The Best and Worst Presidential Cabinets in U.S. History

A bibliography

Lindsay Chervinsky, Ph.D.
7 min readNov 2, 2021

Over the last year, I’ve worked with Great Courses (now Wondrium) to create a new Audible course on the history of the president’s cabinet. It’s chock full of scandal, power, failure, leadership, and very colorful characters. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Like all history, my work is built on the scholarship of generations of historians and journalists that come before me. Here is the bibliography of all the books and scholarly articles I consulted, plus about a million op-eds and newspapers articles.

One caveat. For my early American history, I work really hard to have gender parity in my citations and cultivate a diverse stable of authors. As I put together this bibliography, I was shocked to see the imbalance in my presidential library. I will be working to rectify that problem, so I’d welcome any recommendations for books on the presidency by women and people of color.

The Best and Worst Presidential Cabinets Audible Course Bibliography

1. Albright, Madeleine. Madam Secretary, 2003.

2. Allgor, Catherine. Parlor Politics, 2002.

3. Ambrose, Stephen E. Eisenhower: Soldier and President, 1991.

4. Avlon, John. Washington’s Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017.

5. Badger, Anthony J. FDR: The First Hundred Days, 2008.

6. Baime, A.J. The Accidental President, 2017.

7. Baker, Peter. Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House, 2013.

8. Baker, Peter and Susan Glasser. The Man Who Ran Washington, 2020.

9. Bauer, Bob and Jack Goldsmith. After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency, 2020.

10. Berkin, Carol. A Sovereign People: The Crises of the 1790s and the Birth of American Nationalism. New York: Basic Books, 2017.

11. Berfield, Susan. The Hour of Fate, 2020.

12. Brands, H.W. Andrew Jackson, 2006.

13. Brands, H.W. T.R.: The Last Romantic, 2019.

14. Calhoun, Charles. The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, 2017.

15. Califano Jr., Joseph. The Triumph & Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: The White House Years, 2014.

16. Cheathem, Mark R. The Coming of Democracy: Presidential Campaigning in the Age of Jackson, 2018.

17. — — . “‘A House Divided Cannot Stand’: Andrew Jackson Donelson and the Pressures Placed on a Presidential Nephew,” White House Historical Association,

18. Chernow, Ron. Grant, 2017.

19. Chervinsky, Lindsay M. The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2020.

20. Clarfield, Gerard H. Timothy Pickering and the American Republic. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980.

21. — — — . Timothy Pickering and American Diplomacy, 1795–1800. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1969.

22. Clinton, Hillary Rodham. Hard Choices, 2014.

23. Cohen, Andrew. Two Days in June, 2014.

24. Cole, Donald B. Vindicating Andrew Jackson: The 1828 Election and the Rise of the Two-Party System, 2009.

25. Cooper, William J. The Lost Founding Father: John Quincy Adams and the Transformation of American Politics. Reprint edition. Liveright, 2017.

26. Crane, Elaine Forman. “Political Dialogue and the Spring of Abigail’s Discontent.” The William and Mary Quarterly 56, no. 4 (1999): 745–74.

27. Cunningham, Noble E. The Process of Government under Jefferson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016.

28. Dallek, Robert. Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House, 2013.

29. Dallek, Robert. Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life, 2018.

30. Dalton, Kathleen. Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life, 2004.

31. Daniels, Roger. Franklin D. Roosevelt: The War Years, 2016.

32. Dauer, Manning J. The Adams Federalists. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1968.

33. DeConde, Alexander. The Quasi-War: The Politics and Diplomacy of the Undeclared War with France, 1797–1801. 1st edition. Scribner, 1966.

34. Downey, Kirstin. The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, 2010.

35. Elkins, Stanley and Eric McKitrick. Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788–1800. Oxford University Press, 1995.

36. Feldman, Noah. The Three Lives of James Madison. New York: Random House, 2017.

37. Ferling, John. John Adams: A Life. Illustrated edition. Oxford University Press, 2010.

38. Freedman, Lawrence. Kennedy’s Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam, 2000.

39. Freeman, Joanne B. Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2002.

40. Furstenberg, Francois. When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation. Penguin Books, 2014.

41. Galambois, Louis. Eisenhower: Becoming the Leader of the Free World, 2018.

42. Gleijeses, Piero. “Napoleon, Jefferson, and the Louisiana Purchase.” The International History Review 39, no. 2 (2017): 237–55.

43. Goldstein, Gordon M. Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to the War in Vietnam.

44. Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Team of Rivals, 2006.

45. Grant, James. John Adams: Party of One. 1st edition. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.

46. Greenstein, Fred I. “Presidential Difference in the Early Republic: The Highly Disparate Leadership Styles of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 36, no. 3 (2006): 373–90.

