Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
E-Mail: bergen.anthony@gmail.com
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Posts tagged "Library"
Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hi Mr. Bergen-I am starting to collect books on the civil war era. How many books on the era do you have and is there a point where they get redundnant and you can't get much more from out of them? Thank YOU!
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Wow, I don’t really know how many books I have that focus on the Civil War or that era.  If I were forced to make a guess, I’d say that I probably have about 90 or 100 books on the Civil War.  Most of them focus on specific aspects of the Civil War or the crises that led to the war or the important individuals and events.  Few of the books try to tell the complete history of the war and that’s good because it really can’t be done in one volume.  So, if you were to dig through my Civil War library, you’d find a lot of biographies of people like William Tecumseh Sherman and Jefferson Davis, as well as books like William J. Cooper’s recent released We Have the War Upon Is: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861 (BOOKKINDLE) which takes a detailed look at the country from Lincoln’s election to the firing on Fort Sumter as President Buchanan’s lame duck administration does nothing while states begin to secede from the Union.

I don’t think they get redundant at all.  Sure, you’ll cover some common ground, but each writer tells the stories in a different way, spotlight different people or events, and bring the history to us in their own voice.  I actually prefer to read several books on the same subject because it really drives home the history, breaks through any potential biases or inconsistencies of individual authors, and helps complete the story.

I never think of common history that I read from different authors as redundancies.  It’s more like a validation of the information.  I truly believe that you can always get more out of a story, whether it’s through research that reveals new information, or the perspective of the writer, or just the way that something is written.  Just as an example, if an editor asked me to write a different story every day for a week but that I had to detail Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in the story as the centerpiece each day, I could easily do it by shifting the narrative or approaching the details a little differently or with a totally different voice.  That’s how I look at multiple books about a common subject.

In my last post, I mentioned how I would love to have an opportunity to dig through the Vatican’s ancient library as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s personal library.  I also mentioned that I had read something about how, after his papal election in 2005, the new Pope had his “few thousand” books carefully moved from his previous home into the Papal Apartments of the Apostolic Apartments where they were organized exactly as they had previously been.

Well, I would definitely love to visit the Vatican’s library and I was correct that Pope Benedict XVI was a bibliophile who had his books moved just as I had suggested.  Where I was wrong was in calling myself a bibliophile in comparison to the Pope.  Those “few thousand” books in Benedict’s personal library are more along the lines of OVER 20,000 BOOKS!  I’m not worried to call myself a bibliophile if that’s the word used to describe Pope Benedict XVI’s love of books.  That’s pretty crazy — 20,000 BOOKS!  I was pretty proud of my personal library of about 1,800 to 2,000 books, but the Pope has ten times the books that I have!  And that’s just his personal, private library of books that he owns himself!  He also has access to the Vatican’s 2,000-year-old collection.  Is there any way for me to turn things around and become Pope now?  I’ve broken a few Commandments and possessed some of those deadly sins, including envy in this post alone, but I wouldn’t be a bad choice for Pope.  I’ve been abstinent-ish (at times).

Oh, and although I said in my other post that I could totally understand the Pope’s obsession for keeping his library organized exactly how it had been in his previous home when he moved them to the Papal Apartments, how can he possibly keep track of which order over 20,000 books were supposed to be in?  I wonder if the Pope uses the Dewey Decimal System.

Since I got quite a few requests, here is the list of the books that I have on the bookshelves above the desk in my office.  For the most part, these are my really essential and/or favorite books.  Many are books that I just like to have nearby for quick reference, if necessary.  You’ll also find that one individual President is prominently featured, unsurprisingly.

Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain (2008, Harper Perennial)
Maryanne Wolf
Order

Campaigns: A Century of Presidential Races (2001, DK Publishing)
From the Photo Archives of The New York Times
Order

The American President: The Human Drama of Our Nation’s Highest Office (1999, Riverhead Books)
Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr./Philip B. Kunhardt, III/Peter W. Kunhardt
Order

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (2002, Little, Brown)
Sixteenth Edition
Order

Mr. President: The Human Side of America’s Chief Executives (1998, Time-Life Books)
David Rubel
Order

"To the Best of My Ability": The American Presidency, First Edition (2000, DK Publishing)
General Editor: James M. McPherson/Editor: David Rubel
Order

Star-Spangled Men: America’s Ten Worst Presidents (1998, Touchstone)
Nathan Miller
Order

