100 books like A Promised Land

By Barack Obama,

Here are 100 books that A Promised Land fans have personally recommended if you like A Promised Land. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth

Lindsay M. Chervinsky Author Of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution

From my list on American presidents who left their mark on history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by power and how people use it. From the time I was tiny, I’ve loved reading about how people left their fingerprint on history, and boy, do presidents leave their mark. Given these interests, it’s unsurprising that I’ve been my career this far examining how early presidents crafted the executive branch. The president’s oversized role in American life is also at the heart of my podcast work (I cohost The Past, The Promise, The Presidency with the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. Each season we explore a different element of the presidency and its relationship to history). In my future scholarship, I plan to continue this exploration long after George Washington left office. Stay tuned for more, and in the meantime enjoy these great reads!

Lindsay's book list on American presidents who left their mark on history

Lindsay M. Chervinsky Why did Lindsay love this book?

There are so many fantastic new biographies of Ulysses S. Grant. U.S. Grant is particularly good for a one-volume biography. It’s an incredibly fair treatment and does a great job of showing Grant’s cultural importance as a symbol for national reunification after the war. Waugh also demonstrates why Grant has been underappreciated by previous historians and generations, and why he deserves more recognition.

By Joan Waugh,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked U. S. Grant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the time of his death, Ulysses S. Grant was the most famous person in America, considered by most citizens to be equal in stature to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Yet today his monuments are rarely visited, his military reputation is overshadowed by that of Robert E. Lee, and his presidency is permanently mired at the bottom of historical rankings. In an insightful blend of biography and cultural history, Joan Waugh traces Grant's shifting national and international reputation, illuminating the role of memory in our understanding of American history. Using a wide range of written and visual sources--newspaper articles,…


Book cover of Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government

Lindsay M. Chervinsky Author Of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution

From my list on American presidents who left their mark on history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by power and how people use it. From the time I was tiny, I’ve loved reading about how people left their fingerprint on history, and boy, do presidents leave their mark. Given these interests, it’s unsurprising that I’ve been my career this far examining how early presidents crafted the executive branch. The president’s oversized role in American life is also at the heart of my podcast work (I cohost The Past, The Promise, The Presidency with the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. Each season we explore a different element of the presidency and its relationship to history). In my future scholarship, I plan to continue this exploration long after George Washington left office. Stay tuned for more, and in the meantime enjoy these great reads!

Lindsay's book list on American presidents who left their mark on history

Lindsay M. Chervinsky Why did Lindsay love this book?

So much of the early presidency took place out of “office hours.” Social events where women were present were considered apolitical and non-partisan, but of course, women had just as many opinions about politics back in the Early Republic as they do today! Instead, these events served as helpful venues for brokering deals, arranging political marriages, and securing appointments for friends and family members. Wives were also essential partners in campaigns and coalition-building once politicians were in office. You can’t understand the early presidents without understanding the broader social context as well.

By Catherine Allgor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Parlor Politics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Catherine Allgor describes the various ways genteel elite women during the first decades of the 19th century used ""social events"" and the ""private sphere"" to establish the national capital and to build the extraofficial structures so sorely needed in the infant federal government.


Book cover of Theodore Rex

Lindsay M. Chervinsky Author Of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution

From my list on American presidents who left their mark on history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by power and how people use it. From the time I was tiny, I’ve loved reading about how people left their fingerprint on history, and boy, do presidents leave their mark. Given these interests, it’s unsurprising that I’ve been my career this far examining how early presidents crafted the executive branch. The president’s oversized role in American life is also at the heart of my podcast work (I cohost The Past, The Promise, The Presidency with the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. Each season we explore a different element of the presidency and its relationship to history). In my future scholarship, I plan to continue this exploration long after George Washington left office. Stay tuned for more, and in the meantime enjoy these great reads!

Lindsay's book list on American presidents who left their mark on history

Lindsay M. Chervinsky Why did Lindsay love this book?

Theodore Roosevelt is another presidential figure that has received a great deal of scholarly attention. I ultimately selected Theodore Rex for two reasons. First, it’s one of the few books that focuses solely on the presidency, meaning it offers an unrivaled, in-depth examination of his years in office. Second, it’s such a page-turner. I started reading a specific section to better understand one cabinet interaction and I found myself still reading many pages and many hours later without even realizing it. Morris fully captures TR’s oversized personality in an extraordinarily colorful way.