47. Hennessey, Susan and Benjamin Wittes. Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump’s War on the World’s Most Powerful Office, 2020.

48. Hitchcock, William. Age of Eisenhower, 2018.

49. Holton, Woody. Abigail Adams: A Life. New York: Atria Books, 2010.

50. Horn, Jonathan. Washington’s End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle. New York: Scribner, 2020.

51. Isenberg, Nancy, and Andrew Burstein. The Problem of Democracy: The Presidents Adams Confront the Cult of Personality. Penguin Books, 2019.

52. Johnson, David. John Randolph of Roanoke. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2012.

53. Kalt, Brian. Unable: The Law, Politics, and Limits of Section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, 2019.

54. Kaplan, Fred. John Quincy Adams: American Visionary. Reprint edition. Harper, 2014.

55. Kinzer, Stephen. The Brothers: John Doster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War, 2014.

56. Kurtz, Stephen G. “The Political Science of John Adams: A Guide to His Statecraft.” The William and Mary Quarterly 25, no. 4 (1968): 605–13.

57. — — — . The Presidency of John Adams: The Collapse of Federalism, 1795–1800. Literary Licensing, LLC, 2011.

58. Laracey, Mel. “The Impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase: New Perspectives from Thomas Jefferson’s Presidential Newspaper.” Journal of Supreme Court History 40, no. 3 (2015): 231–48.

59. Leuchtenburg, William E. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 2009.

60. Malone, Dumas. Jefferson the President: First Term, 1801–1805. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1970.

61. Mannix, Richard. “Gallatin, Jefferson, and the Embargo of 1808.” Diplomatic History 3, no. 2 (1979): 151–72.

62. May, Ernest R. and Philip D. Zelikow. The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1997.

63. McDonald, Forrest. The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson. University Press of Kansas, 1976.

64. McGrath, Tim. James Monroe: A Life, 2020.

65. McMaster, H.R. Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam, 2011.

66. Meacham, Jon. American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, 2008.

67. Meacham, Jon. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. Illustrated edition. New York, NY: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2013.

68. Morris, Edmund. Theodore Rex, 2010.

69. Murphy, William J. “John Adams: The Politics of the Additional Army, 1798–1800.” The New England Quarterly 52, no. 2 (1979): 234–49.

70. Nagel, Paul C. John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life. 1st edition. Knopf, 2012.

71. Obama, Barack. A Promised Land, 2020.

72. Pasley, Jeffrey L. The First Presidential Contest: 1796 and the Founding of American Democracy. Reprint edition. Place of publication not identified: University Press of Kansas, 2016.

73. Perkins, Bradford. The First Rapprochement: England and the United States, 1795–1805. Univ of California Press, 1967.

74. — — — . Prologue to War: England and the United States 1805–1812. University of California Press, 2021.

75. Perl-Rosenthal, Nathan. “Private Letters and Public Diplomacy: The Adams Network and the Quasi-War, 1797–1798.” Journal of the Early Republic 31, no. 2 (Summer 2011): 283–311.

76. Pickering, Octavius, and Charles Wentworth Upham. The Life of Timothy Pickering. Little, Brown, 1873.

77. Ratcliffe, Donald John. The One-Party Presidential Contest: Adams, Jackson, and 1824’s Five-Horse Race, 2021.

78. Rauchway, Eric. The Money Makers, 2015.

79. — -. Winter War, 2018.

80. Rhodes, Ben. The World As It Is, 2018.

81. Rice, Susan. Tough Love, 2019.

82. Robbins, Karen E. James McHenry, Forgotten Federalist. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2016.

83. Rohrs, Richard C. “The Federalist Party and the Convention of 1800.” Diplomatic History 12, no. 3 (1988): 237–60.

84. Rorabaugh, W.J. The Real Making of the President: Kennedy, Nixon, and the 1960 Election, 2017.

85. Rosen, James. The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate, 2008.

86. Rossignol, Marie-Jeanne. The Nationalist Ferment: The Origins of U.S. Foreign Policy, 1789–1812. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2004.

87. Shaw, John. Rising Star, Setting Sun, 2018.

88. Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower: In War and Peace, 2012.

89. — — . FDR, 2007.

90. Stahr, Walter. Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man, 2012.

91. Stahr, Walter. Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary, 2017.

92. Stevens, Rosemary. A Time of Scandal: Charles R. Forbes, Warren G. Harding, and the Making of the Veterans Bureau, 2017.

93. Traub, James. John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit. Basic Books, 2016.

94. Watts, Jill. The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt, 2020.

95. White, Ronald C. American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant, 2016.

96. White, Theodore H. Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon, 1975.

97. Woodward, Bob. Bush at War, 2002.

98. — — .Fear: Trump in the White House, 2019.

99. — — -. Rage, 2020.

100. Woolner, David B. The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace, 2017.