Presidential Anecdotes (1996, Oxford University Press)
Paul F. Boller, Jr.
Order

Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush (2004, Oxford University Press)
Paul F. Boller, Jr.
Order

Presidential Inaugurations (2001, Harcourt)
Paul F. Boller, Jr.
Order

The Presidency of Franklin Pierce (1991, University Press of Kansas)
Larry Gara
Order

Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House (2004, Wall Street Journal Books)
Edited by James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal, and Leonard Leo, The Federalist Society
Order

Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times (1999, Touchstone)
Helen Thomas
Order

Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President: Wit and Wisdom from the Front Row at the White House (2002, Scribner)
Helen Thomas
Order

Presidential Temples: How Memorials and Libraries Shape Public Memory (2005, University Press of Kansas)
Benjamin Hufbauer
Order

The Modern American Presidency (2003, University Press of Kansas)
Lewis L. Gould
Order

Inside The White House: The Hidden Lives of the Modern Presidents and the Secrets of the World’s Most Powerful Institution (1995, Pocket Books)
Ronald Kessler
Order

They Also Ran: The Story of the Men Who Were Defeated for the Presidency (1968, Signet)
Irving Stone
Order

Franklin Pierce: Young Hickory of the Granite Hills (1958, University of Pennsylvania Press)
Roy Franklin Nichols
Order

The Final Days (1976, Touchstone)
Bob Woodward/Carl Bernstein
Order

Franklin Pierce, 1804-1869: Chronology-Documents-Bibliographical Aids (1968, Oceana Publications)
Edited by Irving J. Sloan
Order

Lincoln: A Novel (1984, Vintage)
Gore Vidal
Order

Hail to the Chief: The Making and Unmaking of American Presidents (1996, Oxford University Press)
Robert Dallek
Order

Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges Into the Presidency (2004, Portable Press)
The Bathroom Readers’ Hysterical Society
Order

The Mortal Presidency: Illness and Anguish in the White House (1992, Basic Books) Robert E. Gilbert
Order

Which President Killed a Man?: Tantalizing Trivia and Fun Facts About Our Chief Executives and First Ladies (2003, Contemporary Books)
James Humes
Order

Presidential Ambition: Gaining Power at Any Cost (1999, HarperPerennial)
Richard Shenkman
Order

After the White House: Former Presidents as Private Citizens (2004, Palgrave Macmillan) Max J. Skidmore
Order

A Call To America: Inspiring Quotations from the Presidents of the United States (2002, Gramercy Books)
Edited by Bryan Curtis
Order

Best Little Stories From the White House, Second Edition (2005, Cumberland House)
C. Brian Kelly
Order

Fraternity: A Journey in Search of Five Presidents (2004, Crown)
Bob Greene
Order

Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents (2004, Quirk)
Cormac O’Brien
Order

Secret Lives of the First Ladies (2005, Quirk)
Cormac O’Brien
Order

Who Shot The President? The Death of John F. Kennedy (1988, Random House)
Judy Donnelly
(This is a book for kids which is probably the first Presidents book I ever received and got me into this obsession; I have no idea where you can find it)

Who’s Buried In Grant’s Tomb? A Tour of Presidential Gravesites (2003, PublicAffairs)
Brian Lamb (with Richard Norton Smith and Douglas Brinkley)
Order

The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction (2005, Writer’s Digest Books)
Brian Kiteley
Order

The 4 A.M. Breakthrough: Unconventional Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction (2008, Writer’s Digest Books)
Brian Kiteley
Order

The New College Latin & English Dictionary (1966, Amsco)
John C. Traupman
Order

English Words from Latin and Greek Elements (1965, The University of Arizona Press) Donald M. Ayers
Order

Webster’s Spanish Dictionary (2000, Random House)
Donald F. Solá
Order

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (2006, HarperCollins)
Order

2009 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition (2008, Writer’s Digest Books)
Edited by Robert Lee Brewer
Order

The Rose That Grew From Concrete (1999, Pocket Books)
Tupac Shakur
Order

From Mount Vernon to Crawford: A History of the Presidents and Their Retreats (2005, Hyperion)
Kenneth T. Walsh
Order

Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings, Reproduction of 1946 Edition (2001, Da Capo Press)
Edited by Roy P. Basler
Order