By Edmund Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Theodore Rex as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A shining portrait of a presciently modern political genius maneuvering in a gilded age of wealth, optimism, excess and American global ascension.”—San Francisco Chronicle

WINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR BIOGRAPHY • “[Theodore Rex] is one of the great histories of the American presidency, worthy of being on a shelf alongside Henry Adams’s volumes on Jefferson and Madison.”—Times Literary Supplement

Theodore Rex is the story—never fully told before—of Theodore Roosevelt’s two world-changing terms as President of the United States. A hundred years before the catastrophe of September 11, 2001, “TR” succeeded to…


Book cover of The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s

Lindsay M. Chervinsky Author Of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution

From my list on American presidents who left their mark on history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by power and how people use it. From the time I was tiny, I’ve loved reading about how people left their fingerprint on history, and boy, do presidents leave their mark. Given these interests, it’s unsurprising that I’ve been my career this far examining how early presidents crafted the executive branch. The president’s oversized role in American life is also at the heart of my podcast work (I cohost The Past, The Promise, The Presidency with the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. Each season we explore a different element of the presidency and its relationship to history). In my future scholarship, I plan to continue this exploration long after George Washington left office. Stay tuned for more, and in the meantime enjoy these great reads!

Lindsay's book list on American presidents who left their mark on history

Lindsay M. Chervinsky Why did Lindsay love this book?

After Eisenhower left office, he was routinely ranked in the bottom ten on the presidential rankings. Now, he’s regularly voted into the top five. This book helps explain why Eisenhower deserves to be at the top, why he left such an indelible mark on the nation, and why the second half of the 20th century was the age of Eisenhower. It’s also beautifully written and a joy to read.

By William Hitchcock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Age of Eisenhower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller, this is the "outstanding" (The Atlantic), insightful, and authoritative account of Dwight Eisenhower's presidency.

Drawing on newly declassified documents and thousands of pages of unpublished material, The Age of Eisenhower tells the story of a masterful president guiding the nation through the great crises of the 1950s, from McCarthyism and the Korean War through civil rights turmoil and Cold War conflicts. This is a portrait of a skilled leader who, despite his conservative inclinations, found a middle path through the bitter partisanship of his era. At home, Eisenhower affirmed the central elements of the New…


Book cover of Obama: An Intimate Portrait

Christina Hawatmeh Author Of The Year Time Stopped: The Global Pandemic in Photos

From my list on to change your view on the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent 10 years building Scopio, which stands for “Scope It Out” to build an accessible platform for anyone, anywhere to tell their story and share their images. I have used technology to change stereotypes and archive historical moments to our everyday imagery. I like to consume information easily and actionably and these are my recommendations! We did that in writing The Year Time Stopped so people can enjoy and get value out of 200 images and stories for the next century.

Christina's book list on to change your view on the world

Christina Hawatmeh Why did Christina love this book?

I am a huge fan of Pete Souza, Obama’s resident photographer. Not only does he show you the day in and day out of the most historically positive president of our time, he continues to this day to educate his audience and show us how a president can be. He also sheds light on some extremely difficult topics like school shootings, and Obama’s historic singing of “amazing grace” while consoling families. This book shows me that anyone can be president and that it's a human’s job because you see his humanity through these photos, not the “superhero” president that historically is how presidents are portrayed that makes us feel somehow separate from them, and unreachable.

By Pete Souza,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Relive the extraordinary Presidency of Barack Obama through White House photographer Pete Souza's behind-the-scenes images and stories in this #1 New York Times bestseller -- with a foreword from the President himself.

During Barack Obama's two terms, Pete Souza was with the President during more crucial moments than anyone else -- and he photographed them all. Souza captured nearly two million photographs of President Obama, in moments highly classified and disarmingly candid. Obama: An Intimate Portrait reproduces more than 300 of Souza's most iconic photographs with fine-art print quality in an oversize collectible format.

