The best books about the White House 📚

Browse the best books on the White House as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison

A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison

By Paul Jennings

Why this book?

Paul Jennings' memoirs are a vital voice to understanding this historical epoch. On August 24, 1814, he was present when Dolley Madison ordered the painting of George Washington to be taken off the wall before evacuating the White House. Jennings was also the last person out of the White House before the British military arrived. Were it not for Jennings, we would not know that an innkeeper cursed Dolley Madison and kicked her out of her hotel because she was angry that her husband had been fighting prior to the burning of the White House. His reminiscences of life as…

From the list:

The best books in their own words from the War of 1812

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Book cover of When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington

When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington

By Peter Snow

Why this book?

Peter Snow is amongst the greatest historical storytellers, able to produce driving narratives that bring characters both great and small to life and make sense of complex events. This book is the most comprehensive and riveting account of one of the most memorable, yet misunderstood, events of the War of 1812.

From the list:

The best and most recent books on the War of 1812

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Book cover of First Ladies Fact Book: The Childhoods, Courtships, Marriages, Campaigns, Accomplishments, and Legacies of Every First Lady

First Ladies Fact Book: The Childhoods, Courtships, Marriages, Campaigns, Accomplishments, and Legacies of Every First Lady

By Bill Harris, Laura Ross

Why this book?

This is a great resource if you’re just wanting to brush up on your First Ladies trivia or if you’re needing a starting point in your research. It contains photos, quotes, and delicious details. Although it’s more of a book for grown-ups, it can be used to explore First Ladies further with your child after reading a picture book.

From the list:

The best children’s books about fabulous First Ladies

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Book cover of Mrs. Lincoln: A Life

Mrs. Lincoln: A Life

By Catherine Clinton

Why this book?

While Mary Lincoln (although we often call her "Mary Todd Lincoln," she preferred "Mary Lincoln," "Mrs. Abraham Lincoln," or the unassuming "Mrs. A. Lincoln") has been the subject of several biographies, this is my favorite, and one which I always used as my first resource when checking a fact or looking for a reference about Mary Lincoln. It's readable, well-sourced, and sympathetic toward its subject without veering into hagiography or being overly indulgent of Mary's foibles.
From the list:

The best nonfiction about First Lady Mary Lincoln

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Book cover of Behind the Scenes: Or Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House

Behind the Scenes: Or Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House

By Elizabeth Keckley

Why this book?

The stars had to align perfectly for this autobiography to have been written. Born into slavery in the American South, Elizabeth Keckley learned to read and write at a time when laws forbade it. Her skills as a seamstress allowed her to buy her freedom and later become Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker. She also became a close confidant of the First Lady, gaining an unfiltered view of life in the White House during one of the most crucial times in our nation’s history. After Lincoln’s assassination, Keckley published this autobiography and was widely criticized for relaying intimate conversations and private…

From the list:

The best biographies of bold women

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Book cover of Just Being Jackie

Just Being Jackie

By Margaret Cardillo, Julia Denos

Why this book?

This is the perfect companion book to my book When Jackie Saved Grand Central. Both books fill out the story of two important buildings that she restored - The White House and Grand Central Terminal. In this story, you learn more about Jackie as a child. And I’m IN LOVE with the illustrations! Denos captured Jackie’s beauty and strength in drawings that remind me of fashion sketches.

From the list:

The best children’s books about fabulous First Ladies

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