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48 EpisodesProduced by The Washington PostWebsite

The Washington Post's Presidential podcast explores how each former American president reached office, made decisions, handled crises and redefined the role of commander-in-chief. It was released leading up to up to Election Day 2016, starting with George Washington in week one and ending on week 4… read more

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When a VP pick changes history

August 7th, 2020

Geraldine Ferraro broke a major barrier in American politics in 1984, when she became the first woman nominated for the vice presidency by a major …

Binding up the nation's wounds

June 19th, 2020

The famous black contralto singer Marian Anderson performed at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, after being denied the ability to perform down the …

BONUS: 'Unprecedented Presidents' live from WBUR CitySpace

March 6th, 2020


Four years after making Presidential, host Lillian Cunningham led a panel examining what's really unprecedented--or not--about Donald Trump's …

Donald Trump: Division and union

November 9th, 2016


In this final episode of the podcast, Library of Congress historians Michelle Krowl and Julie Miller return--along with Washington Post journalist …

Barack Obama: The pursuit of identity

October 30th, 2016


Political strategist David Axelrod and biographer David Maraniss discuss Barack Obama's search for identity -- and how that quest has paralleled …

George W. Bush: Changing course

October 23rd, 2016


Peter Baker, author of "Days of Fire" and a journalist with the New York Times, joins historian Mark Updegrove to examine how George W. Bush's presidency marked the beginning of a new era in American history.

Bill Clinton: The good and the bad

October 16th, 2016


David Maraniss, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Bill Clinton, explores how Clinton's core character traits had both a bright and a …

George H. W. Bush: Restraint

October 9th, 2016


Historians Jon Meacham and Jeffrey Engel discuss President Bush's unique form of presidential leadership--a vintage combination of public service, conservatism and emotional restraint--and examine why his legacy has …

Ronald Reagan: Myths and truths

October 2nd, 2016


Lou Cannon, biographer and senior White House correspondent for The Washington Post during President Reagan's administration, helps us separate the fact from fiction about who Ronald Reagan really was.

Jimmy Carter: Keeping the faith

September 25th, 2016


Longtime Carter political adviser Pat Caddell, theologian and biographer Randall Balmer, and Washington Post reporter Robert Costa examine how Jimmy …

Gerald Ford: It's personal

September 18th, 2016


The president's son Steven Ford joins White House photographer David Hume Kennerly and Berkeley professor Daniel Sargent to talk about how Gerald Ford's experience working across the aisle in Congress affected his …

Richard Nixon: Looking inward

September 11th, 2016


Bob Woodward, one of the Washington Post investigative reporters who helped uncover the Watergate scandal, examines what was at the heart of Richard Nixon's presidential downfall. The Washington Post's current executive …

Lyndon B. Johnson: Power

September 4th, 2016


The LBJ Presidential Library's director, Mark Updegrove, helps us examine how Johnson worked his will--at times darkly--to get some of the most transformative legislation of the 20th century through Congress.

John F. Kennedy: We are all mortal

August 28th, 2016


Robert Dallek, Michael Beschloss and Fredrik Logevall--three major Kennedy historians and biographers--join us on this week's episode to talk about JFK and death. But not his assassination...

Dwight D. Eisenhower: Covert action

August 21st, 2016


Stephen Kinzer, author of "The Brothers," and historian Will Hitchcock explore President Eisenhower's predilection for covert action--both in foreign affairs and in his own leadership style.

Harry S. Truman: Trying to make the right call

August 15th, 2016


Biographer David McCullough looks at some of the most difficult decisions President Truman made during his time in the White House, and Washington …

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Through Eleanor's eyes

August 7th, 2016


Allida Black, editor of the Eleanor Roosevelt papers, along with FDR Library Director Paul Sparrow and White House speechwriter Sarada Peri, examine …

Herbert Hoover: Dealing with disaster

July 31st, 2016


Herbert Hoover entered the White House with an array of high-profile experiences leading disaster relief. So why was his handling of the Great Depression considered a failure? Biographer Charles Rappleye guest stars.

Calvin Coolidge: A tale of two Coolidges

July 25th, 2016


Former politician Michael Dukakis, biographer Amity Shlaes and political scientist Robert Gilbert join Washington Post economics reporter Steven …

Warren G. Harding: Love and scandal

July 18th, 2016


Steamy love letters. Jazz. Scandal. Psychics. Newspapers. The Hope Diamond. Historian Nicole Hemmer helps guide us through the wild life and …

Woodrow Wilson: A complicated legacy

July 11th, 2016


Racism, diplomacy, women's suffrage...historian John Milton Cooper and Woodrow Wilson House executive director Robert Enholm lead us through Wilson's …

William Howard Taft: This chief, not that chief

July 3rd, 2016


Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of 'The Bully Pulpit,' along with historian Michelle Krowl and Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes discuss why …

Theodore Roosevelt: Exuberance

June 26th, 2016


Biographer David McCullough and historian Michelle Krowl take us inside the wild, unstoppable dynamism of Teddy Roosevelt, whose energy and activism …