Together they document the most consequential…


Book cover of Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama

Ethan Chorin Author Of Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink

From my list on how partisan politics is destroying American foreign policy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent the majority of my 25-year career working across the Middle East and Africa. From 2004-2006, I was one of a small group of American diplomats posted to Libya following the 2003 US deal with Gaddafi. During Libya's 2011 revolution, I returned to Libya as a private citizen to help build and became a witness to the 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi. I am particularly interested in the impact of domestic political warfare on US foreign policy and national security. My work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Salon, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, the Financial Times, and Forbes, among others.

Ethan's book list on how partisan politics is destroying American foreign policy

Ethan Chorin Why did Ethan love this book?

To interpret the Obama administration’s reactions to the outside world, and the Middle East in particular, one must understand the media environment that helped elect him, and ultimately undermine his legacy.

I found this book, by a leading American political commentator, to be a powerful indictment of the mainstream US media (Right and Left), and advance warning of the polarization that accompanied the Benghazi attack and subsequent scandal. 

By Eric Alterman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kabuki Democracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this agenda-setting essay, journalist and historian Eric Alterman explains what is really happening with the Obama presidency. While Obama's many compromises have disappointed liberals, Alterman argues that these concessions are largely due to a political system that is rigged against progressive change. These structural impediments to democracy have made the keeping of Obama's campaign promises all but impossible. Brilliantly blending incisive political analysis with a clear agenda for change, Kabuki Democracy cuts through the cliches of conservative propaganda and lazy mainstream media analysis to demonstrate that genuine "change" will come to America only when people care enough to challenge…


Book cover of The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge

Craig Fehrman Author Of Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote

From my list on written by American presidents.

Why am I passionate about this?

Craig Fehrman spent ten years writing Author in Chief, his book on presidents and the books they wrote. When readers would learn about his research, they'd always ask -- "Are any of them worth reading?" The answer turned out to be a definitive yes! Presidential books have won elections, redefined careers, and shaped America's place in the world. It's easy to eye-roll at modern political volumes, but for most of American history, books have been our popular culture -- and presidential books have changed our nation. Here are a few of the books that will reward readers today. 

Craig's book list on written by American presidents

Craig Fehrman Why did Craig love this book?

This book is the forgotten classic of presidential writing—a blockbuster in its own time and a model for how modern political memoirs could be better. Coolidge was a stunningly good writer. (The New York Times called him “the most literary man who has occupied the White House since 1865.”) In his autobiography, he included many memorable stories, including one about his son, Calvin Jr., and his summer job picking tobacco. “If my father was president,” one of the laborers told him, “I would not work in a tobacco field.” “If my father were your father,” Calvin Jr. replied, “you would.” Yet the most memorable passage comes later, when the president describes Calvin Jr.’s shocking death. “In his suffering,” the most powerful man in the world wrote, “he was asking me to make him well. I could not.”

By Calvin Coolidge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amity Shlaes reclaimed a misunderstood president with her bestselling biography Coolidge. Now she presents an expanded and annotated edition of that president's masterful memoir.

The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge is as unjustly neglected as Calvin Coolidge himself. The man caricatured as 'Silent Cal' was a gifted writer. The New York Times called him 'the most literary man who has occupied the White House since 1865.' One biographer wrote that Coolidge's autobiography 'displays a literary grace that is lacking in most such books by former presidents.'

The Coolidge who emerges in these pages is a model of character, principle, and humility…


Book cover of George Washington

Bill Thompson Author Of Callie

From my list on kick off a great series.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my decades in the corporate world, I traveled extensively and spent months in England, where I became a devoted Anglophile. I am privileged to have met Queen Elizabeth II and Philip, and to have attended a knighting at Westminster. English history fascinates me, but so do gripping spy thrillers occurring in European and Middle Eastern settings. There’s nothing better than finishing a satisfying first book in a series—fiction or not--and deciding to ration the remaining ones so you can savor the experience a little longer! 

Bill's book list on kick off a great series

Bill Thompson Why did Bill love this book?

Although the books in this series are not released in chronological order, I found it helpful to begin at the beginning, with George Washington. Each of these books is well-written and provides a concise way to learn about the significant events that occurred. Several times I’ve finished a book in this series and then selected an in-depth biography to further my knowledge about the ones I found most interesting. Though occasionally laborious reading, the insight gained from a brief look at each president’s life is worth every word.

