A colleague and I are working on revamping the American presidency course that is in our course catalog. Currently, it is listed as under political science, but we have requested that it be crosslisted with history. Our hope is to use the course to rebuild the political science program, which disappeared into academic purgatory several years ago. It makes logical sense to me, given the various ways that students could use a political science degree in their future.

I’ve taught a crosslisted American presidency course before, interweaving biographical studies with the evolution of the executive branch. I’m hoping to take a similar approach, so I’m asking my readers for recommendations for useful, concise presidential biographies. I’m particularly interested in suggestions for the pre-1877 period, but feel free to make post-1877 recommendations as well.