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The Best Books To Learn About President James Buchanan

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(You can view the rest of our presidential Best Book lists by going to our Best US President Books page, or for a more in-depth look at how we found and ranked the books you can visit our Best Book About Every United States President article.)

 

James Buchanan Quick Facts

President Number15
Terms In Office1
Years1857-1861
Political PartyDemocratic
Vice PresidentJohn C. Breckinridge
Home StatePennsyvania
Presidential Pet Eagle & Toy Terrier (Punch)
Articles Used in Ranking14
Number of Unique Books10

 



The Best Book About James Buchanan
(Appears on 7 Lists)



President James Buchanan: A Biography by Philip S. Klein

President James Buchanan- A Biography by Philip Shriver Klein
Lists It Appears On:

  • At Times Dull
  • Best Presidential Bios
  • Library of Congress
  • Mandi Lindner
  • Presidents USA
  • The Tailored Man
  • The Washington Post

This balanced account of the life of the most misunderstood president fills a glaring gap in American biography.

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#2
(Appears on 6 Lists)



James Buchanan by Jean Baker

James Buchanan (The American Presidents #15) by Jean H. Baker, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
Lists It Appears On:

  • All The Presidents Books
  • Best Presidential Bios
  • Library of Congress
  • Mashable
  • Presidents USA
  • The Christian Science Monitor

Almost no president was as well trained and well prepared for the office as James Buchanan. He had served in the Pennsylvania state legislature, the U.S. House, and the U.S. Senate; he was Secretary of State and was even offered a seat on the Supreme Court. And yet, by every measure except his own, James Buchanan was a miserable failure as president, leaving office in disgrace. Virtually all of his intentions were thwarted by his own inability to compromise: he had been unable to resolve issues of slavery, caused his party to split-thereby ensuring the election of the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln-and made the Civil War all but inevitable.

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#3
(Appears on 2 Lists)



The Presidency of James Buchanan by Elbert B. Smith

The Presidency of James Buchanan (American Presidency Series) by Elbert B. Smith
Lists It Appears On:

  • Library of Congress
  • Presidents USA

This book offers conclusions that are very different from most of the traditional historical interpretations of the Buchanan presidency. Historians have either condemned Buchanan for weakness and vacillation or portrayed him as a president dedicated to peace who did everything constitutionally possible to avoid war. Under the scrutiny of Elbert B. Smith, Buchanan emerges as a strong figure who made vital contributions not to peace but to the accelerating animosities that produced the war.

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#4-10
(Appear on 1 List)



America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink. by Kenneth M. Stampp

America in 1857- A Nation on the Brink by Kenneth M. Stampp
Lists It Appears On:

  • NY Times

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James Buchanan and the American Empire by Frederick Moore Binder

James Buchanan and the American Empire by Frederick Moore Binder
Lists It Appears On:

  • Library of Congress

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James Buchanan and the Coming of the Civil War by John Quist

James Buchanan and the Coming of the Civil War by John W. Quist (Editor), Michael J. Birkner (Editor)
Lists It Appears On:

  • Presidents USA

As James Buchanan took office in 1857, the United States found itself at a crossroads. Dissolution of the Union had been averted and the Democratic Party maintained control of the federal government, but the nation watched to see if Pennsylvania’s first president could make good on his promise to calm sectional tensions.

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James Buchanan and the Political Crisis of the 1850s by Michael J. Birkner

James Buchanan and the Political Crisis of the 1850s by Michael J. Birkner
Lists It Appears On:

  • Library of Congress

A group of Middle Period scholars met at Franklin and Marshall College in 1991 to commemorate James Buchanan’s bicentenary. This book grew out of that conference and consists of the papers given and a post-paper panel reassessing the Buchanan presidency. Michael J. Birkner introduces the essays with a brief biographical sketch of the fifteenth president. When Buchanan entered the White House in March 1857, he seemed well positioned to accomplish his main objectives. A canny and seasoned politician from Pennsylvania with a reputation for moderation on slavery-related issues, Buchanan had a straightforward agenda: the amelioration of sectional tensions, the promotion of American prosperity, and the extension of the Democrats’ control of the federal government. Four years later, Buchanan left Washington convinced that he had done his best and accomplished much. In fact, he left behind a shattered Democratic party, a new Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, and a ruptured Union. Except for a cadre of faithful Pennsylvania friends, Buchanan’s reputation lay in ruins. He has consistently been ranked among the least effective presidents in American history.

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Life of James Buchanan by George Ticknor Curtis

Life of James Buchanan- Fifteenth President of the United States, Volume 1 by George Ticknor Curtis
Lists It Appears On:

  • Presidents USA

Macaulay has called the disease of admiration, no one who can lay claim to any strength of mind need allow the fear of such an imputation to prevent him from doing justice to a public man whose life, for whatever reason, he has undertaken to write. But that my readers may judge of the degree of my exposure to this malady, a frank explanation of the circumstances under which I came to write this work is due both to them and to myself. In the summer of 1880, the executors and the nearest surviving relatives of Mr. Buchanan asked me to allow them to place in my hands the whole collection of his private papers, with a view to the preparation of a biographical and historical work concerning his public and private life. This duty could not have been undertaken by me, without an explicit understanding that I was to treat the subject in an entirely independent and impartial spirit. To be of much value, the work, as I conceived, must necessarily be, to some extent, a history of the times in which Mr. Buchanan acted an important part as a public man. Moreover, although I had been for far the greater part of this period an attentive observer of public affairs, I had no special interest in Mr. Buchanan sfame, and was never personally known to him.

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Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion by James Buchanan

Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion (1866) by James Buchanan
Lists It Appears On:

  • Presidents USA

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Presidents’ War: Six American Presidents and the Civil War That Divided Them by Chris DeRose

The Presidents' War- Six American Presidents and the Civil War That Divided Them by Chris DeRose
Lists It Appears On:

  • Presidents USA

For the first time, readers will experience America’s gravest crisis through the eyes of the five former presidents who lived it. Author and historian Chris DeRose chronicles history’s most epic Presidential Royal Rumble, which culminated in a multi-front effort against Lincoln’s reelection bid, but not before

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The Best James Buchanan Book Lists Consulted



SourceArticle
All The Presidents BooksOne Through Forty-Two or Forty-Three
At Times DullJanet’s Presidential Biography Project & Blog
Best Presidential BiosThe Best Presidential Biographies
Huffington PostPresidents’ Day History: The Must-Reads Of Presidential Biographies
Library of CongressSelected Bibliography
Mandi Lindner44 Presidents and Their Definitive Biographies
MashableWhy I’m spending a year reading about every U.S. president
NY TimesGood Books About Bad Presidents
Presidential HistoryPresidential Resources
Presidential History (Again)Pulitzer Prize Winning Books About Presidents
Presidents USAFURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT JAMES BUCHANAN
The Christian Science Monitor5 great books about obscure presidents
The Tailored ManThe 44 Best Presidential Biographies
The Washington PostThe Fix’s list of best presidential biographies

 

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