The Deaths of the Popes (2004, McFarland & Company)
Wendy J. Reardon
Order

Lyndon Baines Johnson, Late a President of the United States: Memorial Tributes Delivered In Congress (1973, United States Government Printing Office)
(This was published by Congress after LBJ’s death; I’m not sure if it’s publicly available.  The copy I bought somehow had made it all the way to a great independent bookstore in Sacramento from the office of Patsy Mink, a former Member of the House of Representatives)

The White House Tapes: Eavesdropping on the President, Book & CD Set (2003, The New Press)
Edited by John Prados
Order

The White House: An Illustrated History (2003, Scholastic)
Catherine O’Neill Grace
Order

The Civil War: The Assassination - Death of the President (1987, Time-Life Books) Champ Clark and the Editors of Time-Life Books
Order

The Presidents: Their Lives, Families and Great Decisions as told by The Saturday Evening Post (1989, The Curtis Publishing Company)
The Saturday Evening Post
Order

World Book of America’s Presidents, Vol. 1: The President’s World (1982, World Book Encyclopedia)
World Book Staff
Order

World Book of America’s Presidents, Vol. 2: Portraits of the Presidents (1982, World Book Encyclopedia)
World Book Staff
Order

The History of the American Presidency (1998, JG Press)
John Bowman
Order

The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Fifth Edition (2002, Gramercy Books)
William A. DeGregorio
Order

Presidential Factbook (1999, Random House)
Joseph Nathan Kane
Order

Life and Death of James A. Garfield (1881, J.S. Ogilvie & Company)
J.S. Ogilvie
(I found this in an antique shop in Georgetown, Texas; it’s a first edition copy from 1881 that was rushed into print immediately after President Garfield died of wounds suffered in an assassination attempt. At 130 years old, this is my oldest book by a good 40 years)

Looking For Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon (2008, Knopf)
Philip B. Kunhardt, III/Peter W. Kunhardt/Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr.
Order

The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency, 1963-1969 (1971, Holt, Rinehart and Winston)
Lyndon Baines Johnson
Order

Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973 (1998, Oxford University Press)
Robert Dallek
Order

A Very Human President (1975, Norton)
Jack Valenti
Order

The Triumph & Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: The White House Years (1991, Simon & Schuster)
Joseph A. Califano, Jr.
Order

Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (1991, St. Martin’s Griffin)
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Order

Reaching For Glory: Lyndon Johnson’s Secret White House Tapes, 1964-1965 (2001, Simon & Schuster)
Edited by Michael Beschloss
Order

The Path To Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1 (1990, Vintage)
Robert Caro
Order

Means of Ascent: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 2 (1991, Vintage)
Robert Caro
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Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 3 (2003, Vintage)
Robert Caro
Order

LBJ: The White House Years (1990, Abrams)
Harry Middleton
Order

Mathew Brady (2004, JG Press)
Barry Pritzker
Order

Twenty Days (1993, Castle Books)
Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr.
Order

Franklin Pierce, Volume I: New Hampshire’s Favorite Son (Hardcover) (2004, Plaidswede Publishing)
Peter A. Wallner
Order

Franklin Pierce, Volume II: Martyr For The Union (Hardcover) (2007, Plaidswede Publishing)
Peter A. Wallner
Order

Franklin Pierce, Volume I: New Hampshire’s Favorite Son (Paperback) (2004, Plaidswede Publishing)
Peter A. Wallner
Order

Franklin Pierce, Volume II: Martyr For The Union (Paperback) (2007, Plaidswede Publishing)
Peter A. Wallner
Order

When The Cheering Stopped: The Last Years of Woodrow Wilson (1982, Time-Life Books)
Gene Smith
Order

Write It When I’m Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford (2007, Putnam)
Thomas M. DeFrank
Order

Jefferson: Writings (1984, The Library of America)
The Library of America
Order

Hail to the Chiefs: Presidential Mischief, Morales, & Malarkey from George W. to George W. (2003, The Permanent Press)
Barbara Holland
Order

The Thirty-First of March: An Intimate Portrait of Lyndon Johnson’s Final Days In Office (2005, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Horace Busby
Order

My Brother Lyndon (1970, Cowles Book Company)
Sam Houston Johnson (edited by Enrique Hank Lopez)
Order

The Death of a President: November 1963 (1967, Harper & Row)
William Manchester
Order

The Making of the President, 1960 (1961, Atheneum Publishers)
Theodore H. White
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The Making of the President, 1964 (1965, Atheneum Publishers)
Theodore H. White
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The Making of the President, 1972 (1973, Atheneum Publishers)
Theodore H. White
Order