By James MacGregor Burns, Susan Dunn, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A premier leadership scholar and an eighteenth-century expert define the special contributions and qualifications of our first president

Revolutionary hero, founding president, and first citizen of the young republic, George Washington was the most illustrious public man of his time, a man whose image today is the result of the careful grooming of his public persona to include the themes of character, self-sacrifice, and destiny.

As Washington sought to interpret the Constitution's assignment of powers to the executive branch and to establish precedent for future leaders, he relied on his key advisers and looked to form consensus as the guiding…


Book cover of Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had a long career as a professor of organizational behavior. My view is that the most ignored and undervalued aspect of leadership is the development and implementation of political skills. Any leader who claims, “I don’t do politics” or “I’m not political,” is not serving themselves very well and, in fact, may be setting themselves up for failure. Whether in organizational life, in the sphere of public policy, or in daily life, we need to overcome the obstacles that impede our capacity to implement agendas and ideas and achieve our aspirations. Dreamers who lack political skills remain dreamers, not leaders. 

Samuel's book list on books for leaders who need to master the political skills to move ideas and innovations and overcome resistance

Samuel Bacharach Why did Samuel love this book?

Any book by Robert Caro is a worthy read. His quadrilogy on LBJ is a study of the ultimate, driven pragmatist.

Johnson, in pursuit of his agenda, was the epitome of the deal-maker, sweet-talker, persuader, and sometime-bully. In the work of Caro, Johnson may not be the most lovable of leaders, but certainly, he ranks among one of the most calculating and determined. He understood that achieving consensus, while essential, is not everything.

Furthermore, he had an appreciation that the appropriate use of power is a leadership skill. With that framework, Johnson had an innate understanding of the structural and legal limitations of the use of power. He recognized the rules of the Senate and realized the limitations of the presidency. Within these constraints, he was indeed the master of the influence game and truly the “Master of the Senate.”

There are lessons to learn and warnings to heed for…

By Robert A. Caro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Master of the Senate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The greatest biography of our era ... Essential reading for those who want to comprehend power and politics' The Times

Robert A. Caro's legendary, multi-award-winning biography of US President Lyndon Johnson is a uniquely riveting and revelatory account of power, political genius and the shaping of twentieth-century America.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Master of the Senate takes Johnson's story through one of its most remarkable periods: his twelve years, from 1949 to 1960, in the United States Senate. Once the most august and revered body in politics, by the time Johnson arrived the Senate…


Book cover of Grover Cleveland, Again!: A Treasury of American Presidents

Rod Martinez Author Of Powerfully Perplexing Presidential Profiles

From my list on American history presidential fun fact trivia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with American Presidents since I was ten and visited the Hall of Presidents attraction at Disney World years ago. That one visit opened my mind to American History and sealed my fate as a collector of American History facts. Later in life, I turned into an author of middle grade and young adult, but I knew I’d have to write a book on Presidential facts. I am glad to say that it was a well-received book in libraries and schools and I encourage young readers and hopeful writers in schools to consider writing as a passion and to teach others in the written word about that one thing they are into more than anything else. 

Rod's book list on American history presidential fun fact trivia

Rod Martinez Why did Rod love this book?

Author Ken Burns is great at non-fiction and this book is full of great art, anecdotes, and fun stories about the men in the oval office. The pace and feel are like that of a graphic novel, which would be great for younger readers – but chock full of great stories and facts for a book report. 

By Ken Burns, Gerald Kelley (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grover Cleveland, Again! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

The instant New York Times bestseller that's perfect for President's Day!

A gorgeous collection of American presidents filled with fun facts and sparkling with personality, from nonfiction master Ken Burns.
 
This special treasury from America's beloved documentarian Ken Burns brings the presidents to life for our nation's children. Each president is given a lushly illustrated spread with curated stories and information to give readers of all ages a comprehensive view of the varied and fascinating characters who have led our nation (with the exception of Grover Cleveland--the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms--who gets two spreads!). A must-have for…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in presidential biography, Barack Obama, and politics?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about presidential biography, Barack Obama, and politics.

Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography
Barack Obama Explore 4 books about Barack Obama
Politics Explore 734 books about politics