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5 Founding Father Bios for Summer Reading

Updated on September 16, 2014

Learn about our Founding Fathers in these 5 Bios hand picked from many available

I have chosen these particular 5 Bios because they provide insights into these five important men in our national USA history that you may not have read before. I've read more than a dozen bios on each of these men. These may or may not be the 'best' - but I highly recommend each for those of you really interested in becoming better informed.

It has been said that history is best understood by reading biographies of those who made it. I think the bios on this list help prove that point. ;-)

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons at:

Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - George Washington Bio - The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon

Author John Ferling demonstrates in easy-to-read great detail how Washington "deftly screened burning ambition behind an image of republican virtue" to lead a shaky new nation when it most desperately needed it.

The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon
The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon
Ferling reveals how "the proof of Washington's political genius lies in the fact that he is no longer thought of as a politician at all." I use this quote from the jacket cover of the book because it so aptly describes what is demonstrated in the book. I wasn't sure I wanted to read another Washington bio, but once I got into it and saw how well this aspect of our Founding Father was being demonstrated, I couldn't put it down.

New Duel Debate - Washington or Jefferson - Which of these two founders do you favor to read?

These two men, intentionally or unintentionally, were the founders of our current system of opposing political parties. Much has changed since, of course, but the debates began in their days, actually around the Cabinet table, and still resonate today.

Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - Thomas Jefferson - Land, Farmers, Slavery and the Louisiana Purchase

This is perhaps one of the more controversial biographies of Thomas Jefferson. Some loved it. Some hated it. I include it here because it adds some new insights into the stereotypical early biographies you may have read. Read it and form your own judgements, is my approach

Which of these two do you tend to like/favor most in your reading?

Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - John Adams - The Book by David McCullough

This is the now classic biography of John Adams and if you have not yet read it this is the summer to do so. It is written in the McCullough style, of course, so allocate plenty of time to get through it.

John Adams was a very conflicted man, torn between his personal desires and his sense of duty to his nation and his family. He was the first of a long line of Adams family members to serve the USA ably for more than a century. This book lays the foundation for that dynasty very well along with helping us understand why this man did, and did not do, the many things in his life for which he is so infamous.

John Adams
John Adams
John Adams, as second president of the United States, helped provide the foundation for all the presidents to come, both good and bad, by demonstrating that a President must do what he thinks is best, regardless of the criticism he receives. There has never been another quite like him.

Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - James Madison - The Fourth President of the United States

I find James Madison to be totally fascinating on many, many levels. He was a great thinking and writer. Though very small of stature, be married one of the most beautiful and vivacious women to ever grace out nation's capital. His story is nothing short of remarkable.

James Madison
James Madison
Written by eminent historian Richard Brookhiser, this very worthy book shares the story of one of the Founding Fathers who has been often 'overshadowed' by more luminous and exciting figures of the time. This book brings the reality of the situation to our attention. James Madison was there and heavily involved at every step of the founding our our nation. Do not miss out on the insights provided by this book.

Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - Benjamin Franklin - The Biography by Edmund S. Morgan

As with Benjamin Franklin himself, I'm always unsure what to recommend. This Edmund S. Morgan biography is a good one, so I have included it here. Franklin was a very man of broad interests and a long, varied, and productive life. He has received more kudos and criticisms than any ten men deserve, but these were all mostly well placed.

Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
You just cannot leave this man off the list of 5 Founding Fathers. He was the oldest of the bunch, but generally was 'way-ahead' of most of his younger contemporaries - even if not always as respected as he might have liked, at the time. He was simply a very important person in USA history.

Washington Crossing the Delaware

Washington Crossing the Delaware
Washington Crossing the Delaware

Summer Reading List Poll

Monticello - Home of Thomas Jefferson
Monticello - Home of Thomas Jefferson

Which of these 5 Bios are you most likely to read this summer?

See results

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