POSTPONED Author Event and Book Signing - AUTHOR IN CHIEF


Craig Fehrman

Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote

Based on a decade of research and reporting, Author in Chief tells the story of America's presidents as authors--and offers a delightful new window into the public and private lives of our highest leaders.



Author Craig Fehrman will discuss his new book. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion. The event is free and open to the public; no registration required. To join the signing line, you simply have to have purchased the book from Village Lights Bookstore. To pre-order it now, drop in or call Village Lights, 812-265-1800. The book will also be available at the event. 


Author in Chief

Most Americans are familiar with Abraham Lincoln's famous words in the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation. Yet few can name the work that helped him win the presidency: his published collection of speeches entitled Political Debates between Hon. Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln labored in secret to get his book ready for the 1860 election, tracking down newspaper transcripts, editing them carefully for fairness, and hunting for a printer who would meet his specifications. Political Debates sold fifty thousand copies--the rough equivalent of half a million books in today's market--and it reveals something about Lincoln's presidential ambitions. But it also reveals something about his heart and mind. When voters asked about his beliefs, Lincoln liked to point them to his book.

In Craig Fehrman's groundbreaking work of history, Author in Chief, the story of America's presidents and their books opens a rich new window into presidential biography. From volumes lost to history--Calvin Coolidge's Autobiography, which was one of the most widely discussed titles of 1929--to ones we know and love--Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father, which was very nearly never published--Fehrman unearths countless insights about the presidents through their literary works.

Presidential books have made an enormous impact on American history, catapulting their authors to the national stage and even turning key elections. Beginning with Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, the first presidential book to influence a campaign, and John Adams's Autobiography, the first score-settling presiden-tial memoir, Author in Chief draws on newly uncovered information--including never-before-published letters from Andrew Jackson, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan--to cast fresh light on the private drives and self-doubts that fueled our nation's leaders.

We see Teddy Roosevelt as a vulnerable first-time author, struggling to write the book that would become a classic of American history. We see Reagan painstakingly revising Where's the Rest of Me?, a forgotten memoir in which he sharpened his sunny political image. We see Donald Trump negotiating the deal for The Art of the Deal, the volume that made him synonymous with business savvy. Alongside each of these authors, we also glimpse the everyday Americans who read them.

Combining the narrative felicity of a journalist with the rigorous scholarship of a historian, Fehrman delivers a feast for history lovers, book lovers, and everybody curious about a behind-the-scenes look at our presidents.



Craig Fehrman is a journalist and historian who's written for The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, among others, and has been interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Author in Chief, his first book, was published in February 2020 by Avid Reader, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his wife and two children.


Praise for Author in Chief

"Entertaining and illuminating . . . Fehrman's deep research delivers a wealth of intriguing tidbits (Jimmy Carter leased a $12,000 word processor to compose Keeping the Faith; the Committee to Boycott Nixon's Memoirs sold T-shirts and bumper stickers with the slogan "Don't Buy Books by Crooks"), which are complemented by a generous selection of illustrations. Bibliophiles and presidential history buffs alike will relish this gratifying deep dive into an underappreciated genre."

-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)


"From the very beginnings of America's experiment in republican government, its chief executives, both actual and aspiring, have put pen to paper (nowadays fingers to keyboard) in attempts to justify themselves and inspire others. Here, Fehrman records such literary efforts back to Jefferson and Adams. . . . Both history buffs and politics enthusiasts will relish this."

-- Booklist (starred review)


"A lively account of the literary achievements (and failures) of America's presidents. . . . The author covers a great deal of ground that even major biographers have skipped over in favor of 'sexier' storylines, yet to the book lover, these stories will be unquestionably enticing. Even the footnotes, appendix, and sources offer bookish gems. Fehrman's illuminating blend of presidential and publishing history with literary criticism will appeal to amateur historians and bibliophiles alike."

-- Kirkus Reviews


Event date: 
Saturday, May 9, 2020 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Event address: 
110 East Main Street
Madison, IN 47250
Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476786391
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - February 11th, 2020