Reading List (Update):  on Character

By | February 12, 2020

[February 12, 2020]  I know what you’re thinking already if you skipped this intro and went straight to read this Reading List choice.  How in the world could he write a review on “The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge”?  Does he think we’re boring or ahistorical or just plain brain dead?  “Silent Cal”?  Come on!  My good readers, please bear with me as I lay out a case for this book.  First, unlike other autobiographies of today’s politicians, Coolidge writes about those significant influences of his life and does so in a book short in length but long on quality explanations.  Second, Coolidge displayed many of the essential qualities I push in my daily blog; things like being a hard worker, dedicated to the task at hand, humble, honorable, and a man of integrity.  And third, he gives an interesting perspective to today’s issues and in a surprisingly charming way.

The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, Calvin Coolidge, 1929

Calvin Coolidge was a lawyer, governor, and the 30th President of the United States.  He succeeded to the presidency upon the sudden death of Warren G. Harding in 1923 but elected in his own right in 1924.  Coolidge gained a reputation as a small-government conservative and also as a man who had a quiet demeanor and had a dry sense of humor.  He was, indeed, an admirable man.  It should come as no surprise that Coolidge wrote that no one should degrade another person and that good law is made by treating members of the other party with respect and dignity.  This book is a primer on how a president should act.  As such, it can be argued as a literary classic.

This autobiography is a relatively quick and easy read; its chapters covering his rise to governor and, ultimately, as President.  These are the most engaging chapters.  Several well-known critics point to a paragraph that truly sets forth, Coolidge’s philosophy of his presidency.  “In ethics, He taught us that there is a standard of righteousness, that might does not make right, that the end does not justify the means and that expediency as a working principle is bound to fail. The only hope of perfecting human relationship is in accordance with the law of service under which men are not so solicitous about what they shall get as they are about what they shall give. Yet people are entitled to the rewards of their industry. What they earn is theirs, no matter how small or how great.”  Coolidge is one of the most underrated presidents in U.S. history.  He strove to get along with everyone and be cordial even in disagreement.  His autobiography was popular reading at the time of its publication.

A classic. This book is highly recommended.

To go to the full Professional Reading list, click on this direct link:

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “Reading List (Update):  on Character

  1. Jerome Smith

    Gen. Satterfield’s series on book reviews is valuable to those of us who don’t have the time to pick out important books and articles that help force us to think better. I hope this autobio does that like he has noted. I’ve ordered it thru my library. The librarian said it is not a popular book (never been checked out before) but that it used to be popular back in the 1940s and 50s.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Yes, I’ve read several autobiographies (all I think) from US presidents. Most of the recent ones are simply filling their egos (like Obama’s book that he had ghost written).

  2. Mr. T.J. Asper

    I’ll be introducing Coolidge to my HS classes next month after reading this. There are many forthright lessons that can be gained from his book (I read reviews).

    1. Dennis Mathes

      We all appreciate you not being one of those PC teachers that believe stupid things like global warming will kill us all in 5 years unless we stop eating beef.

  3. Bryan Lee

    Thanks Gen. Satterfield for keeping us up on what you’ve been reading and thinking about. Yes, I too agree that Calvin Coolidge’s presidency was underrated and overlooked today. That may change and his book is a good start. I checked out a copy from my local library and will read it over the next few days.

  4. Jane Fillmore

    Out West here in Oregon, I found a small group of folks who study US presidents in order to keep their memories alive. They may be a little kooky but they are series about the accuracy and details of president’s lives and administration efforts. I joined them (mostly older women like me) to do the same. I will bring up Coolidge to them at our next meeting.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Hi Jane, “older women” – sounds like a great place to be. I’m over 50 now.

      1. Deplorable John

        Hang in there Dale. I understand you have a dog, a smoking chair, martinis on the rocks, and a lovely fireplace. Why leave that? Oh, women, yes, ‘can’t live with them or …’ 😊

  5. Max Foster

    I’ve always thought that it is a good idea to understand the thinking of anyone who has been very successful in any human endeavor. Nothing to be lost by doing so. Calvin Coolidge was truly a great president but underrated mostly because he was pres during a relatively peaceful time in our history. Great work on his autobio. Well done!

    1. Eva Easterbrook

      I agree and it is much easier, in many way, to learn hard-won lessons from others rather than doing it all yourself. Despite being easier to remember if you screw up and learn than learning from others but still too many lessons otherwise.

  6. Army Captain

    Cool Coolidge. Thanks Gen. Satterfield for introducing his autobiography and giving it a high recommendation.

    1. Ronny Fisher

      Yes, glad I came to this website today for updates on what is old but also new in Coolidge’s thinking.

      1. ZB22

        Ronny, this is why I already ordered my copy of his autobiography. I managed to find a first edition on top of it all and will surely enjoy it. Not too long of a read and pretty easy from what Gen. Satterfield is telling us.


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