Reading About The Founders

I gave a speech today on the UCLA campus.  I was not speaking to young students, but rather, to a group of about 30 or so professionals.  My topic was the Founding Fathers and afterwards a gentleman from that group approached me and asked me what I would consider to be some of the better biographies that touch on the Founders.

I’ve read quite a few the last several years, some fair, some not so engaging, but most reasonably good.  Here is a quick list of the better volumes for those of you who may be interested.

For Benjamin Franklin:

  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
  • Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

For George Washington:

  • Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
  • 1776 by David McCullough
  • His Excellency by Joseph J. Ellis
  • Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
  • George Washington on Leadership by Richard Brookhiser
  • George Washington the First President by James MacGregor Burns & Susan Dunn

For John Adams:

  • John Adams by David McCullough
  • John Adams: A Life by John Ferling

For Thomas Jefferson:

  • Jefferson’s Demons by Michael Knox Beran
  • American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis

For James Madison:

  • James Madison: The Fourth President by Garry Wills
  • James Madison and the Making of America by Kevin Gutzman
  • James Madison by Sydney Howard Gay
  • James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic by Jack Rakove

For Alexander Hamilton:

  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  • Alexander Hamilton, American by Richard Brookhiser
  • Alexander Hamilton: A Life by Willard Sterne Randall

 That should keep everybody busy as it’s kept me for the past several years.


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