Based on a decade of research and reporting, Author in Chief tells the story of America’s presidents as authors—and offers a delightful new window into the public and private lives of our highest leaders.
Most Americans are familiar with Abraham Lincoln’s famous words in the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation. Yet few can name the work that helped him win the presidency: his published collection of speeches entitled Political Debates between Hon. Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln labored in secret to get his book ready for the 1860 election, tracking down newspaper transcripts, editing them carefully for fairness, and hunting for a printer who would meet his specifications. Political Debates sold fifty thousand copies—the rough equivalent of half a million books in today’s market—and it reveals something about Lincoln’s presidential ambitions. But it also reveals something about his heart and mind. When voters asked about his beliefs, Lincoln liked to point them to his book.
In Craig Fehrman’s groundbreaking work of history, Author in Chief, the story of America’s presidents and their books opens a rich new window into presidential biography. From volumes lost to history—Calvin Coolidge’s Autobiography, which was one of the most widely discussed titles of 1929—to ones we know and love—Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father, which was very nearly never published—Fehrman unearths countless insights about the presidents through their literary works.
Presidential books have made an enormous impact on American history, catapulting their authors to the national stage and even turning key elections. Beginning with Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, the first presidential book to influence a campaign, and John Adams’s Autobiography, the first score-settling presidential memoir, Author in Chief draws on newly uncovered information—including never-before-published letters from Andrew Jackson, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan—to cast fresh light on the private drives and self-doubts that fueled our nation’s leaders.
We see Teddy Roosevelt as a vulnerable first-time author, struggling to write the book that would become a classic of American history. We see Reagan painstakingly revising Where’s the Rest of Me?, a forgotten memoir in which he sharpened his sunny political image. We see Donald Trump negotiating the deal for The Art of the Deal, the volume that made him synonymous with business savvy. Alongside each of these authors, we also glimpse the everyday Americans who read them.
Combining the narrative felicity of a journalist with the rigorous scholarship of a historian, Fehrman delivers a feast for history lovers, book lovers, and everybody curious about a behind-the-scenes look at our presidents.
Craig Fehrman is a journalist and historian who has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He lives in Indiana with his wife and children. Author in Chief is his first book.
Mom's Choice Award
While Dad tucks her in, a little girl named Grace calmly recounts her day—which was anything but calm. She had a tantrum (because of some injustices involving a purple shirt and breakfast cereal) and was banished to her bedroom before deciding to run away. Understanding that kids have ups and downs, Grace's mom wisely gave her daughter the space and time she needed to reach her own decision to return home—to open arms.
The Day I Ran Away amusingly captures Grace’s mutable moods and childlike logic. Warm, humorous digital paintings offer fun details to keep little listeners busy. Kids can compare the bedtime and daytime scenes and try to figure out how Grace got that purple paw-print on her cheek—and when it got washed away. They can mimic Grace’s facial expressions or copy her poses for some soothing bedtime yoga. And of course, they can create a safe place to run away to when the injustices of Pre-K existence become too much to bear. A pop-up tent in the yard and the haven beneath the dining room table are excellent run-away destinations, as long as you come home for dinner.
In 2017 The Day I ran Away (April 2017) and No More Noisy Nights (Fall 2017)were published by Flashlight Press! The Day I Ran Away won a Gold Mom's Choice award. No More Noisy Nights was picked by Netlix producers to have a cameo appearance in season 2 of their show, Easy.
I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana with my husband Keith and one crazy cat. My children, Evan (29) and Beth (27) were always able to talk me into buying them a book. There are books everywhere in this house of readers-on bookshelves, on tables, in boxes in the basement, even in the bathroom.