William McKinley: The modern campaign

June 20th, 2016


Republican political strategist Karl Rove dissects what was so transformative about William McKinley's 1896 presidential campaign. And Washington …

Benjamin Harrison: The president as conservationist

June 12th, 2016


Benjamin Harrison was the first U.S. president to use his position to try to save a species, the fur seal. He also set aside more than 13 million acres of forest reserves. This episode looks at the roots of conservation …

Grover Cleveland: Tell the truth

June 5th, 2016


Known for his forthrightness, Cleveland came clean when news broke that he had fathered an illegitimate child; yet he later covered up a cancer surgery at sea. Guests Matthew Algeo, Michelle Krowl and Roman Mars explore …

Chester A. Arthur: Redemption

May 29th, 2016


How does one of the greatest beneficiaries of the spoils system end up being the president who passes civil service reform? Post reporter David …

James A. Garfield: Shot down

May 23rd, 2016


Only 100 days into office, President Garfield was shot down in a train station by a disturbed office seeker. 'Destiny of the Republic' author Candice Millard, along with Michelle Krowl of the Library of Congress, …

Rutherford B. Hayes: The most contested election

May 15th, 2016


How does a vicious, close and disputed election spill over into a presidency? We examine the razor-thin election results for Rutherford B. Hayes, and …

Ulysses S. Grant: Lover, fighter, writer

May 8th, 2016


Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs are considered the best ever written by a president. In this episode, Washington Post nonfiction book critic Carlos Lozada and biographer David Maraniss discuss what they found funny, touching …

Andrew Johnson: Stitching up a torn country

May 2nd, 2016


What kind of president can repair America's deepest divisions? Michelle Krowl of the Library of Congress walks us through Andrew Johnson's time in office right after the Civil War and sheds light on why he struggled to …

Abraham Lincoln: His hand and his pen

April 24th, 2016


Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of 'Team of Rivals,' and Michelle Krowl of the Library of Congress guide us through Lincoln's love for language--and how …

James Buchanan: The bachelor and the bloodshed

April 18th, 2016


America is on the eve of civil war, and James Buchanan is alone in the White House as our first and only bachelor president. Historians Jean Baker and Jim Loewen, and The Washington Post's Jim Tankersley, explore the …

Franklin Pierce: Rolling off the tracks

April 10th, 2016


Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer James McPherson and historian Edna Greene Medford discuss Franklin Pierce's role in the country's progression …

Millard Fillmore: Teaching the obscure presidents

April 3rd, 2016


Should we teach the presidency of Millard Fillmore? What do we lose if we don't? Historians Jean Baker and James McPherson, along with Washington …

Zachary Taylor: War heroes and conspiracy theory

March 27th, 2016


Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank joins historians Catherine Clinton and Joseph Uscinski to talk about military hero Zachary Taylor and the …

James K. Polk: Getting it done

March 20th, 2016


They Might Be Giants singer John Linnell and historian Amy Greenberg are guests on this episode. Through hard work and strategic lying, the 11th president managed to accomplish everything on his agenda. But is being …

John Tyler: Ghosts and the vice presidency

March 13th, 2016


When Vice President Tyler took over the White House, he set a precedent that would forever shape the office. This episode features experts Barbara …

William Henry Harrison: Great song, horrible death

March 6th, 2016


Washington Post humor columnist Alexandra Petri, along with Barbara Bair and Dr. Philip Mackowiak, deconstruct Harrison's transformative presidential …

Martin Van Buren: The story of our two-party system

February 29th, 2016


Martin Van Buren did much to create the political party establishments we have today. Experts Barbara Bair and Mark Cheathem, along with Washington …

Andrew Jackson: The violence, the fight

February 21st, 2016


Barbara Bair, Steve Inskeep and Jon Meacham examine the tragedy of Andrew Jackson's personal life, the brutality of his battles and his policies …

John Quincy Adams: The trait that broke a presidency

February 14th, 2016


We're about to witness how the inability to compromise can tank any hope of being an effective president.

James Monroe: The Forrest Gump of presidents

February 7th, 2016


In the latest episode of Presidential, we look at our fifth president's knack for being present at famous moments in history.

James Madison: Burning down the house

January 31st, 2016


Though he's our first wartime president, James Madison is usually better remembered for his work on the Constitution rather than his time as commander-in-chief while the White House went up in flames. But maybe that's …

Thomas Jefferson: On food and freedom

January 25th, 2016


Jon Meacham and Annette Gordon-Reed are among the experts who take us through the best and worst of our third president's complex and controversial legacy.

John Adams: The case of the missing monument

January 18th, 2016


In the second episode of Presidential, biographer David McCullough as well as noted art and architecture experts explore why there's no monument to …

George Washington: The man, the myth, the legend

January 10th, 2016


Who exactly was our first president? Bob Woodward, Joel Achenbach and Julie Miller kick off our first episode of Presidential.

Introduction: Welcome to Presidential

January 5th, 2016


Preview the Washington Post podcast, with clips from upcoming episodes and an overview of the series by host Lillian Cunningham.

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