Do Books Influence American Presidents and their Policies?
Norm Goldman

Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of

He has been reviewing books for the past twenty years after retiring from the legal profession.

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By Norm Goldman
Published on April 16, 2010

Recently I received the following interesting email from one of bookpleasures' readers:

“White House watchers obsess over which aides have the ear of the president. For Barack Obama and past presidents, the books they read offer insight on where they want to take the country -- and how history will remember them.

In an essay for The Washington Post’s Outlook section, contributor Tevi Troy examines how books have historically informed Presidents’ politics and policies. In his piece, which is online now, Troy breaks down what Presidents have read (or haven’t read—see how a book review influenced John F. Kennedy) and how those books may have reaffirmed or shifted their views during office.

Here are two excerpts from the article and you can read the entire article by clicking on the link below:

“One of the reasons the country's intellectual class has taken so gleefully to Obama is precisely that, in addition to writing bestsellers, the man is clearly a dedicated reader. During his presidential campaign, he was photographed toting around Fareed Zakaria's "The Post-American World," the it-book of the foreign policy establishment at the time. A year ago, in an interview about economic policy, he told a reporter that he was reading Joseph O'Neill's post-Sept. 11 novel "Netherland," which had recently won the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award.

In a historical sense, Obama follows a long line of dedicated presidential readers, paging all the way back to the founders. John Adams's library had over 3,000 volumes -- including Cicero, Plutarch and Thucydides -- heavily inscribed with the president's marginalia. Thomas Jefferson's massive book collection launched him into debt and later became the backbone for the Library of Congress. "I cannot live without books," he confessed to Adams. And it's likely that no president will ever match the Rough Rider himself, who charged through multiple books in a single day and wrote more than a dozen well-regarded works, on topics ranging from the War of 1812 to the American West.

To read the article in its entirety as published in the Washington Post, CLICK HERE