Presidential biographies are some of the more popular forms of historical literature. They provide valuable insight into our founders, giving us some sense of who our leaders were and giving historical context to understand the presidency today. But there are some limits to these works. One author is reexamining how we talk and write about presidential history in our modern time.
Alexis Coe joins Julian Zelizer in this week’s episode to discuss her new book, “You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington.” Coe reimagines how we think about the first president, taking another look at the precedents he set and their implications on leadership today.
Coe is a writer, historian, and the award-winning author of “Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis.” She is also a consulting producer on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s three-part series on George Washington and the host of “No Man’s Land.” She appears frequently on CNN and the History Channel and has contributed to a number of publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New Republic, and The Paris Review.
ABOUT THE HOSTS
Wang is a professor at Princeton University, appointed in neuroscience with affiliate appointments in the Program in Law and Public Affairs and the Center for Information Technology Policy. An alumnus of Caltech, where he received a B.S. with honors in physics, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Stanford University School of Medicine. He conducted postdoctoral research at Duke University Medical Center and at Bell Labs Lucent Technologies. He has also worked on science and education policy for the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. He is noted for his application of data analytics and poll aggregation to American politics. He is leading an effort at the Princeton Gerrymandering Project to build a 50-state data resource for legislative-quality citizen redistricting. His work to define a state-level legal theory to limit partisan gerrymandering recently won Common Cause’s Gerrymandering Standard Writing Contest. His neuroscience research concerns how the brain learns from sensory experience in early life, adulthood and autism.
Zelizer has been among the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University and a CNN political analyst. He has written more than 900 op-eds, including his popular weekly column for CNN.com and The Atlantic. This year, he is the distinguished senior fellow at the New York Historical Society, where he is writing a biography of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel for Yale University's Jewish Lives Series. He is the author and editor of more than 19 books including, “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society,” the winner of the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the Best Book on Congress. In January 2019, Norton published his new book, co-authored with Kevin Kruse, “Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974.” In spring 2020, Penguin Press will publish his other book, “Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, The Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party.” He has received fellowships from the Brookings Institution, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation and New America.