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Another New Book Available: States of the Union, The History of the United States through Presidential Addresses, 1789-2023

Mount Greylock Books LLC has published States of the Union: The History of the United States through Presidential Addresses, 1789-2023.   St...

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Another New Book Available: States of the Union, The History of the United States through Presidential Addresses, 1789-2023

Mount Greylock Books LLC has published States of the Union: The History of the United States through Presidential Addresses, 1789-2023.  

States of the Union uses State of the Union addresses and other presidential addresses to tell the story of the political history of the United States from Washington's inauguration in 1789 through 2023. The addresses provide a remarkable record of how the country saw itself, what problems required solutions--both at home and in the larger world--what solutions presidents proposed, and what was actually accomplished. Meanwhile, election results register the verdicts of the American people. Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Reagan emerge as our most influential presidents. These presidential addresses, it turns out, tell the amazing story of the great American political experiment that began more than two centuries ago, and faces one of its greatest tests today.

Here are some prepublication comments:

“ Drawing on readily available sources, David Kaiser provides a superb and concise political history of the United States. States of the Union provides the concise yet magisterial political history of the United States that today’s college students desperately need but increasingly cannot find.”
—James McAllister, Professor of Political Science, Williams College

States of the Union is an unusual book. It looks at American political history as an experiment—as a continuing effort to keep what Washington called the ‘sacred fire of liberty’ alive in the world. Kaiser uses U.S. presidents’ own words as a kind of lens through which to view this whole extraordinary story. And that approach is very effective. It puts the reader in direct contact with the relatively small group of people—the forty-six presidents—most deeply involved with managing the American project. It allows the reader, that is, to hear their voices and thus get a deeper sense for what they were doing and for how the experiment was going. The result is a wonderful book, one that anyone interested in American history will very much enjoy reading.”
—Marc Trachtenberg, Professor emeritus, University of California at Los Angeles

“ In this exceptional study of the speeches of American presidents, David Kaiser explores the way every chief executive—from Washington to Biden—has addressed public events, explained his policies and stated the nation’s first principles. Filled with essential facts and written in lucid prose, Kaiser’s book makes innovative use of State of the Union, Inaugural, and other official addresses as a record of the country’s historic challenges and opportunities, international and domestic. At stake, the presidents realized, were the twin commitments of democracy itself: individual equality before the law and a government elected by the people. Kaiser finds no inflexible model of public address dictated by literary custom or party bias. Rather, most presidents met good and bad news alike with a sense of the responsibilities of their office, an awareness of precedent, and an estimate of citizens’ needs. States of the Union truly brings to life both the leaders’ personalities and the country’s long history, making it a remarkable chronicle of the nation’s political experience.”
—Anne Rose, Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies, Penn State University

States of the Union surveys how presidential rhetoric has highlighted each president’s policies and politics. Ably summarizing key elements of State-of-the-Union addresses and other major presidential speeches, historian David Kaiser analyzes how well they addressed major domestic and foreign policy issues of each era. Kaiser finds Lincoln’s brief second inaugural as his masterpiece—and this book reprints it in full. The author judges Franklin Roosevelt as the president with the clearest vision and the greatest ability to translate it into practical reality, enabling him to have a unique impact on the history of the modern world. Kaiser also offers trenchant, up-to-date assessments of Obama, Trump, and Biden. Compact, well-written presidential history.”
—Richard Breitman, Professor Emeritus,
American University


The book can be ordered here.

I look forward to seeing your reactions. For the time being I am pinning this post. Thanks in any case to all of you for your faithful support.

Check below for more recent posts.



What dealer other than Greylock do you recommend? (I don't use Paypal for security reasons.)

David Kaiser said...

You can also pay with a credit card on the site. The book won't be available elsewhere for a couple of months. Thanks for your interest!
Regarding your other comment, the data I gave on generational voting was as I think I said from CNN exit polls.

Ed Boyle said...


I found discussion of above video comference on a German news site telepolis. Good luck with your book.

Bozon said...

