Get To Know the American Presidents

President George W. Bush, center, poses with President-elect Barack Obama, and former presidents, from left, George H.W. Bush, left, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, right, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President’s Club (Credit AP photo from VOA website)

President’s Day is a Federal holiday honoring our presidents.  Special attention often is paid to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Let’s use this perennial day to talk about a few modern day caretakers of the Oval Office. So, turn down the volume on those shouting President’s Day TV commercials and get to know the 20th century U.S. presidents in a new way. Here are two publications available through GPO to start.

Getting to Know the President, Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004

041-015-00279-1The Central Intelligence Agency’s Center for the Study of Intelligence surveys the mechanics of intelligence sharing during presidential transitions. Since the mid-century, it’s been common White House practice for the Director of Central Intelligence to offer the incumbent President an intelligence briefing every morning. From that coffee klatch, the President issues orders. This daily ritual originated with Harry Truman, whose inexperience with intelligence matters moved him to mandate intelligence briefings for all presidential candidates going forward.

The content of the hush-hush President’s Daily Brief is, quite literally, the stuff of spy novels. But what this book really focuses on is the relationship between the intelligence service and each president-elect. How each commander-in-chief-in-waiting bones up on international developments influences where that knowledge is eventually positioned in national security decision making. Getting to Know the President is a dossier on the intelligence intelligentsia like no other.

Strategic Retrenchment and Renewal in the American Experience

008-000-01115-0In this U.S Army War College Strategic Studies Institute publication, five essayists confront a debate at the heart of America’s political polarization: international renewal vs. retrenchment. In other words, what is the best foreign policy approach during tough economic times? Expand long-standing diplomacy or minimize presence abroad to focus on homeland matters? In every presidency, dueling pressures of domestic unrest and international statecraft create a trade-off dilemma.

The authors capably analyze this debate over the course of the Hoover, Nixon, and Reagan presidencies. There’s a lot of context to take note of: historical, political, economic, philosophical. Each president made strategic policy choices in light of unique controversies and commitments. And each concocted their own brew of renewal and retrenchment.  To this day, a President has yet to successfully balance out this cycle somewhere in the middle.

Hungry for more presidential knowledge? Check out these resources available on and the GPO Bookstore:

Moments in History: A Tribute to President Ford

Public Papers of the Presidents


You can click on the links above in the blog or through any of these methods:

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Chelsea Milko, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.

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