation and ourselves.


Book cover of Cleopatra: A Life

Don Glickstein Why did I love this book?

Cleopatra a politician? Why is a book about her on this list? She was Shakespearean and Liz Taylor in the movies and a sultry siren. What more is there to know? Pulitzer-winner Stacy Schiff mined the distant evidence and built a poetic portrait of Cleopatra based on what we know of her reality: “A capable, clear-eyed sovereign, she knew how to build a fleet, suppress an insurrection, control a currency, alleviate a famine.”

By Stacy Schiff,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Cleopatra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt.Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as…


Book cover of Stilwell and the American Experience in China: 1911-1945

Don Glickstein Why did I love this book?

General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, the American liaison to Chiang Kai-Shek’s China during World War II, was the opposite of a politician. Blunt, profane, disrespectful, and sarcastic—he called Chiang the “peanut”—Stilwell was incapable of being politic, which makes Tuchman’s book the ultimate political biography. Like many great biographers, including three of the five authors on this list, Tuchman came to history from journalism or publishing, not from academia, something she felt was an asset in helping her write in a style that produced both a Pulitzer and best sellers.

By Barbara W. Tuchman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Stilwell and the American Experience in China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Vinegar Joe' Stilwell, the general who was the American commander in the China-Burma-India theatre of World War II, had a deep love of China. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman, combines a fascinating narrative of America's relationship with China from the fall of the Manchu Dynasty through to the rise of Mao Tse-Tung with an intimate biography of Vinegar Joe. Stilwell loved China deeply, spoke its languages and understood its people as few Westerners have. Tuchman traces his life from his first visit during the 1911 Revolution through the Second World War to his confrontation with…


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A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

Book cover of A Beggar's Bargain

Jan Sikes Author Of The Edge of Too Late

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Lover of Music Astral Traveler Tarot Reader Grandmother

Jan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Historical Fiction Post WW2.

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father’s dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.
Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time—a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an alternative proposition—marry his unwanted daughter, Sara Beth, in exchange for a two-year extension. Out of options, money, and time, Layken agrees to the bargain.

Now, he has two years to make a living off the land while he shares his life with a stranger. If he fails at either, he’ll lose it all.

A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

What is this book about?

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father's dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.

Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time-a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an…


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