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The Books That Should Be on Clinton and Trump's Reading Lists

The Library of Congress

Donald Trump doesn't have time to read. As he puts it, that's always been the case.

“I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy, I guess, than ever before.”

But that doesn't stop presidential historian and retired director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Tim Walch from having some book recommendations for him and for his opponent Hillary Clinton. He puts a lot of presidential biographies from the days of our founding fathers on that list.

"You see the real tension that existed in our republic. There is a certain measure of experience and a sense of wisdom that comes from the fact that our politics has somehow worked itself out through the course of our history."

In this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks to Walch about his picks and what books can mean to a presidential candidate. 

Read his list below:

Presidential Biographies

  • Ron Chernow on George Washington [Washington: A Life, 2011]
  • David McCullough on John Adams [John Adams, 2002]
  • Joseph Ellis on Thomas Jefferson [American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, 1998]
  • Jon Meacham on Andrew Jackson [American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, 2009]
  • David Donald on Abraham Lincoln [Lincoln, 1996]
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin on Theodore Roosevelt [The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard       Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism, 2014]
  • John Milton Cooper on Woodrow Wilson [Woodrow Wilson: A Biography, 2011]
  • Frank Freidel on Franklin Roosevelt [Franklin Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny, 1991]
  • David McCullough on Harry Truman [Truman, 1993]
  • Jean Edward Smith on Dwight D. Eisenhower [Eisenhower in War and Peace, 2013]
  • Robert Dallek on Lyndon B. Johnson [Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973, 1999]


  • Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department, 1987
  • David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest, 1993
  • John Hersey, Hiroshima, 1989
  • Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August, 2004

Books that make you think

  • David Brooks, The Road to Character, 2015
  • Walter Isaacson, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, 2014
  • Caroline Kennedy, Profiles in Courage for Our Times, 2003
  • Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, 2001

Novels worth reading

  • Erich Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, 1929
  • Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, 1940
  • Joseph Heller, Catch 22, 1961
  • Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried, 1990
  • Phil Klay, Redeployment, 2014

Also in this hour, a discussion with Ari Berman, senior contributing writer for The Nation, the author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America," discusses voting rights with Kieffer.

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River