Getting Back to Basics

As you might have noticed from the inconsistent posts, I’ve been a bit distracted lately. We welcomed a new baby and I started a new job and life has just done what life does from time to time. 

 That said, I’ve been thinking about how to get back on track. A big obstacle for me has been the paralysis that comes from too many options. I have accumulated a large presidential library and it can be overwhelming to make a decision with so many fascinating avenues open to me. 

 Thankfully, I was inspired by a recent article about creating a reading plan. It reminded me that the most productive experience I’ve had on this journey was my first trip through the presidents from start to finish.

 With that in mind, I decided to go back to the chronological plan, but with a little twist this time. I’m going to read the presidents, but I’m going to go backwards this time. I’m going to read two books on each president and see what emerges as I go back through our history. 

 I’ve included the plan as I have it so far. In a few cases, I have to find a suitable option or two, but this gives me a path forward, which, I hope, will bring me back to regular posting. 

 So here we are: 

Donald Trump

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward

Trump’s First Year by Michael Nelson

Barack Obama

Obama: An Oral History by Brian Abrams

The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment - Ed. By Julian Zelizer

George W. Bush

George W. Bush by James Mann

The Bush Tragedy by Jacob Weisberg

Bill Clinton

The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s by Gil Troy

First in his Class by David Maraniss

George H.W. Bush

The Last Republicans by Mark Updegrove

George HW Bush by Timothy Naftali

Ronald Reagan

Reagan: The Life by HW Brands

The Brink: President Reagan and the Nuclear War Scare of 1983 by Mark Ambinder

Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce: New Hampshire’s Favorite Son by Peter Wallner

Franklin Pierce: Martyr for the Union by Peter Wallner

Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore: Biography of a President by Robert Rayback

Need a second. Help!

Zachary Taylor

The Presidencies of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore by Elbert Smith

Zachary Taylor: Soldier in the White House by Holman Hamilton

Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson and the Rights of Man by Dumas Malone

Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy by Annette Gordon-Reed

John Adams

John Adams Volume Two by Page Smith

Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson by Gordon Wood

George Washington

The Presidency of George Washington by Forest McDonald

Blood of Tyrants: George Washington and the Forging of the Presidency by Logan Beirne

It’s a lot, but I’m excited to see where this takes me and how the backwards perspective shapes my findings. 

Let me know what you think! And if you can offer any suggestions to fill the few gaps I have, I’d appreciate the help.