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The Presidents' Book Club: Books that Shaped Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and others

Joseph Luzzi – Bard College

All of us at One Day U who love books wondered about the reading habits of past presidents, and what we found led us to offer this new brand new course.

Award-winning Literature Professor Joseph Luzzi will guide audiences through a fascinating "Presidents' Library," as we explore the books that shaped six of the most powerful men ever to sit in the Oval Office. We will discuss why George Washington was obsessed with a play about a Roman freedom fighter who opposed Julius Caesar; how Thomas Jefferson came to have the largest personal library in the country; what drew Abraham Lincoln to Shakespeare so obsessively (and which Shakespeare play he loved most!); which British poet Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorized as a child and read throughout his life; why John F. Kennedy was devoted to a spy novelist whose books would create one of the greatest film franchises in history; and how Barack Obama came to understand his American identity and spirit through two favorite authors.

Together, we will see how presidential action and presidential reading are intimately linked, as we explore the momentous events in these presidents' lives in light of the books that inspired their thoughts and guided their actions. Professor Luzzi will also summarize his "ALL" (American Library List) detailing the sometimes surprising books and literature which influenced many other U. S. leaders.