9 books that American presidents think everyone should read

These must-reads shaped the minds of our nation's leaders.

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire / Getty Contributor

For many former presidents, literature has played a huge role in shaping their worldview and how they approach decision-making.

The elder George Bush said he learned everything about life from reading Leo Tolstoy’s multi-generational epic “War and Peace”. Ronald Reagan used to read Tom Clancy novels for inspiration before challenging summits with his Russian counterparts.

From ‘The Hunt for Red October’ to ‘Macbeth’ former US presidents are a well-read bunch. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have released reading lists on social media, while many others have discussed their favorite works in past interviews.

If you want to read like a president, scroll on.

Donald Trump: ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ by Erich Maria Remarque

President Donald Trump is not an avid reader, by his own admission. Apart from recommending partisan books praising him or attacking Hillary Clinton, Trump hasn’t publicly discussed or published a recommended a reading list the way past presidents have.

However, in a 2016 interview with Michael Wolff, Trump did call “All Quiet on the Western Front,” written by a German World War I veteran, “one of the greatest books of all time.”

The book describes the extreme physical and mental toll war takes on soldiers, and how difficult it is to reintegrate back into civilian life.

Note: The White House did not return a request for comment when asked for Trump’s book recommendations.

Barack Obama: ‘Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City’ by Matthew Desmond

In “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond follows eight Milwaukee families on the brink of poverty, and sheds light on the profound challenges impoverished families face.

The nonfiction book is on of Obama’s list of his 12 favorite books from 2017, where you can find more of the 44th president’s recommendations.

George W. Bush: ‘The Case For Democracy: The Power Of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny And Terror’ by Natan Sharansky

George W. Bush, the 43rd President, was so enamored with Natan Sharansky’s ‘Case for Democracy‘ that he awarded the Soviet-born, Israeli author a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006.

Sharansky wrote the book after being jailed nine years for speaking out against the Soviet regime. In his book, he makes the case that only democracies can safeguard the well-being of citizens. Sharansky held a number of posts in the Israeli government, including a stint as Deputy Prime Minister.

Bill Clinton: ‘How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia’ by Mohsin Hamid

Like Obama, former President Bill Clinton released a list of his favorite books in 2017. Mohsin Hamid’s satirical work “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia” appeared high on the list.

The fictional work features a sickly boy with big dreams; it parodies the style of popular self-help books and offers a scathing critique of no-holds-barred capitalism.

George H.W. Bush: ‘War and Peace’ by Leo Tolstoy

The elder Bush has said in interviews that he read Tolstoy’s epic “War and Peace” twice, and that it “taught him a lot about life.”

Tolstoy wrote the work between 1862 and 1869, weaving a multi-generational tale of five aristocratic families in Russia with philosophical meditations on the nature of human existence.

Ronald Reagan: ‘The Hunt for Red October’ by Tom Clancy

President Ronald Reagan was a huge Tom Clancy fan, and the feeling seems to have been mutual: Clancy visited Reagan in the White House, and Reagan is said to have read Clancy’s books to gain insight into his Soviet nemeses before big meetings.

The Hunt for Red October‘ is Clancy’s seminal work, telling the story of a Soviet submarine caught in a political cat-and-mouse game, and the formerly desk-bound CIA agent at the center of it all.

Jimmy Carter: ‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’ by James Agee and Walker Evans

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,’ regarded as one of the seminal works on American life in the early 20th century, paints a vivid picture of the lives of white sharecroppers in the South.

Paired with Evans’ photos, the work was met with critical acclaim when it was published. Carter himself could relate to the story: He grew up without electricity and plumbing on a peanut farm in Georgia.

John F. Kennedy: ‘From Russia With Love’ by Ian Fleming

JFK had a thing for James Bond novels. When dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy famously said he wished “James Bond” was on his staff.

From Russia With Love,” is considered one of 007 author Ian Fleming’s strongest works, and it was turned into a movie starring Sean Connery.

Abraham Lincoln: ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare

Abraham Lincoln loved Shakespeare. In particular, he was said to have read aloud from ‘Macbeth‘ just days before he was shot to death — at a theater.

And though Lincoln was an avid Shakespeare fan, he told a friend in a letter that “nothing equals Macbeth.”

The play, which examines how the pursuit of power for power’s sake can drive an ambitious politician to madness. The titular character, Macbeth, a former Scottish general who seizes the throne, is caught in a web of lies and murder that ultimately leads to his death.

Originally published on www.businessinsider.com.

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