Thanks for having the book sent.
Starting reading it has caused me to revisit the history of the academic structure at my small liberal arts college.
It was definitely on the fringe of academia when I attended.
Part of this may have been due to its small size: it didn't have the somewhat misguided luxury of strict intradisciplinary specialization and compartmentalization seen and funded even then in larger universities, such as the one you describe at Harvard.
What I am most curious about is how it managed to go in even the opposite, multidisciplinary, direction, for a short time, when I was there; and thereafter, ending the interdisciplinary experiment after only a few years, then put in place an equally fringe collegium concept, in place of the traditional disciplinary departments almost universally seen both before and since.
I may post another note at some point on this.
All the best

Pmathews1939 said...

Sorry! My Tardis is in the shop, so I can't follow this discussion.

CrocodileChuck said...

re: globalisation of finance

1) Dani Rodrik's Trilemma: https://rodrik.typepad.com/dani_rodriks_weblog/2007/06/the-inescapable.html

2) The origin & build out of Neoliberal Economics: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/12/neoliberalism-structure-ideology.html

David Kaiser said...

Great to hear from you as always, Pat Matthews, and I hope you will check out my autobiography. And PM me if you are on facebook now, please.

Chris R said...

Professor Kaiser,

I look forward to reading your autobiography. I was a student of yours at CMU (class of '91) and I remember some of the stories you told about driving a taxi (in Boston I believe). I'm sure you don't remember me but I was there pale punk kid with the leather jacket and chains and odd last name. I wanted to tell you that, even though I ended up as a research scientist in CS, your classes and my interactions with you have left an indelible mark on my life. Thank you for that. I wouldn't be where I am now if not for you.

As I said, I look forward to reading another book from you. Thank you for everything.

Chris Rapier

David Kaiser said...

Dear Chris,

Many thanks for your very kind note. I must admit that your suspicion is correct--I don't remember you--but I'm very interested to hear exactly how I knew you and what courses you took. Please email KaiserD2@gmail.com. I'm glad you are doing so well. I am still in touch with another member of your class.

David K

Bozon said...

I finally just read through some of the book.
Better even than I had thought. Brings to life those times somewhat in depth.
I did not know that you had married a woman who was studying back then in Oakland.
My recent remarks about Oakland, Yeshitela and the Panthers, were made before I realized a remote connection in the book! For me, Oakland was enblematic of the Panthers. No point in publishing this.
All the best

Martin Wiener, Professor Emeritus of History, Rice U said...

I've much enjoyed your Life in History. I was a grad student at Harvard in the 60s, and was sad to see the bad behavior of senior faculty towards those beneath them so obvious then continued thru the following decade. I too loved Cambridge as a place but disliked even more about Harvard than you did. I never had any teaching position, and got to teach only the small undergrad seminars given to most grad students. I also had worse luck with advisors than you did (David Owen died, John Clive was not very interested, even tho I was also working in British intellectual history, and Crane Brinton was senile).

Still managed to have a satisfying career as a historian at Rice, retiring just a year ago.

David Kaiser said...

Prof. Wiener,

Thanks for your kind words. I thought I recognized your name and checking I see that I was right. Cambridge is, alas, much changed, although I'm still very glad to be back in this area. The wonderful Harvard Square we knew has been largely wiped out by high rents, and I suspect the pandemic will complete the job--i doubt Bartley's Burger Cottage will survive. As I may have mentioned in the book, I still use Widener as an alum--and it's a ghost town, there's hardly anyone in the stacks ever. It has been totally closed, no way to get a book, for the last few months. I feel sure that the faculty never would have stood for that 50 years ago.

Unknown said...

I just heard your podcast with Glen Loury, and I got a huge kick out of your homage to Landmark Books. I am an avid reader of history, born in 1953, and I owned every Landmark Book in print. They clearly were the foundation for my love and interest in history. Alas, my parents did not retain them when I left home.

When I had my children, I went out looking for similar history for young readers. They did not exist. So, I went to used bookstores and bought as many Landmark Books as I could find for my children. I was and remain alarmed that no publisher is producing quality history for young readers. I remain concerned about what that portends when far fewer young readers have access to high quality books for their age group.

Fraser McAlpine

David Kaiser said...

Thank you, Fraser McAlpine. I too tried to get my sons interested in them, without much success. It is very sad that there is little comparable out there today.

Bozon said...


I took time out to dive briefly back into your book.

Sad to see the Ferguson fiasco. I had read most of House of Rothschild, and quite frankly, it had been disappointing throughout, in terms of real insights per 100 pages. Why did I bother?

I will thumb through your excellent text again soon, too much lying around here now.

All the best