Michael Beschloss

Award-Winning Presidential Historian & Best-Selling Author

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Michael Beschloss Speaker Biography

Award-Winning Presidential Historian & Best-Selling Author

Michael Beschloss is an award-winning historian of the American Presidency and the author of eight books, including his most recent work, bestseller Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989.

Presidential Historian

Called “the nation’s leading Presidential historian,” by Newsweek, Beschloss has made history himself, serving as the first Presidential Historian for NBC News—the first time any major network has created such a position. Appearing regularly on Meet the Press, The Today Show, and all NBC network programs, he provides expert analysis of the executive branch and is often featured on PBS’s The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. In 2005, he won an Emmy for his role in creating and hosting the Discovery Channel series Decisions that Shook the World.

Roosevelt and Truman

His New York Times best-seller The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1941-1945 was lauded as “vigorously written” about “history as it was spoken at the time, and there is not a dull page,” in a front-page review in The New York Times Book Review. Amazon.com also praised it as one of its best-selling history books of the year.


Beschloss debut of a highly praised trilogy of best-selling books on the first year of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency and the newly-released secret tapes, Taking Charge was called “sheer marvelous history” by The Wall Street Journal and “an important event” by The New York Times. The second volume, Reaching for Glory, was called “an incomparable portrait of a President at work” by The New York Times Book Review.

Kennedy and Roosevelt

Beschloss’s first book, Kennedy and Roosevelt: The Uneasy Alliance, started as his senior honors thesis at Williams College. His book, Mayday: Eisenhower, Khrushchev and the U-2 Affair, was called “a grand narrative…crowded with well-drawn portraits” by The New Yorker. The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963, which won the Ambassador Book Prize was heralded by The New Yorker as the “definitive” book on John F. Kennedy and the Cold War.

Cold War

Beschloss co-wrote At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War with Strobe Talbott. As literary executor for the late Newsweek columnist Meg Greenfield, he edited her posthumously-published book Washington, which was a New York Times best-seller. He is now working on a history of Abraham Lincoln’s last days and his assassination.

Education and Affiliations

An alumnus of Eaglebrook School, Andover, Williams College and Harvard University, Presidential Historian Speaker Michael Beschloss has been an historian on the staff of the Smithsonian Institution, a Senior Associate Member at Oxford University in England, and a Senior Fellow of the Annenberg Foundation in Washington, DC.

Education and Affiliations

Michael Beschloss Speaking Topics

Presidential Courage

What makes a great U.S. president? Michael Beschloss believes the answer is "presidential courage": the willingness to take a political risk that might end a president's career-and the wisdom to do that for reasons that later Americans will admire. In a presentation based on his book Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989, Beschloss describes crucial times when courageous presidents took such risks and overcame obstacles to dramatically change the future of the United States. From George Washington to Ronald Reagan, the presidents Beschloss focuses on addressed some of the most paramount, abiding issues in American history-war and peace, human rights, and the proper balance between government and business. A natural storyteller, Beschloss details the outstanding traits of these presidents, and then compares them to the current crop of presidential candidates, for in insightful glance into America's political future. He also uses what he has discovered about presidential courage to provide leadership lessons for all of us.

The Washington DC You're Not Hearing About

From his talks with presidents, Supreme Court justices, diplomats, and members of Congress, and his quarter century in the nation's capital, Beschloss reveals the hidden side of important personalities and behind-the-scenes developments that may soon have a major impact on your life.

Leadership from the Board Room to the Oval Office

Drawing on his years studying leadership at the Harvard Business School and as a presidential historian, Beschloss picks the most brilliant successes and the most lethal mistakes made in business and politics - and shows us what they can teach us.

Great Presidents Past and Present

As a master in his field, Beschloss brings us inspiring, humorous, and tragic never-before-told stories of American presidents - from George Washington to George W. Bush - as they struggle with war, peace, and domestic crisis. He reveals the qualities that have made great presidents in history and shows how to find leaders who have them now - in politics, business, and civic life.

How to Enjoy & Learn from Historic Sites

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy

Michael Beschloss Books

Presidents of the United States of America
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Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989
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The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1941-1945
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Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964
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Michael Beschloss Videos

Michael Beschloss Speaker Testimonials

In the spirit of the season, a home run! Michael Beschloss was charming, funny and informative, and he kept the crowd rapt. Hit all the right notes. Thanks to you and all at WSB for your professionalism and responsiveness throughout.

- | Furman University

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Recent Books

Presidents of the United States of America
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Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989
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