The lazy, hazy days of summer are a time for reading. When many people head for the popular fiction of the day or re-reading classics. I tend to drift to history and non-fiction. Here are a few books I recommend for summer history reading.

WEEKLY READ: “Mr. President” by Harlow Unger

MRPI love books about early American history, and books about George Washington are the perfect fit for this genre. However, few are as enlightening as Mr. President: George Washington and the Making of the Nation’s Highest Office by Harlow Unger. Mr. Unger shows us how Washington was not only the first president, but he defined the role, in his own image.

About Mr. President: George Washington and the Making of the Nation’s Highest Office by Harlow Unger: “Although the framers gave the president little authority, George Washington knew whatever he did would set precedents for generations of future leaders. To ensure their ability to defend the nation, he simply ignored the Constitution when he thought it necessary. In a revealing new look at the birth of American government, Mr. President describes Washington’s presidency in a time of continual crisis, as rebellion and attacks by foreign enemies threatened to destroy this new nation. Constantly weighing preservation of the Union against preservation of individual liberties and states’ rights, Washington assumed more power with each crisis. In a series of brilliant but unconstitutional maneuvers he forced Congress to cede control of the four pillars of executive power: war, finance, foreign affairs, and law enforcement.”

Mr. President: George Washington and the Making of the Nation’s Highest Office by Harlow Unger is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

WEEKLY READ: “The Battle of Bretton Woods” by Benn Steil

tbbwSeventy years ago this month, just a few weeks after the D-Day invasion when the world’s future still hung in the balance, finance leaders from around the globe came together in New Hampshire to shape the monetary policies for a new world. In The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil, we get a primer on what was accomplished at this meeting and how it has influence the world ever since. I promise, it is much more compelling than it sounds.

About The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil: “When turmoil strikes world monetary and financial markets, leaders invariably call for ‘a new Bretton Woods’ to prevent catastrophic economic disorder and defuse political conflict. The name of the remote New Hampshire town where representatives of forty-four nations gathered in July 1944, in the midst of the century’s second great war, has become shorthand for enlightened globalization. The actual story surrounding the historic Bretton Woods accords, however, is full of startling drama, intrigue, and rivalry, which are vividly brought to life in Benn Steil’s epic account. Upending the conventional wisdom that Bretton Woods was the product of an amiable Anglo-American collaboration, Steil shows that it was in reality part of a much more ambitious geopolitical agenda hatched within President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Treasury and aimed at eliminating Britain as an economic and political rival. At the heart of the drama were the antipodal characters of John Maynard Keynes, the renowned and revolutionary British economist, and Harry Dexter White, the dogged, self-made American technocrat. Bringing to bear new and striking archival evidence, Steil offers the most compelling portrait yet of the complex and controversial figure of White–the architect of the dollar’s privileged place in the Bretton Woods monetary system, who also, very privately, admired Soviet economic planning and engaged in clandestine communications with Soviet intelligence officials and agents over many years. A remarkably deft work of storytelling that reveals how the blueprint for the postwar economic order was actually drawn, The Battle of Bretton Woods is destined to become a classic of economic and political history.”

The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.