Print ISBN: 978-1-63700-363-3
# of Pages: 800
# of Volumes: 2
Print List Price: $195
e-ISBN: 978-1-63700-364-0
eBook User Price: $195
Free Online Access
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American Presidents

Editor, Robert P. Watson, Professor of American Studies, Lynn University
August 2022


This updated fifth edition of American Presidents presents essays on the life and politics of each U.S. president, in chronological order from George Washington to Joe Biden. In the two and a quarter centuries since its inception, the U.S. presidency has survived controversy, scandal, resignation, civil war, and assassination. Every individual who has assumed the title of president has left a mark, for good or ill, on American history. American Presidents examines the strengths and weaknesses, the success and failures of each chief executive.

This title provides detailed information into the lives of every U.S. president. In describing the personal and political events surrounding each president, it offers readers a comprehensive view of U.S. history.

Volume 1 opens with an informative Introduction by Consulting Editor, Robert P. Watson, updated by Editor Michael J. O’Neal, which examines the office of president, its duties, and the characteristics of its holders. It is followed by an essay “The American Presidency: An Overview,” which provides a chronology of the presidency by administration. An “Alphabetical List of Presidents” at the beginning of Volume 1 also helps readers find a particular entry.

New additions to this title include:

  • Donald Trump and Joe Biden added
  • Recent presidents revisited and updated
  • Every essay reviewed for accuracy and currency
  • Bibliography updated to include the latest scholarship
  • All appendices revisited and updated
  • Dozens of new photographs and illustrations

Each essay begins with ready reference information: name; administration number and years (e.g. “7th President, 1829-1837”); birth and death dates and locations; political party; vice presidents; and cabinet members by department. The text that follows offers a comprehensive portrait of the life and times of the president, from birth through political rise, election, term of office, defeat or retirement, and death. Topical subheadings help guide readers through the material. The legacy of each administration is measured against the yardstick of U.S. history, and the evolution of the office and the country can be traced clearly. Every essay ends with a current, annotated bibliography and is signed by the author.

Every entry features boxed sidebars on First Ladies and vice presidents. Other sidebars reproduce Primary documents—such as Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, the Monroe Doctrine, and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation—and many entries offer excerpts from famous presidential speeches and other notable quotations, adding valuable historical context. More than two hundred photographs complement the text..

Volume two includes appendices that provide vital reference information in an accessible format. The U.S. Constitution is reprinted to provide the full context of the duties and limitations of the office of the president. “The Law of Presidential Succession” outlines procedures following a president’s death or removal. A “Time Line” chronicles important events by administration. “Presidential Election Returns, 1789-2012” includes all major candidates, with their political parties and tallies for both electoral and popular votes. Three different lists name the vice presidents, cabinet members, and First Ladies for every administration.

Another appendix provides information about the location and holdings of presidential libraries. “Executive Departments and Offices” includes descriptions and contact information, and “Museums, Historic Sites, and Websites” provides visitor information for places that are on display or open to the public and lists Web sites of interest to presidential scholars and the general public alike. A “Glossary” of political terms, programs, and campaign slogans offers concise definitions. Finally, the general “Bibliography” lists books about the presidency, campaigns and elections, First Ladies and presidential families, presidential quotations, the White House, and each president to hold office. The comprehensive subject index allows easy access to the wealth of information found in these essays.

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