The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge

Authorized, Expanded, and Annotated Edition

By Calvin Coolidge, Edited with an Introduction by Amity Shlaes and Matthew Denhart

From: $11.99

“The forgotten classic of presidential writing”
—Craig Fehrman, author of Author in Chief

Ronald Reagan called Calvin Coolidge “one of our most underrated presidents.” Coolidge’s remarkable autobiography has also suffered from unjust neglect.

No more. Amity Shlaes, author of the magisterial biography Coolidge, makes The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge accessible to a new generation of readers. She and Coolidge Foundation president Matthew ­Denhart provide crucial context for understanding Silent Cal’s strengths.

This expanded and annotated work is the definitive edition of one of the finest presidential memoirs ever written.

“Calvin Coolidge was an astute president, and his memoir is an underappreciated account of what it’s truly like to preside at the pinnacle. This new edition of his autobiography—with his modesty, decorum, and steadfastness—offers us a resonant contrast to our own time.”
Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning presidential historian

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“Calvin Coolidge was an astute president, and his memoir is an underappreciated account of what it’s truly like to preside at the pinnacle. This new edition of his autobiography—with his modesty, decorum, and steadfastness—offers us a resonant contrast to our own time.”
Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning presidential historian

Today Americans of all backgrounds are on the hunt for a different politi­cal model. In fact, such a model awaits them, if only they turn their eyes to their own past . . . to America’s thirtieth president, Calvin Coolidge.

Coolidge’s masterful autobiography offers urgent lessons for our age of exploding debt, increasingly centralized power, and fierce partisan division. This expanded and annotated volume, edited by Coolidge biographer Amity Shlaes and authorized by the Coolidge family, is the definitive edition of the text that presidential historian Craig Fehrman calls “the forgotten classic of presidential writing.”

To read this volume is to understand the tragic extent to which historians underrate President Coolidge. The Coolidge who emerges in these pages is a model of character, principle, and humility—rare qualities in Washington, then as now. A man of great faith, Coolidge told Americans: “Men do not make laws. They do but discover them.” Although he emphasized economics, Coolidge insisted on the importance of “things of the spirit.” At the height of his popularity, he chose not to run again when his reelection was all but assured. In this autobiography, Coolidge explains his mindset: “It is a great advantage to a President, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man.”

For all his modesty, Coolidge left an expansive legacy—one we would do well to study today. Shlaes and ­coeditor ­Matthew Denhart draw out the lessons from Coolidge’s life and career in an enlightening introduction and annotations to Coolidge’s text. To aid Coolidge scholars young and old, the editors have also assembled nearly three dozen photographs, several of Coolidge’s greatest speeches, a timeline of Coolidge’s life, and afterwords by former Vermont governor James H. Douglas and two of Coolidge’s great-grandchildren, Jennifer Coolidge Harville and Christopher Coolidge Jeter.

This autobiography combats the myths about one of our most misunderstood presidents. It also shows us how much we still have to learn from Calvin Coolidge.

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Reviews

“Calvin Coolidge was an astute president, and his memoir is an underappreciated account of what it’s truly like to preside at the pinnacle. This new edition of his autobiography—with his modesty, decorum, and steadfastness—offers us a resonant contrast to our own time.”

Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning presidential historian

“This book is the forgotten classic of presidential writing—a massive hit in its own time and a model for how today’s presidential memoirs might be better. Coolidge was a terrific writer.”

Craig Fehrman, author of Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote

“At a time of tremendous political division, Calvin Coolidge teaches us what humility and unity look like.”

Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist

“Calvin Coolidge may have been the last president who understood and revered the Founders’ vision of self-government. In this spare and eloquent chronicle of his life, President Coolidge demonstrates his devotion and allegiance to those founding principles.”

Janice Rogers Brown, judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (retired)

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